Halloween Parsha

I originally wrote this on Halloween 2003 Someone asked me what I was doing on Halloween, especially considering that it falls on Shabbat this year. Even though Halloween/Samhain isn’t really part of my spiritual practice, I became curious about what the Torah portion for this Shabbat is. It turns out that it is The Flood and The Tower of Babel. I was floored. As I re-read the passages, I was struck by the layers of extra meaning & symbolism I found by linking the two stories together. Two stories of destruction brought on by the failings of humanity; two stories where not only humanity learns lessons from choices made, but also G-d. It is strange to think of G-d ‘learning,’ but if man is made in G-d’s image and can grow and learn – why not G-d. So often we are presented with an image of G-d as immoveable and unchanging through-out all time, but a careful reading of the Torah presents us with many examples of G-d growing and changing over time. At the end of the story of Noah, G-d promises never again to wreak destruction on the world to punish humanity. In the very next story instead of drowning the world or reducing it to ashes, G-d acts surgically and goes right after the human world. Animals don’t really care if we all speak different languages. Over and over, G-d reacts in new and different ways. Here a whole city is destroyed. There – a single person is punished. In our quests to grow closer to the Divine we should look to learn and grow and not remain unchangeable and steadfast when new information presents...

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