In the process called the I-Ching, we choose, using coins or yarrow sticks a passage from the book of the same name and use it to empower and inform our questions. I believe that the I-Ching can be a useful tool as long as it does not dull itself as the simple, celestial answer book. But the I-Ching is not the only work that can be of spiritual use in that particular way. Every week we look into a portion of our Torah. We seek to find meaning for ourselves in the portion of the week. I call the process ‘Jew-Ching.’ One form of Jew-Ching is to turn the name of the portion around and around seeking something within ourselves that resonates in the name.
This week’s potion, as my grandson, Gage calls them, is called No’ah. But the full name of the potion is: Eleh Toldot No’ah. Normally we translate that as: “These are the generations (or offspring) of Noah!” It is descriptive in that it introduces the story of Noah. But there is a spark to be found by striking our souls against these words.
The root Nun Het has some interesting branches that flow from it. One meaning is ‘rest.’ “These are the generations of rest!” Oh if only that could be true. We would love to be able to rest. We want to rest on our laurels. We want to rest from all the troubles of the world. We want to rest and renew for the next epoch of time. This translation is about hope. Is this not a time for the rest of renewal as we prepare for a new direction in politics? And yet, there is something deeper yet.
No’ah also means silence. And in that case, it is a warning. “These are the Silent Generations.” In context, we look at No’ah, the silent hero of the story. For almost nine full chapters, No’ah is silent. As a matter of fact, throughout the whole story, No’ah has but one line. The Rabbis of old would compare No’ah to Avraham and find him wanting. When G tells No’ah that the world is to be destroyed, No’ah is silent. When G tells Avraham that Sdom and Amorah are going to be destroyed, Avraham calls out for justice. In this way the very fitting name of the potion is “These are the generations of silence.” And yet, Torah speaks to us, not just of our past but of today and especially in this season of change, this season of politics. Next week we have a chance to make history. We will affect the direction of this country. . . unless we are of the silent generation. If we step up and vote, we are not silent. Our voice rings the bell of freedom throughout the land. For freedom is not right and privilege. Freedom is a responsibility and challenge to our vigilance.
Next week, we get to decide, not only on who will be the next President of the United States. We get to decide on whether we are to be the silent generation. Are we to be the generation of No’ah the silent or the generation of Avraham, the generation of people who will be heard as we call for righteousness, for what is right.