How Noach Got His Name

30 Oct

noah's ark old art

I have a dvar torah. Sorry, I do that every once in a while here. But don’t worry, it’s short, and I think you might like it. Okay.

The way Noach got his name according to Bereishis was that his father Lemech said “Ze YiNACHameinu…” Borrowed Mechon-mamre translation: “And he called his name Noah, saying: ‘This one shall comfort us from our work and from the toil of our hands, from the ground which the LORD hath cursed.'”

Pirkei d’rabbi eliezer and Abarbanel (and Artscroll, or I’d probably never know this) explain that there was a tradition at the time that the curse given to the ground because of Adam’s sin would end when Adam died.

About 10 verses later (6:6-7), after the Torah says that the world became eviler and eviler, it says:

6 And it repented (“VayeNACHem”)the LORD that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him to His heart.

7 And the LORD said: ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and creeping thing, and fowl of the air; for it repenteth (NECHamti) Me that I have made them.’

Nachem“, “comforted”, is a weird word to use for “regretted”. The commentaries have to explain what it’s used to mean here.

I think that this isn’t a coincidence. The people put too much stock in tradition, instead of learning from history. They said, ‘God cursed us, we’re stuck with whatever He wants, and there’s no way out until Adam’s gone and God stops being angry. Nothing to do but wait till it’s over and everything will be all better.’

That’s why God uses the same word- ironically. “Fools!” -that’s what God usually says at this point in divrei torah- “You’re in charge of the world! Adam sinned and got punished. Keep sinning, and you’ll continue to be punished. You want to change things? Stop having your powerful people oppress the weak, and rape the women (6:1-5). Fix yourselves and be good to each other, and I won’t punish you. Jesus H. Buddha Mohammed, is that so hard?”

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3 Responses to “How Noach Got His Name”

  1. johnthesavage01 October 30, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

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