The story of Noah and the Ark is one of the better known stories in the Torah with the animals coming into the ark 'two by two'. Jewish preschools have a lot of fun with this parasha, but in truth, it's really not a children's story. The Torah relates that Gd told Noah to build an Ark, and he did. He didn't ask why or question or analyze the situation or argue with Gd as Abraham did 10 generations later. Noah became the agent for saving life after the flood of destruction that engulfed the earth. He and his family - along with the animals - were the only survivors. Rabbinic commentators suggest that it took so long for Noah to build the ark to Gd's exacting specifications in the hope that many would see and stop to ask what Noah was doing and why, in order to do 'teshuva' and save the world from destruction. One can only imagine what might have happened had he tried to engage his fellow human beings in healing in the world. Parashat Noah is a wake-up call to become more attuned to protecting our fragile earth, its climate, and all who share this space.
The text says that Noah was righteous 'in his generation'...a significant qualification, in other words, relative to others. He could have done more. His name means 'to rest'...one can argue that his name was fitting - he took the easy way out. Essentially, though, Noah realized that the storm was coming and he got to work in building the ark. Are we like Noah?
Each of us is a teva, an ark, carrying potential to create new blessing and possibility. With our collective rainbow of varied backgrounds and stories and talents and experiences, let's use the power of our words and actions to protect and nourish and sustain and heal, restoring life and goodness.