• Gabbai

Noach – A Challenging Passage

One of the most building phrases for children is to hear from their parents and caregivers that they are loved. Knowing they are loved, and loved unconditionally, lays the foundation in a child for self-esteem and confidence. I once heard Rabbi Noach Orlowek comment that parents should tell their children “I love you because you are mine,” thus removing any conditions to the love and eliminating the child’s instinctive feeling that they need to earn the love. (Rabbi Orlowek, in addition to his credentials as an educator and counselor, has raised 13 children, which gives him a separate set of credentials.) Conversely, one of the most painful messages a child can hear from a parent is rejection, even regret for having had the child. To feel unwanted by the very people who are meant to provide love and security to a fragile child during crucial stages of development is devastating. No child should ever be made to feel such rejection. But it happens in our society, and the scars don’t heal well.

At the end of Bereshit the Torah states: “And the Lord saw that the evil of mankind on the earth was great, and all the drives of his heart’s thoughts were only evil all the day.”(Genesis 6:5) The people inhabiting the earth had become corrupt. They had embraced immoral lifestyles, pursued hedonism and pleasure, and had no regard for the property of others. This conduct would make any good leader distraught. But the following verse is an exceptional blow. “And the Lord regretted that he had made man in the land and His heart was saddened.”

How are we to understand this? It is difficult from a theological point of view, and it is difficult to swallow in terms of the relationship between God and man. Theologically this challenges our notion of God’s omniscience. Did God really not see this coming? Was He taken by surprise? It is common for humans to misread or wrongly predict a forecast. The biggest expert can’t predict what stocks will go up next month – this is why investors make sure to have a varied portfolio. But the most basic faith in God believes with certainty that God “knows” (or controls) which stocks rise and which fall. God is all knowing and immune from any errors. Regret is not something that should ever occur