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 itself.