THE GOOD SHABBOS COMMUNITY

ENJOYING YOUR JEWISH HERITAGE THROUGH FOOD, FACTS AND FUN - SHABBAT SHALOM

 

 CHALLAH, WINE,  CANDLES , READ A LITTLE, TALK A LITTLE AND SING

TO ACT OR NOT TO ACT BLOG HOME WHY ABOUT US WHO FOR CONTACT WHERE LINKS FOOD FOR SHABBOS SHARING WHAT WE DO EACH SHABBOS SHABBOS LIGHT WEEKLY CONTENT SONGS - THE MUSIC
 

Parashat Noah – The Flood 

 

Noah was a righteous man. God said to Noah, “Because the earth is filled with wrongdoing, I am about to destroy it. Make yourself an ark of wood with enclosures for animals. I shall bring a flood to destroy all flesh. But with you I will maintain my covenant.”

 

Noah and his household entered the ark. Then all living creatures, two by two, male and female, came to Noah in the ark.

 

And the rain came upon the earth for 40 days and nights, covering the highest mountains and blotting out all living things. Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark were left.

 

God remembered Noah and the ark. God caused a wind to pass over the earth and the waters subsided over many months.

 

God said to Noah, “Go forth from the ark with your household. Be fruitful and multiply.”

 

God said to Noah and his sons, “I will establish my covenant with you and your descendants after you and with every living creature on the earth. Never again shall all flesh be destroyed by flood waters.”

 

Now, the whole earth was of one language. And one said to another, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower whose top shall reach to heaven. Let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered all over the earth.”

 

God came down to see the city and the tower. He made their language wither away so that one no longer understood the other. Then God scattered them across the earth and they stopped building the city. God named the city Babel.

 

Commentary on the second parsha (portion of the Torah) 

 

The Torah consists of the five books of Moses, the first part of the Old Testament.

 

To get to grips with this parsha, our Supermaven, Sigmund Albert Spinoza, interviews Methuselah Solomon (an Ancient Elder). Supermaven is a modern philosopher who is trying to understand Judaism and how we got where we are. He will do this every week by investigating the Old Testament.

SAS: Now, what about the story of the flood? You don’t seriously expect us, as adults, to believe that God made it as a punishment for mankind. Again? Why are we always to be punished?

MS: I’ve told you before – we use cautionary tales to make sure that people follow the correct ways of living. 

SAS: Do I get you right? One man is saved along with his family, because he was righteous? So, are we supposed to believe that if you are good, you will be spared punishment, even natural disasters?

MS: Well, the truth is, as you know, some people do survive floods. 

SAS: Sure, and they do so by building arks and getting a pair of every living species into them! What on earth makes you think anyone will believe this story? 

MS: Just because you are a rationalist, Sigmund, doesn’t mean you have to be so literal. Of course it never happened exactly like in the story. But it’s a very good story. It makes some very useful points. 

SAS: Such as? If you are good, God will save you? And extra points to those who look after animals? 

MS: Well, how about this? We cannot defeat nature in all its ferocity, but we can shelter in the vessels we build for our own journeys through life. We need to believe that living ethically and building ourselves a careful protection against forces we cannot fully understand will keep us safe.  

SAS: That’s reasonable advice. But it doesn’t seem to help all the people who are wiped out by natural, let alone man-made, disasters.  

MS: Well, humankind is still alive and thriving, even though many have been wiped out. So far, we have built our physical arks and they have stayed afloat. The idea of the ark is just as powerful in the waters of tradition, history, culture, law and ethics. Our ark is our culture and our tradition, and our faith is that we will be protected as long as we stay within the ark.   

SAS: Well, I wonder if faith is necessary to keep that ark afloat. Our culture and our tradition are enough. 

MS: I don’t know what’s enough. What matters is that it’s a Jewish ark, and it’s the ark that’s lasted the longest. Stay on board. That is the point. 

SAS: Can we discuss Babel? 

MS: The point of that story is simple – we made up a tale to explain why different races are scattered across the earth. People need to understand that there are reasons for our differences, in language, culture and ethnic origin. 

