When Life Changes

Noach: A resource for families

Commentary on Parashat Noach, Genesis 6:9 - 11:32

Most families have to deal with difficult change at some point or another–whether it’s unemployment or illness or loss.  When a family navigates these changes, they also have to help their children through the radical changes in their lives.

Noah, the hero of this week’s biblical portion, experienced radical change. He and his family were the sole survivors of a flood that destroyed everything. They were forced to begin their lives all over again. But Noah, after all, isn’t perfect.  After the flood one of the first things Noah does is get drunk. By portraying Noah in this way, the Bible is acknowledging that it couldn’t have been easy for Noah.

The world changed radically for him and he was forced to begin a new life.  Beginning anew after loss can be arduous and lonely. Many turn to drink or food or drugs to help them through the rough spots, but surely abusing ourselves is not the answer.

Parents need other tools to help their families through change. The challenge is to offer alternatives to destructive behavior. Perhaps Noah didn’t have the resources we might turn to–the support of a friend, a group or a religious community. Acknowledging the difficulty of the moment and giving support can be a good beginning despite the shifting ground beneath one’s feet. Feeling like we are standing on solid ground ourselves is the only way we can begin to help our children deal with what we find so difficult.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about Noah and the flood and the changes people have to undergo at times in their lives.


· What have been difficult changes in your life?
· What has helped you deal with these changes?
· Are we like Noah, who handles his reaction to radical change and feelings of stress by abusing others or ourselves?

© Copyright 2010 Joyce and Fred Claar

From “Values and Ethics: Torah Topics for Today,” available from Behrman House Publishers.

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