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Temple Israel of Scranton

Temple Israel of Scranton

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Parashat Noah, 5781

Posted on October 23, 2020

Shel Silverstein’s Unicorn Song has been stuck in my head all week. I keep humming about those green alligators and long-necked geese, humpty-backed camels and some chimpanzees,  cats and rats and elephants, but sure as I’m born, I ain’t gonna see no unicorn. (adapted)

It is, of course, Parashat Noah this week. And one of the images that the story of Noah evokes is weather-related destruction. Talk about climate change! The flood as it is presented in Genesis caused utter annihilation of the world. All land-based life was gone.

The Torah relates that when Noah and his family came out of the ark, God promised that never again will God send a flood to destroy the whole earth. Note that God did not promise that humanity will not be able to cause such catastrophic climate change that the world is destroyed. We know we can. We know that we are doing so.

Back to that song that won’t get out of my head. Why, according to the Unicorn Song, will I never be able to see a unicorn? Because instead of heeding the warnings and boarding the ark, the unicorns cavorted in the rain, kicking and splashing and playing hide and seek. The ark sailed away without them and they were lost.  As far as I know, Shel Silverstein was writing an amusing children’s song, not social commentary. But just the same, we do not want to be those unicorns.

It is not yet too late. We can make choices that will protect and begin to heal the world God has given to us. We need to make those choices, both on the individual and on the societal levels. As much as we have other things on our plates to worry about, we must care about this as well. Because the choice is to lose our seat on the ark.