 SAS: You storytellers must have had a problem trying to explain why there are so many different languages and how it is that people didn’t understand one another. 

MS: Well, that’s true. Even in biblical times, there were many different languages. But they all started from one language. 

SAS: Well, perhaps. Language development is a natural phenomenon. It’s like genetics. Different groups who stay together in closed communities begin to develop their own language. The more separated they are from other groups, the more their languages diverge. It’s quite possible their languages were once the same, or closely related. But over time, languages follow their own developmental path. 

MS: Yes, but we wanted to explain to people why that happened. 

SAS: You didn’t need to bring god and punishment into it, again. It’s perfectly clear without any mystical explanation. Why should the wonderful fact that human beings use such a diversity of languages be the result of punishment?  

MS: People always need to humble themselves before God – bow down before him. The Babel crowd did the opposite. They were asserting themselves too arrogantly and too confidently.  That’s not the sort of behaviour that maintains small group identity and keeps people tightly knit in their community and strong in their difference.  

SAS: You could have let the people of Babel prosper. Surely we should all aspire to speaking the same language and understanding one another without any difficulties? In many respects, the Babel crowd was ahead of its time. 

MS: Look, people had a responsibility to the land, not to building big cities. That’s part of what the story is saying. 

SAS: Fair enough. We urbanites don’t give the land enough thought. But, really, the story of Babel is just one of a number of possible accounts. Surely you can see that?

 

History 

 

The Parsha we have just read comes from the five books of Moses, the Torah. The dialogues between Sigmund Albert Spinoza and Methuselah Solomon are about the meaning of the Parsha.

 

What we know about Jewish History, however, is based in fact, and on historical records. 

 

We now continue the conversation about Jewish history between Ben Israel, his sister Chaya and their father. 

 

Three celebrants can read the parts of Ben, Chaya and their father  

 

Father: Well, Ben and Chaya. I promised you a continuation of the Jewish story. Let’s talk about the time of the flood.

 

Chaya: I get the idea from what you’ve told us recently that we can regard the creation story, the Garden of Eden story and the story of the Flood as myths based on folk memory. Well, that’s all very well, but obviously these sorts of stories can’t be proved or disproved. So the roots of Jewish history must come from somewhere else. 

 

Father: You’re right. From what I’ve read, the beginning of our history wasn’t as sudden as the bible makes it, but it was dramatic in its own way. Sometime around 2000 BCE there was a disruption in Central Asia caused by invaders from the East. This invasion forced people from Mesopotamia to be displaced and move towards the Mediterranean. 

 

Ben: You mean like a giant chain reaction? 

 

Father: Pretty much. And it looks like our ancestors were amongst those who were shuffled along the chain. I’m talking about the Habiru, a group comprising a real mixed bag of people. They included mercenaries, tinkers, merchants, pedlars, bandits, fugitives and runaway slaves. Many scholars believe that the Habiru were our Hebrew ancestors and, if that’s true, then the leader of one Habiru group was the character we know as Abraham, our famous forebear, who is said to have made a special deal with God. It is a traditional belief that, in terms of this deal, the Jews became the Chosen People. Different Jewish groups understand this concept in different ways and there is a mass of argument about what it means to be the chosen people. For non-believing Jews, for instance, there is no god to elect the Jews as his chosen people – so they reject the concept.

 

Chaya: OK, whatever the case, the story then goes on to God giving Canaan (which Jews call the Land of Israel) to his people as he had promised Abraham. 

 

Father: Yes, and Jacob, Abraham’s grandson is then tasked with bringing the Land of Israel and its people into existence. According to the Bible the twelve tribes of Israel were descended from Jacob. Then through Joseph, Jacob’s favourite son, they land in Egypt. That’s the bible. But there are other, historical sources that give us some evidence that the Habiru were in Egypt and of their struggle against the Egyptians.  

 

Ben: So where in history does the story of the exodus from Egypt come from? 

