Noah (Genesis 6:9-11:32)

[Noah is pronounced with a guttural h in Hebrew]

Last year, I wrote:

“This is another of those Bible portions that get whitewashed to be made suitable for children.  Think about it.  All humans, including babies and children, and all animals are condemned to death by drowning.  And what about the rotting horrors left when the waters recede?  And after the flood, humanity doesn’t seem to have progressed a whole lot.  Noah plants a vineyard, discovers wine, gets drunk, passes out, and is humiliated (rabbinic interpretations range from voyeurism to incestuous sodomy to castration) by his son Ham.”

Why did Noah plant a vineyard, make wine, and get drunk?  I don’t know about you, but if I’d had to spend about a year confined to an ark with my family and Lord knows how many animals, knowing that all other humans and animals had been drowned, I’d want a good stiff drink afterwards.  And I don’t think I’d be willing to wait for grapes to grow and be fermented.  A desire for a “pick me up” is one of the reasons cited by Rabbi Zalmy Labkowsky in Why Noah Planted a Vineyard and Got DrunkRabbi Labkowsky also presents a Chassidic teaching that Noah, by getting drunk and disrobing, was trying to recreate the innocent oblivion and oneness with the Lord experienced by Adam and Eve before sin. After sinning, the “transcendence was gone. What was left was a multitude of independent creatures lacking the guiding and uniting force they once took for granted.” I hadn’t heard this one before, but it’s in keeping with the view of the world experiencing another Creation after the Flood.  But alcohol-induced oblivion is not primevally innocent, Noah learns to his chagrin.

In the story of the Tower (Ziggurat) of Babel, humanity is indeed united into one entity. It’s apparently not an entity seeking oneness with the Lord, but equal power.  For an interesting take on this story as satire, see Satire in the Bible – The Ziggurat of Babel.]

I wrote last year:

“Eventually, the “new” humanity decides to climb up to heaven by building a huge ziggurat.  How is this thwarted?  The Lord makes them speak different languages; no longer able to understand each other, they can no longer cooperate enough to complete such a mammoth enterprise.  This will be worth delving into more next year (i.e., 2016), prior to Election Day.”

Well, we certainly have been speaking different tongues in American English throughout this wretched campaign, not only not understanding each other but not really wanting to either. 

To a far greater degree than before, I shy away from political discussions with those who do not share my point of view.  That is not good.  But I believe that the vast majority of us are so entrenched and discourse is so uncivil that such “discussions” quickly degenerate into rude, angry name calling and ad hominem attacks, mirroring the ads and debates we’ve been bombarded with.  And so I’ve decided to keep my blood pressure down instead.  OTOH, I was almost in a state of shock as I listened to a recent debate between the candidates for U. S. Representative (Delaware gets just one).  The candidates were polite and respectful to each other.  The questions were appropriate and the candidates actually answered what they were asked.   A ray of hope for future discourse? 
Shabbat shalom,


Excerpts from Non Campus Mentis – World History According to College Students, compiled by Professor Anders Henriksson (2001)

Chapter 3 – The Mists of Antiquity: The Joy of Flooding

The Nile was a river that had some water in it.  Every year it would flood and irritate the land.  This tended to make the people nervous.

Mesopotamia was squigged in a valley near the Eucaliptus river.  Flooding was erotic. The Babylonians honored their gods by building pyramids in the shape of zeplins.  The Assyrian program of exterminating various ethnic groups generally failed to promote cultural diversity.




From While Shepherds Washed Their Flocks, L. C. Higgs (1998), p. 68.

When Will was two he didn’t speak much and didn’t have to since his older brother Andy, four, was happy to translate.

One evening at the dinner table, Will rattled off a string of syllables with great animation and expression.

“Andy, what did Will say? His parents asked.

Andy immediately rattled off the same sounds.

“But what does that mean?” they asked,

“I don’t know,” Andy admitted.  “He never said that before!”

  • Reported by Sue from Wisconsin


I intend to indulge in this drink to either celebrate or drown sorrows next week.  Still need some ingredients.

October 21, 2016

Regardless of politics, I think many can agree that this week—along with this entire presidential campaign—has felt interminably long.

Donald Trump provided an unexpected dose of inspiration for women at the end of Wednesday night’s presidential debate. In the midst of Hillary Clinton’s explanation of how she planned to raise taxes on the wealthy, he was unable to restrain himself. He leaned into his microphone and mouth-breathed: “Such a nasty woman.”
We have since adopted the phrase as a compliment, a welcome reason to play Janet Jackson on repeat, and—starting today—as a cocktail.

I am in charge of Quartz’s Friday cocktail hour today. In honor of the week that was, I’ve invented a concoction called The Nasty Woman. It’s a little sweet, a little tart, and 100% nasty. It’s also dark pink.

If you want to join the fun, try this:
three parts silver tequila (made by the “bad hombres” of Mexico)

two parts cherry juice (I like this one from Trader Joe’s)

one part lime juice

pour over ice and top it with sparkling wine or sparkling limeade
This gets a wedge of lime. I’m too nasty to fuss with a twist.





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