"May Adonai bless you and protect you! May Adonai deal kindly and graciously with you! May Adonai lift up his countenance upon you and grant you peace!" (Torah, Numbers 6:24-26) And Jesus said, "Allow the little children to come unto me. Forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of God. Truly, I say unto you, unless you receive the Kingdom of God as a little child does, you shall not enter therein." (New Testament, Mark 10:14-16)

Sojourning at an Oasis Paradise

My purpose for living this life, and for writing this blog, is to understand the faith that links us to God. I wish to explore and discuss the reality at the heart of all of the world's religions. This is an immense task, but I know that God also has faith in us, trusting that we do desire the truth, as well as freedom, love and wisdom. Thus, as always, He meets us halfway. Even as God has given us individual souls, so we must each of us trace out an individual pathway to God. Whether we reside in the cities of orthodox religion, or wend our solitary ways through the barren wastelands, God watches over us and offers us guidance and sustenance for the journey.

Most of what you will see here is the result of extensive personal study, combined with some careful speculation. Occasionally, I may simply offer some Scripture or an inspirational text. I am a wide reader, and the connection of some topics and ideas to matters of faith and religion may not seem immediately obvious, but perhaps I may spell it out in the end... or maybe, you will decide that it was just a tangent. Anyway, I hope that you will find my meanderings to be spiritually enlightening, intellectually stimulating, or at least somewhat entertaining.

In the coming weeks and months, I intend to transcribe a series of essays that I wrote about 20 years ago in the hope that I might get them published. They represent the nucleus of my spiritual life and the focal point around which my wanderings revolve like an electron in an atom. I hope that they might eventually serve as a springboard for discussions about the common spiritual heritage of humanity. May we come together and embrace each other in peace.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Faith of Noah: simple and free for all

It was written long ago that God (Baruch haShem) once looked upon the world He had created, and the peolpe in it, and was disgusted with the way it was following. There was no justice, and the people were full of immorality and sin. They had all forgotten about Him, save one. Only Noah remained devoted to the Creator. This state of affairs was intolerable, so God (BhS) decided to erase Humanity and their works from the face of the world, and start over again. He only told Noah of his plans, but Noah had pity on his fellows and begged God to be allowed to warn them of their coming doom, to give them the option to repent and save themselves. God agreed and told Noah to build a great ship, an ark, and gave him permission to explain to the people what he was doing and why. Noah did this, and he explained his laborious project to any and all who asked. But the people mocked him, for he was building his ship far from any sea. Noah told them that God (BhS) was going to make it rain for so long that there wasn't going to be any place far from the sea, that the whole world would be drowned, unless they turned from their selfish, sinful and cruel ways. But they didn't listen. God (BhS) allowed Noah to take into his ship pairs of all the animals he could find, and his whole family, and then it began to rain. When the floods began, the people came to Noah and begged him to save them, but God (BhS) would not let him. They had been warned with plenty of time to change their ways, but they had not believed. The ark floated away, and the cities and villages of the people were all washed from the land. No one was left, only Noah and his family. When the waters finally subsided, and Noah was at last able to climb down from His ship, they were the last, only, people on Earth. Noah was very upset. While he was very grateful to God (BhS) for saving him, he was sad that there were no others, that all had been killed. So God, ever compassionate and merciful, told Noah that He would never do that again, and He gave a sign in the sky, the rainbow, for a remembrance of his promise.

Noah was a very wise man. He asked God (BhS) what he should do to prevent his descendants from repeating the mistakes of the past. And so, God (BhS) made a covenant with Noah, and gave him seven laws that he should pass on to future generations. If these would be remembered, those who kept them would not again fall into wickedness, but would be accounted as righteous and wise among men. These seven laws were kept as simple as possible, because Noah and his family were simple people. They can be found in Genesis, chapter 9, but one version of them I shall list here:

1. You shall not have any idols before God.
2. You shall not murder.
3. You shall not steal.
4. You shall not commit sexual immorality.
5. You shall not blaspheme God's name.
6. You shall not eat flesh taken from a living animal.
7. You shall set up just laws and courts.

There have been a few additions to this list, over the course of time, but these seven are sufficient for anyone who follows them, not because they are reasonable or a good way to live, but because they come from God (BhS).

Many years later, Abraham and his father, Terah, found that they could not live in Ur of the Chaldees, because they had reverted to idol worship. Indeed, Terah, had been am idol-maker, until he realized it was wrong and destroyed his entire inventory of merchandise. Then he turned the leadership of the family over to Abraham, and they headed south along the Fertile Crescent until they came into Canaan, near present-day Jerusalem, and met a righteous King, Melchizadek. There Abraham bought a plot of land and decided to stay. He kept the laws of Noah, until God came to him and chose him to be the founder of a new covenant, to bring His words unto all nations.

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