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Story, Parshat Noach, 10/23/20

10/27/2020 04:05:53 PM


Rabbi Charlie

Around Halloween time, I try to bring in some of the weird or spooky aspects of Jewish tradition and this year, there happens to be a great story from rabbinic literature involving Noah’s Ark – which is in this week’s Torah Reading – and a giant. I just learned that there have been over two thousand sightings of Bigfoot in Washington State, so I’m feeling the giant love – and Og – that’s his name - is a giant that you can love. Some stories about Og speak of him as an enemy of the Jews, but this one shows his softer side.

It was well known that Noah was building an Ark because God was going to bring a big flood, but he needed help collecting all of the animals. Noah turned to Og. Some say that every step he took was three miles long. Others said that Og was either as tall as a cedar tree or only thirteen feet tall. Regardless, Og went to the four corners of the earth, from the coldest to the hottest, from the darkest to the brightest, and he found every animal on earth and brought them to the ark.

Soon the animals were safe and the great rains began to fall and the waters began to rise. Noah was about to set sail when Og cried out, “Noah, please don’t leave me here to drown. Let me come along, too.” Noah thought about it, but couldn’t figure out how to get the giant into the ark. “Let me sit on the roof,” said Og. Noah was scared that Og’s great weight would sink the ark, but when Og climbed on and everything was ok, he knew that God wanted him to save the giant.

The rain fell and Og was cold and wet and miserable. But when he needed food, all the animals remembered how Og had brought them to the ark and they shared some of their portion. And when he needed drink, they shared of their milk. As days passed, it got harder and harder for Og to sit on the ark – which was made of hard wood. So all the birds gave of their feathers and Noah and his family used all of their sheets to make a great pillowcase, which made things a lot more comfortable.  

The rain eventually stopped. The waters eventually went down. It was a long and difficult time for Og and for everyone in the ark, but they all made it through. As they departed to start life anew, Og offered great appreciation for all of the animals who supported him. And that sense of gratitude was matched by all the animals, who greatly appreciated all that Og had done for them.

Someone may not appear to fit in – due to their size or their ideas or anything. All the more reason to remember that we’re all in the same boat! This is our community, our congregation. And while we’re not facing a worldwide flood that is wiping out all life on earth, it’s still not easy. And in our congregation and beyond our congregation we need to do all we can to care for each other and let people know – you’re a part of us. You’re valued. You belong.

Shabbat Shalom!

Thu, January 21 2021 8 Sh'vat 5781