2016 comments, with some 2015 included:
[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 Drunk. Rabbi 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 (2015):
“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?
And the Lord said unto Noah: “Where is the ark which I have commanded thee to build?”
And Noah said unto the Lord: “Verily, I have had three carpenters off ill. The gopher wood supplier hath let me down — yea, even though the wood hath been on order for nigh upon twelve months. What can I do, Lord?”
And the Lord said unto Noah: “I want that ark finished after seven days and seven nights.”
And Noah said: “It will be so.” And it was not so.
And the Lord said unto Noah: “What seemeth to be the trouble this time?”
And Noah said unto the Lord: “Mine subcontractors hath gone bankrupt. The pitch which thou commandest me to put on the outside of the ark hath not arrived. Shem, my son who helpeth me, hath formed a rock group with his brothers Ham and Japeth. Lord, I am undone. Bring on the rains.”
And the Lord grew very angry and said: “And what about the animals, the male and female of every sort that I ordered to come unto thee to keep their seed alive upon the face of the earth?”
And Noah said: “They hath been delivered unto the wrong address but should arrive on Friday.”
And the Lord said: “How about the unicorns and the fowls of the air by sevens?”
And Noah wrung his hands, saying: “Lord, unicorns are a discontinued line; thou canst not get them for love nor money. And fowls of the air are sold only in half-dozen lots. Lord, thou knowest how it is.”
And the Lord in his wisdom spoke: “Noah, my son, what about the insurance, in case thou should run this ark aground atop Mt. Ararat?”
And Noah was downcast, saying: “My independent insurance agent telleth me there doth exist a market crunch. Companies liketh not writing insurance for an ark. They fear it will be used for water skiing. They doubt my wisdom as captain. Only one company hath said it would insure this vessel and it would charge seventy times seven pieces of silver, with a 250-pound sacrificial lamb deductible.
“Verily, the tribute is higher than heaven and yet we cannot get delivery of the policy for nigh upon three months, for the company hath changed to an abacus and the beads are stuck fast.”
Having spoken thus, Noah wept.
And the Lord went forth and did likewise.
This woman was driving home in Northern Arizona, when she saw an elderly Navajo woman walking on the side of the road.
She stopped the car and asked the woman if she’d like a ride. The woman thanked her and got in the car.
After a few minutes, the Navajo woman noticed a brown bag on the back seat and asked the driver what was in the bag.
The driver said, “It’s a bottle of wine. I got it for my husband.”
The Navajo woman thought for a moment, then said, “Good trade.”
I drank so much wine last night that when I walked across the dance floor to get another glass, I won the dance competition.
The secret of enjoying a good bottle of wine:
- Open the bottle to allow it to breathe.
- If it doesn’t look like it’s breathing, give it mouth-to-mouth.
Every box of raisins is a tragic tale of grapes that could have been wine.
I can’t wait for the day when I can drink wine with my kids instead of because of them.
Foreign Language Quotes
I have a one-question language test that people who have lived abroad do better on than those who studied in a classroom. Try my test yourself: In a foreign language you’ve studied, how do you say ‘doorknob’? Nicholas Kristof
Parents should conduct their arguments in quiet, respectful tones, but in a foreign language. You’d be surprised what an inducement that is to the education of children. Judith Martin
I’ve had Republicans come to me and say, ‘Tell me how I should talk to young people!’ as if it’s some foreign language or something. Aaron Schock
I really like acting in French. It’s actually quite different for me, from acting in English. It’s fun acting in a foreign language. You’re liberated or freed from preconceptions. Kristin Scott Thomas