 

Father: Good question. The short answer is that it comes from a later period – around the 14th century BCE. According to Egyptian documents there was a rebellion of the Habiru against the Egyptians and they were taken into slavery as punishment. But in about 1220 BCE a group of Habiru slaves escaped Egypt and returned to Canaan. Meeting up with other Habiru, the united group formed a powerful army that conquered most of Canaan. This seems to be the historical origin of the story of the escape from Egypt and the opening of the Red Sea. 

 

Chaya: And what about the story about Moses being given the Ten Commandments? 

 

Father:  Well, that’s part of the bible story. Today, however, we know that similar codes of ethical behaviour had existed in the Near East in various versions for centuries. The story of Moses carving the commandments in stone tablets is probably a dramatic invention. Actually, Jewish law was codified over a long period of time. 

 

If you’d like to know more about the real history of our extended Jewish family, read on. 

 

In the following centuries the Hebrew tribes united under the monarchy of Judah. Later, King David captured Jerusalem, built the Temple, and united the two kingdoms in which the Hebrew tribes lived: Israel in the north and Judah in the south. David was a warrior. As well as a musician and a poet, as far as we know. David’s son, Solomon was a much more secular person and his writings are less religious. His policies caused the two kingdoms to separate. Then, Israel was conquered by the Assyrians in 722 BCE and the northern kingdom ceased to exist. Judah was conquered by the Babylonians around 586 BCE. The Hebrews were taken into exile and the centre of Jewish learning moved to Babylon, ruled by King Nebuchadnezzar. This move into exile was very important in the development of Jewish religion.

 

It was during the short period of the exile that circumcision became an entrenched ritual as well as the keeping of the Sabbath, and the celebrations of Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The harvest festivals of Sukkot and Shavuot gained in significance because the Jews were cut off from their land, and these ceremonies were powerful reminders of the community’s agricultural background.   

 

The exile, interpreted by the Jewish prophets as God’s punishment for a lack of devoutness by the community, ended after King Cyrus the Great of Persia conquered Babylon. Between 520-445 BCE four waves of Jews were allowed to return to Judah and the Second Temple was built in Jerusalem.

 

In the long period up to 165 BCE the Jews lived in harmony with the Persians, and as far as we know, Jewish scholars wrote and codified the five books of Moses, what we call the Torah. But it wasn’t very peaceful after that. The Jews were conquered by many different armies, one after another: first by Alexander the Great, then Ptolemaic Egypt and the Seleucids. And after all that, the Greek world influenced the course of Jewish culture too. 

 

These events hardened the resolve of the Jewish ancestors to defend the Temple they had built and to protect the Torah and the tradition they practised.  Jews saw it as their purpose as a people to protect what was special: Jewish traditions and Jewish beliefs. 

 

Celebration of Great Lives

 

Every Friday night we celebrate the achievements of our Jewish family in contributing to changing the world for the better and having an extraordinary impact on those around them. 

 

Rosa Robota: Heroine of Auschwitz 

In November 1942, Rosa Robota, at age 21, arrived at Auschwitz. She organised about twenty other women to smuggle explosive black powder into the crematoria and chambers. The explosives were made into bombs using sardine tins and assembled by a Russian POW munitions expert named Timofei Borodin, and then hidden around the camp. On October 7, 1944, Crematorium IV was blown up. Four SS men were killed and several wounded. In the panic and pandemonium, around 600 of the Sonderkommando were able to break through the fences and escape. Captured by the Germans and subjected to horrendous torture, Rosa did not betray the underground. She asked that the underground continue its work even in the face of retributive acts, such as her own imminent execution. At 23 years old, Rosa and her three comrades Regina Sapirstein, Ella Gartner and Esther Weisblum were hanged before the camp population. Her last message was a note scratched on a piece of paper she managed to smuggle from her cell: “Hazak V' Ematz”: Be Strong & Brave. The actions of the underground activists meant that the capacity of the camp was reduced and thousands lived who otherwise would have died. Of the millions killed at Auschwitz, only a few individuals have been immortalised. Rosa Robota will be remembered as one of the few who did not follow the lines into the chambers – but chose death by resistance.  

The achievements of Rosa Robota will not be forgotten. 

