Congregation Etz Hayim at Hollis Hills Bayside

The consolidated communities of Hollis Hills Bayside Jewish Center and Marathon Jewish Community Center

Shabbat Noah 5776

The results of the sixth day of Creation were not just good, but tov meod, very good. Presumably, that’s because we–humanity–were created on that day. But it doesn’t take God long to lament having created human beings. This week’s portion, Parshat Noah, describes God’s attempt to start over in light of that miscalculation.

After enabling Noah and his immediate family to find shelter from the floodwaters, God articulates a realization about human nature: “The devisings of man’s mind are evil from his youth” (Genesis 8:21). The good news is that God promises never to wipe us away as a result. The bad news is that we are apparently flawed to the core.

This is one of the most troubling verses in the Torah, either because it isn’t true, or because it is. What has always perplexed me, and many traditional commentators through the years, is the meaning of the word “mine’urav,” translated above is “from his youth.” Some commentators think it simply means “early on,” as if to say that we are born with the evil inclination, yetzer hara. But if taken literally, the implication is that evil is nurtured in youth, in the formative years. 

On Shabbat morning, we will delve a bit more deeply into this verse, and grapple with the most recent expression of evil as it is directed at our brothers and sisters in Israel. On this Shabbat of Unity with the People of Israel, we will seek comfort from community, from God, and from the wisdom of our Torah.

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi David Wise