Rabbi’s Torah Thoughts

 

Torah Thoughts Noah 5778
 
This week social media was flooded with people posting the simple words, “me too.”  Me too, as in I also was a victim of sexual harassment or assault.  To see the Facebook page fill with this difficult and painful assertion was both uplifting and heartbreaking.  The goal of the campaign was to remove the shame victims typically feel after experiencing such heinous crimes.   
 
Noah, the hero of this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Noah, is a “me too” person.  Biblically speaking, he was the first person who suffered from a sexual assault.  The incident occurred just after the cessation of the flood when the Torah states: “Noah, the man of the earth, debased himself and planted a vineyard.  He drank of the wine and became drunk, and he uncovered himself within his tent.”  His son Ham saw Noah naked in the tent and, instead of helping him, called out to his brothers, Shem and Japhet, to revel in the debasement of their father.  Luckily they do not follow suit, entering the tent with closed eyes, they placed a garment over Noah’s body to protect him.  Noah here is vulnerable and later on when he finds out about what happened, feels violated, blessing Shem and Japheth and cursing Ham. 
 
I find the stories about sexual harassment and assault in the Torah, like the rape of Dina later on in the book of Genesis, to be the hardest parts of our holy text to read.  Like Shem and Japhet we want to look away from the inhumanity that it has exposed.  However, we have an obligation to do more.  This Shabbat let us give Noah and Dina the capability to say “me too,” to reassert their power and deny it to those like Ham who tried to rob it from them.  As we learned last week, we are all made “in the image of God,” and deserve to be treated respectfully and with honor.  To those in our community who have suffered such wrongs, my heart goes out to you.  You are not alone.  May the wounds of the past heal and may a rainbow of hope spread its wings and prevent abuse from occurring in our world in the future.
 
Shabbat Shalom,
 
Rabbi Alex

Last updated: October 20, 2017 at 8:03 am