 

Levi Strauss (1829 – 1902) 

Over a hundred years ago men wore clothes that identified them as men, and women clothes that identified them as women. There was no shared item of clothing. Then a clothing revolution took place, started by an itinerant German peddler in San Francisco. Levi Strauss set up a wholesale business selling durable canvas pants, and both men and women wore these new clothes that he invented. He brought about the change from using canvas, which chafed the miners, to “serge de Nimes”, which we now know as denim. In 1873, Strauss incorporated copper rivets to strengthen the pockets of denim work pants and he also added a pocket stitch design. The result? The first blue jeans in San Francisco! Once the workpants of cowboys, miners and ranchers, jeans have swept the world in recent decades to become the daily choice of men and women in practically every country in the world.       

And their inventor, Levi Strauss, was Jewish.

Sayings 

 

Every Shabbat we read five short sayings that express, with typically Jewish wit and humour, insightful reflections on this life of ours.

 

Here are tonight’s sayings: 

 

  • Give every man the benefit of the doubt
  • Don’t offer pearls to men who deal in onions
  • Better ask 10 times than get lost once 
  • If things aren’t the way you like, like them the way they are 
  • Grey hair is a sign of age, not wisdom 

 

HOW TO SING THE SONGS
ADON OLAM WORDS
Adon Olam David Solid Gould & The Temple Rockers
ALL MEN ARE BROTHERS
ALLE BRUDER SONG
ALLE BRIDER SONG
AL KOL ELEH WORDS
AL KOL ELEH
BASHANA words
BASHANA SONG
BEI MIR BIST DU SHEYN
BEI MIR BIST DU SCHEYN SONG
BMBDS song
CHIRIBIM WORDS
CHIRIBIM Song
DAYENU WORDS
DAYENU SONG ENGLISH
DAYENU SONG
DONNA DONNA
DONNA DONNA SONG
HALLELUYA
HALELUJA KARAOKE
HATIKVA
HATIKVA SONG
HATIKVA SONG
DAYENU
HATIKVA WORDS
HATIKVA SONG 1
HAVA NAGILA WORDS
HAVA NAGILA SONG
HAVA NAGILA KARAOKE
HAVEINU SHALOM ALEICHEM
HEVENU SHALOM ALEICHEM WORDS
HEVENU SHALOM ALECHEM SONG
HINEH MA TOV WORDS
JERUSALEM THE GOLD WORDS
JERUSALEM THE GOLD KARAOKE IVRIT
JERUSALEM THE GOLD SONG
JERUSALEM THE GOLD JARAOKE
MAYIM MAYIM WORDS
MAYIM MAYIM DANCE
OIF'N PRIPITSCHOK song
OSE SHALOM
OSE SHALOM SONG
PAPI ROS'N
PAPIROS'N SONG
PARTISAN SONG 1
PARTISAN SONG
PARTISAN SONG MUSIC
RABBI ELIMELEKH
RABBI ELIMELEKH SONG
AS DER REBE SINGT
AS DER REBBE SINGT LEONARD COHEN
AS DER REBBE SINGT SONG
RAISINS WITH ALMONDS WORDS
SIMANTOV U MAZELTOV WORDS
SIMAN TOV MUSIC
MAZELTOV CLARINET
TUMBALALAIKA WORDS
TUMBALALAIKA MUSIC
TUMBALALAIKA MUSIC
TZENA TZENA
TZENA TZENA
TZENA TZENA 4
TZENA TZENA The Weavers
TZENA TZENA WORDS
ALLE BRIDER KLEZMATICS
ALLE BRIDER KLEZMATICS
HATIKVA STREISAND
HATIKVA STREISAND
BIM BAM SHABBAT SHALOM FOR KIDS
BIM BAM SHABBAT SHALOM FOR KIDS
YO EN ESTANDO - SEPHARDIC
ELIYAHU SEPHARDIC
SEPHARDIC SONG
SEPHARDIC SONG 3
Sholem Aleichem Susan Allen
Shalom Aleichem Susan Allen
OTHER VERSIONS OF SONGS
DUVID CROCKET WORDS
DUVID CROCKET MICKEY KATZ
MODERN PASSOVER SONGS
This will help you find yourself]