Bible

Trust That Inner Voice Even When You Think “This is a Crazy Idea!”

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In my Podcast last week I talked about Faith. And I want to continue that conversation. In Last week’s Torah portion God instructs Noah to build an enormous Ark. On faith and faith alone Noah does as God has instructed and he builds an enormous Ark, out of Gopher wood, keep in mind that no one knows what kind of wood that is.

Noah built this Ark even though he probably thought “This is a Crazy Idea!”This week we have another story about going out on faith. This week we have another story about going out on faith. This week we read Torah portion Lech Lecha which means to Go forth or let’s Go.

This is the story where God instructs Avram to leave the comfort of his home, everything he trusts, everything he knows and God says “Lech Lecha, Go forth from your native land and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you and I will make you a great Nation.” Think about it Avram with his wife Sarah in tow, leave everything and strike out into the unknown. Since Avram is willing to strike out into the unknown and embrace it fully he will become a source of blessing for all. Like Noah Avram probably thought “This is a Crazy Idea!” I sure he was scared, I’m sure Sarah was scared, and all of this reminds us that out of our own fears insecurities and uncertainty for the future, faith can guide us. I know many of us are uncomfortable with the word faith, so I will just say to trust that inner voice, trust that inner voice even when we think “This is a Crazy Idea!”

Later in the text God tells I Avram I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will make you exceedingly numerous.” God changes Avram’s name to Avraham and says I will make you the father of a multitude of nations. Now at this time Avraham is 99 years old he as no children with his wife Sarah. He does have one child from his slave Hagar and God is telling him that he will have lots of offspring. Then God tells this 99 year old man that he will circumcise his foreskin as a sign of the covenant between Avraham and God. Avraham probably thought This is Nuts! “This is a Crazy Idea!” But Avraham put his trust in God he had faith and because of his faith he became the father of a great nation.

I think it’s hard sometimes for people to do things on faith or they find it hard to listen to that inner voice. And one of the challenges is building the confidence to trust your faith. As said last week faith is about the courage. The courage to live with the uncertainty and the courage to trust in your gut, in your heart and in God that you are on the right path.

Never Seek Your Siblings Blessing

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A Monday Morning reflection on this week's Torah Portion. This week’s Torah portion Toldot is challenging one. There are a lot of things that happened in this week’s Torah portion. First off, Isaac and Rebecca have difficulty conceiving a child. Miraculously Rebecca’s prayers are answered when she finds out she’s pregnant. Then she has a very difficult pregnancy

As she struggles with her pregnancy God tells her that “there are two nations in your womb,” and that the younger will prevail over the elder.”

The two children in her womb struggle up until Rebecca gives birth. Esau emerges first with Jacob clutching at his heel. The two boys could not grow up any differently Esau grows up to be “a hunter, a man of the outdoors,” he I think he smells bad and he’s Isaacs’ favorite. Jacob is described as the wholesome, mild man who stayed home and loved to learn and he’s Rebecca's favorite.

One day, I because Jacob stayed home and learned how to cook, he’s making some soup. Esau walks in and is like, "give me that food, I’m hungry, I’m so hungry I’m gonna die and I don’t know how to cook!" Jacob turns to him and says, "yes I’ll give you the soup but first you must sell me your birthright. Esau is like, "whatever. What good is it going to do me, I’m going to die if you don’t feed me." Esau sells his birthright (his rights as the firstborn) to Jacob for a pot of red lentil stew. The end of this story is this: Rebecca and Jacob deceive Isaac and Jacob gets the birthright.

This is a really hard text and it’s hard for me. I understand sibling rivalry and like Jacob and Esau I think my brother is my mother’s favorite and I am my dad’s favorite and that’s ok, it wasn’t ok when I was younger but it’s ok now.

I close this reflection with a quote from Jonathan Sacks “Never seek your brother’s blessing. Be content with your own.

Was Noah a Righteous Dude?

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This week we enter into the story of Noah. The story of Noah comes right after the story of creation. We learned in last weeks Torah portion that God created the world and declared it was very good. Then by the end of the portion, it seems as if God has what a friend of mine called a bit of buyers remorse. God says that people are evil and God wants to wipe out not only people but all living things on the planet. But... the Torah says "Noah found favor in the eyes of God" Then the portion ends with a bit of a cliffhanger.

This week we learn “Noah was in his generations a righteous and a wholehearted dude and Noah walked with God.” But what does it mean to be a righteous dude in Noah’s time? Noah was around during a time when the world was crap and people were just not nice and treated each other like ...well... you can insert the rest.

Noah was righteous for his generation but how would he stand up next to people from other generations?

I would argue that Noah is righteous but not a leader. Noah doesn’t even speak in this weeks Torah portion. In an age, when all is corrupt when the world is filled with violence when even God has “regretted that God made people on earth, and it pained God at God's heart.” Noah, in God’s eyes, justifies God’s faith in humanity, the faith that led God to create people. Noah is, after all, the man through whom God makes a covenant with all humanity, and as a queer person, I can thank Noah for the rainbow.

Noah is to humanity what Abraham is to the Jewish people. Noah was a good man in a bad time. Some would argue there are two types of righteous people. Some who do what they are supposed to do and nothing else and those who look around and try to do more. Noah was the type of guy who did what God told him to do, he built an ark and did not tell anyone or try and save anyone.

But I don't want to sound like I'm putting most of the fault on Noah. Our great sage Rashi explains that the men of Noah's generation would see Noah building this Ark, which by the way took 120 years. If those men saw Noah working on this Ark, at some point they might ask, "Dude what are you doing?" And Noah could answer the question and tell them that "God has instructed me to build this Ark because God is bringing a huge flood that will destroy the world" According to Rashi this might give the people of Noah's generation time to repent. But as we know they never asked.