Weekly Words of Torah goes PC (Parashah and Chesed) – Parashat Noach 5780

To inspire, guide, engage, enrich, and empower Conservative Jewish Women
By Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields, Executive Director, Women’s League For Conservative Judaism

Parashat Noah, named for the protagonist of the Torah Reading, Noah, who was a righteous person for his generation, while the rest of humanity was corrupt, called hamas, and God decided to destroy humanity. God commanded Noah to build an ark and to bring into it seven pairs, male and female, of all clean animals and one pair of all unclean animals found on earth. Noah also took along his wife, their three sons, Shem, Ham, and Yaphet, and their wives. Noah’s wife is not given a name in the Torah, but the midrash, rabbinic legend, in Bereshit Rabbah, gave her the name Na’amah. The midrash explains that she was given the name Na’amah, because her deeds were pleasing, ne’imim. Another explanation is that she helped save life on earth and, similar to Eve, she as a Mother of Life. A great flood lasting forty days and nights covered the earth, destroying all living creatures except Noah, his family, and the paired animals on the ark. Once the flood ended, Noah and his family lived on the earth and procreated. God promised to never again destroy the earth, and symbolized it with the rainbow. Another notable story in Parashat Noah is the story of the tower of Babel. When all the people who lived on earth spoke the same language, they decided to build a city and a tower, which would reach to the sky in order to make a name for themselves. When God saw that the people had one language and what they could do, God confused their language, and scattered them across the earth.

There are a number of Chesed ideas that can relate to Parashat Noah. For example, just the way Noah saved the animals, let us take time this week to help a local animal shelter, whether it is donating money, supplies, or food. Furthermore, just the way Noah’s wife, Na’amah, saved life on earth, and became known as a Mother of Life, let us all decide to do something to help the earth. For example, grow a vegetable garden, and create a plan to then donate the vegetables to a food pantry. Another Chesed idea related to Parashat Noah, is to think about all the words, abbreviations, and language that we may use in our synagogues and sisterhoods, that we assume everyone knows, and make a glossary of those words and abbreviations.

Weekly Words of Torah is a brief paragraph prepared weekly by our Executive Director, Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields, presented in our “This Week @ Women’s League.” WWOT will provide meaningful thoughts related to the Weekly Torah Portion, an event on the Calendar, a Prayer, or something of Jewish interest, to inspire, guide, engage, enrich, and empower Conservative Jewish Women. If you have any particular interest in future topics, or want to send Rabbi Wolintz-Fields an email, you can contact her at ewolintz-fields@wlcj.org. Read previous Weekly Words of Torah here, and stay up-to-date with the latest WWOT theme, Chesed, here.