The New Shul

Parshat Noah/Shabbat Rosh Hodesh

This week’s parashah, Noah, tells two different stories about human failure: the story of the Flood and the story of the Tower of Babel. In both sories, human beings betray the image of God within themselves, but in opposite ways. The first story, that of the Flood, is about people who are guilty of hamas, lawlessness. They behave like animals, violating all civilized norms. They act as if they were less than human.

The second story, that of the Tower of Babel, is about people who try to be more than human, to conquer heaven. They are not satisfied to be images of God, but wish to be God. The parashah teaches us that, in both ways — by being less than human and by trying to be more than human — humanity brings catastrophe on itself.

The parashah ends by introducing Avraham, whose story will fill the next two parshiyot. Avraham is the answer to both the generation of the Flood and the generation of the Tower. He blends dignity and humility — the recognition that he is no less than human and that he is no more than human — in a way that makes him a model for all time. All of the rest of the Torah can be read as an attempt to teach us how to do the same: to be no less, and no more, than images of God.

Shabbat has a unique way of training us in that dual awareness, of helping us to find that middle ground where dignity and humility come together. May this Shabbat, and every Shabbat, remind us what it means to be truly human.

  • Shabbat services at The New Shul are on Friday evenings from 6 to 7 pm, and on Saturday mornings from 9 am to 12 noon. The kiddush this Shabbat is sponsored by Martin and Joanne Schwab.
  • Childcare is available from 10 am to noon on Shabbat mornings. Children’s services this Shabbat are: Munchkin Minyan for ages 2 to 4 from 11 to 11:30 am, and Beyond Bim Bom for grades K to 3, 10:30 to 11:15 am.
  • Minyanim during the week are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am, and on Wednesday mornings at 7 am.