The tower of "Babble"

Most of Parashat Noach is about Noah, the Flood, the Ark the Rainbow. But there is also a bried gem  of a story,"The Tower of Babble."

Keep in mind that some at least of these early stories are rooted in the culture and life-experience of the Abrahamic clan. Who were Avram/ Sarai who became Abraham and Sarah?  Frontier-folk on the edges of the Babylonian Empire who chose to leave even the semi-settled frontier lands and go off to where "civilized" folk would think, "Here Be Dragons."

The Flood, the Ark, and the Rainbow: Celebrating Rainbow Day & Shabbat Noach

[From Godwrestling -- Round 2 by Rabbi Arthur Waskow (Jewish Lights, 1996), chapter 17]

The story of the Flood recounts that violence, corruption, ruin were rampant on the earth.  God, seeing that the human imagination was drawn toward evil, determined to destroy all life,  except for one human family led by Noah, and one pair of every species.  God rained death on every being except those who took refuge with Noah on the Ark. 

Rainbow Sign: From the Story of the Flood, Learning to Heal Our Planet

[This is a passage from Rabbi Waskow's book GODWRESTLING -- ROUND 2 (Jewish Lights, 2001), though much of the work described took place in the early 1980s while facing the danger of world nuclear holocaust. The midrashic thinking set forth applies as well to the danger of "global scorching" in the climate crisis. See the end of this essay for a way of receiving the book.]
Rainbow Sign

Haftarah Noah: Rainbow Covenant

Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Haftarah for the Rainbow Covenant

[Blessed are You, the Breath of Life, Who makes of every human throat a shofar for the breathing of Your truth.]

You, My people, burnt in fire,
still staring blinded
by the flame and smoke
that rose from Auschwitz and from Hiroshima;

You, My people,
Battered by the earthquakes
of a planet in convulsion;

You, My people,
Drowning in the flood of words and images
That beckon you to eat and eat,
to drink and drink,
to fill and overfill
your bellies
at the tables of
the gods of wealth and power;

Shabbat Noach: Rainbow, Oil Slicks, & Sabbatical Year: A tale of two covenants -- broken

By Rabbi David Seidenberg See his Website at

Monday, May 10, 2010, is also the 27th of Iyyar—the date when Noah’s family and the animals left the ark and received the rainbow covenant.

There is a special correlation between this week’s Torah portion and the rainbow covenant of Noah’s time. And there is a foreboding contrast between the rainbow covenant and what’s happened in the Gulf of Mexico. The tension between these dynamic relationships in many ways defines the predicament of our time.

From Rainbow Sign to Climate Policy

Rabbi Arthur Waskow discusses the story of Noah, the promise of the rainbow, and the need for individual and collective action to address Global Scorching. See also the video of Rabbi Waskow's address on "Facing the Pharaohs of Global Scorching" at the Interfaith Summit on the Climate Crisis in Sweden.

Praying for the Earth with our Voices and our Legs: Philadelphia

Congregation Mishkan Shalom in Philadelphia will focus its Shabbat Noach services (10 a.m. October 24) on protection of the earth and especially healing our global climate, and then many members of the congregation will take part in the rally as part of the International Day of Climate Action. We will meet at Independence Mall at 1pm to make the 350 message heard. We will hear from Katherine Gayewski, Director of the Philadelphia Mayor's Office of Sustainability, and our keynote speaker Ray Anderson, radical industrialist and environmental heavyweight.


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