Noah Was a Survivor

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Of all the gigs I’ve ever had, this had to be the most extreme. And I wasn’t even there.

noah graffiti

To celebrate reading the story of Noah in the Torah, Amsterdam Jewish Salon had a cruise. And they showed the Noah G-dcast, which I {humbly} narrated.

amsterdam noah cruise

You might think it’s heretical to take a leisurely cruise in order to honor the sole survivor of a catastrophic event that, well, annihilated the rest of the world. I might disagree with you. I grew not far from the ocean. My parents carried on the ancient Jewish tradition of taking us to Atlantic City for weekends during the summer. When I lived on my own, I moved to San Francisco, and stopped at the ocean every week before Shabbos.

I love watching the ocean. And I’m scared to death of it. It’s the most tangible part of God that we can get close to: it’s bigger than any human eye can fathom, shapeless, and deadly. I think I’ve read somewhere that humans have explored less than 10% of the total mass of the ocean. If there’s undeniable proof of the Flood, or any other mysteries of creation/the Big Bang/early Earth history, it’s probably lurking somewhere down deep, protected by some fearsome sea creatures bigger than dinosaurs.

Or maybe there’s nothing…and that just makes the mystery that much more mysterious.

Either way, the ocean is huge. It’s big and it’s bad. There’s a reason that nearly every sea shanty ends in tragedy, the same as every life ends in death. Noah’s not just the story of some dude and his boat. It’s the story of the sole survivor of a global tragedy, and — although my G-dcast implies that he wasn’t the best person in the world — tragedies transform people. The same way Holocaust survivors and military veterans have some unspoken piece of wisdom that the rest of us will never be able to understand, that’s what Noah has. And that, much as God and the depths of the ocean itself, is un-understandable.

Posted on October 22, 2009

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