So Many Beginnings

[Parashat Noach 2013]

How many times can something restart? Our year begins anew with Rosh Hashanah; 10 days later, on Kol Nidrei, we ask God to forgive promises yet made, promises we will make in the coming year that will go unfulfilled.  Our Torah cycle then begins anew less than 2 weeks later on Simchat Torah….and now in only the second week of our Torah cycle our world is destroyed and recreated, here in parashat Noach.  This rhythm each year leaves me feeling like I do when I am on a boat (that is, wishing that I could enjoy the scenery and the peacefulness and at the same time holding on for dear life).  It is a bit of a roller coaster.

From the very beginning of Torah and of our history, we see that humankind is imperfect – from the moment in the Garden of Eden, we humans are pulled at by yetzeir hatov (our inclination to good) and yetzei hara (our inclination to evil).  Now, after the flood, in Genesis 8:21, God promises to humankind: “Never again will I bring doom upon the world on account of what people do, though the human mind inclines to evil from youth onward (bold is my commentary); never again will I destroy all living beings, as I have just done.”  And God continues in Genesis 9:12-15 – “And God said, ‘Here is the sign I am giving you of the covenant between Me and you, and every living being with you, down to the last generation: I have placed My bow in the cloud – it will be a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. And when I cause clouds to form over the earth, and the bow appears in the cloud, I will remember My covenant between Me and you and all living beings, all flesh, and never again shall the waters become a flood, to destroy all flesh.’”

It is as if from the moment of creation, God is still discovering the qualities of humankind, assessing and reassessing our potential.  We know, too, that in the Book of Exodus, God will establish and reestablish a covenant specifically with the Israelites.  Despite repeated disappointments, God remains faithful and hopeful in us, adjusting expectations and offering humankind new tools and guidance.  While faith recognizes that God will persevere with us, this two-sided covenant requires us to actively remain in relationship with the Divine. Second chances abound in our tradition, but they don’t come without both parties stepping forward.

If God can give second chances, should not we as well? Let us ask ourselves this week: To what or whom do I owe a second chance in my life?  What can seem like the very worst possible situation and outcome may lead to the possibility for something new, something different, something wonderful.  That, too, will be fraught with its challenges.  So, I can only live with attention and mindful to each moment.   Each day is a new beginning.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Kathy Herder
    Oct 04, 2013 @ 19:37:36

    Thanks Susan, so much to think about with this post, so pertinent in so many areas. xox, Kathy



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