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    An ark to hide in – No’ach

    Biblical events cast a shadow across human history. Whatever happens has its Biblical analogy.

    Pinchas Peli showed this in regard to the Holocaust when he wrote about Adam and Eve, Abraham and Isaac, Moses and Aaron and other models of response.

    A particularly fruitful source of analogy is to be found in the story of Noah and the flood.

    It can be used in many ways, including modern man’s search for a means of escape. Maybe we should not speak of flood waters threatening to engulf civilisation when real tsunamis cause so much havoc, but the metaphor is too powerful to abandon.

    It is not only natural disasters but human culpability that threatens us. Listing examples is not necessary. It is obvious what we’re talking about.

    We would all like to be Jonah going down to his cabin to sleep when the boat is rocking. We would like to be Noah taking his family and animals into an ark and sail away from the problems.

    Noah may be a better example than Jonah because he took others with him. But the problem is the same: the world is frightening – how can I escape?

    The sobering fact is that sailing away from disaster is not always or necessarily the best answer and we have to try to work through the problems.

    If this does not succeed, there may be an argument for running away in the hope that we will live to see another day and try to rebuild the world.

    I am reminded of the debates when communism was at its height (some would say, its lowest). The options were summed up graphically: “Red or dead?”

    A leading rabbi was criticised for thinking that rather than giving up and letting ourselves be killed we could go along with communism on a temporary basis in order to survive and one day recreate civilisation, a sort of Noah argument.

    Today he might say that the collapse of the Soviet regime proved him right. That remains a subject of debate, but it pinpoints the question of how valid it is to try to hide away and escape.

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