Yom Kippur 2004
From Noah to Jonah through Abraham
by Rabbi Miriam T. Spitzer
There was evil and violence in the land and everyone was in on it. Well, almost everyone. Only Noah was righteous. Something had to be done. So God called Noah and said: "Noah, build an ark out of gopher wood, to the following specifications." So Noah built an ark out of gopher wood, according to the instructions given to him by God. And Noah and his family rode out the storm, accompanied by animals of all sorts.
But when the whole thing was over, Noah planted a vineyard and got dead drunk. Perhaps we can say that Noah had survivor guilt. And when the whole thing was over, God put a rainbow in the sky, and promised that never again would God destroy the whole world. Clearly God did not like how the whole thing had been handled. Perhaps we could say that God had survivor guilt.
passed, and once again there was evil and violence in the land and everyone was
in on it. Again God knew that something had to be done. But God remembered the
flood, and decided that it would be done differently this time. "Should I
hide from Abraham what I am about to do?" God wondered. God told Abraham
that the evil of
It was handled differently, but as God watched the smoke rising from the rubble, God thought that it was not different enough. There had to be a better way.
years passed. Again there was an evil city, and again God determined that
something had to be done. This time God called Jonah and told him to go warn
the Ninevites that if they do not repent, their city would be destroyed. Jonah
was not like Noah; he did not silently obey. Jonah was not like Abraham; he did
not argue with God. Jonah, his own man, picked himself up and fled in the other
direction. But to no avail. Eventually he had to go to
The evil had been stopped, and the sinner had not been punished! Jonah did not like it. But God did. Finally a model that could work without floods, fire, or brimstone. Finally a non-violent end to evil. When given the chance, people could repent and change, and maybe they would. This new system found favor in the eyes of God.
And that is what Yom Kippur is all about.