Torah Study Notes 11-19-16

November 19, 2016

Class led by Senior Rabbi – Paul Golomb.

Page 123

Note the interaction of personalities – Abraham, Sarah, the strangers and God. God is a personality here as well. The portion opens right after all the males in the household have been circumcised.

18:1 Abraham sees three men and offers them hospitality. LL There is an implicit assumption that the strangers will move on. They are likely armed. A has already shown he can defend himself – is a pretty effective military leader. Hospitality is offered with limitations. The text is signaling something to the reader about the divinity of the strangers that A himself does not know. Note that he rushes but does not appear to invite them into his tent. He hurries to do a good deed. At age 99 he has circumcision without anesthesia. He must be uncomfortable but he still runs to greet them. In the Torah the stranger is generally a manifestation of the Eternal. A technique in epic literature is not to build to an event. You are told the subject matter right from the start and then are engaged in the journey. This is true in Gilgamesh and others. There is no sense of mystery in the sense of  not knowing what is happening.  Abraham purposely understates his hospitality as “a little bit of water and bread” whereas he then puts out a feast

18:6  He prepares a feast but note that it is not kashrut –there is a mixing of meat and milk. A matter of Jewish apologia with respect to Christianity was to insist that Abraham Isaac and Jacob knew Torah – although they are part of it and it was not yet written. This worked against the Christian notion that religion is based on faith rather than revelation. If these men are “angels” why do they eat? PG In Torah as in much of the bible there are a group of super-luminary beings – they are avatars of God – they are God appearing in human form.  See The Great Chain of Being which makes Plato’s argument that there are no gaps in the hierarchy of things – ranging from rock at the bottom to God at the top. See:

The theological challenge in Christianity was the meaning of the Trinity – which led to the council of Nicaea – the reformation etc. Diarmaid MacCulloch in writing about Christianity suggests that the Muslim conquest of Europe was because the Christians were fighting one another over these theological issues. See:

18:9 Sara laughs. Will she bear a child when she has grown so old? Think of this as a stage production – where the characters are and who is being addressed. God has appeared in the first verse and now reappears. Sarah is behind the curtain but can hear the conversation. There is a conflation here of the strangers and God. That is an elusive issue. But there is an awareness nevertheless. It appears that God knew what she was thinking. We, as readers, have to figure out the inflections because that is not indicated in the Hebrew. The innovation of Hebrew was vowels – which provided a sense of pronunciation. Catholic doctrine emphasizes God’s grace here – that these three individuals were selected at random whereas in Judaism it has to do with being worthy – taking responsibility. This notion is closer to the Protestant view. But the worthiness of A can only be understood with the presence of Sarah – she represents the reality check.  See Mary Poppiin song “I love to Laugh” which state the different forms of laughter. Isaac means “to laugh.”  This is not the only instance where God speaks directly to a woman. Cf Hagar at the spring.  But there is an ambiguity here – is the speaker Abraham and not God? This appears to be their reward for hospitality to strangers. When she says she did not laugh – she meant not aloud.  Consider Karen Armstrong’s “A History of God.”

There is a difference between immanence and transcendence. God is saying that laughter is a good thing. Previously God has used the expression “where is” when asking Abel about Cain.

8: 16  The Eternal thought – Should I hide from Abraham what I am intending? The story of Sodom. Now we have a direct colloquy with God. God appears to be talking out load so that A can overhear. His words are not directly addressed to A.  This parsha presents the question of what is meant by justice. It brings up the notion of collateral damage. WWI was the beginning of total war – wherein civilians were also targets. Recall that during the Civil War people would go out in carriages to watch. They did not feel threatened. Where are the limits of justice? Should the innocent be destroyed together with the guilty? That is the risk whenever there is bombing or a drone strike.




Torah Study Notes 11-12-16

November 12, 2016

Discussion led by Rabbi Leah Berkowitz

Page 91 Abraham’s election as the founder of what would become Judaism – the first person to believe in one God. Called to an arduous journey late in his life. He will be the ancestor of all three monotheistic religions.

12:1 I will make your name great… This was originally written in verse; parallelisms – a chiasmus. But why him? What is God asking him to do and why would he do that? LL Most faiths begin with the inspiration of a single person. Others are worshiping another God. There are other faiths nearby that are dualist – a benevolent god and a malevolent one. A light side and a dark side – like Star Wars. Sometimes a masculine and feminine. The later tends to be pushed aside until the growth of adoration of Mary in Catholicism. There is midrash about Abraham smashing idols – which is not in the Torah. But it is interesting that he was chosen despite his flaws. One of the midrash is that his father was an idol maker and A was a rebel. The idols were destroyed by A except for one who he gave a stick. When his father returned, he asked what happened and A told him the gods had fought and only one survived. “But they are just statutes that I have made” his father said. “Then why do you worship them?” asked A.

12:4 So he set forth with his wife Sarai and his brother’s son Lot. He leaves without argument. They set forth to the land of Canaan. “I am giving this land to your descendants…” There is a psychological element here – it required a mental and physical commitment to strike off on one’s own. There are consequences to this “gift” of land that reverberate even today – as to who can occupy this land.  PC: It is comforting to replace “nation” with “a great ethical structure.” RB “Nation” just means a populous place here. It is not our modern notion of nationhood. There is an analogy here to political movements that get people fired up. Abraham may have had a message that people were waiting to hear.

12:6 He eventually travels to Egypt and prevails upon Sarai to pretend she was his sister. This worked well for Abraham initially. Pharaoh summoned A and said why did you do this? Take her and be gone! This happens twice to Sarah and once to Rebecca. SF: Why is this here? It certainly shows how flawed A was. He is tested again later. There may be similar myths in surrounding cultures. This kind of stories keep the attention of the audience. This is J and E authorship – two different stories with different kings.

12:13 He travels to Bethel and he and Lot argue. He builds an alter in Hebron. Lot picks what appears to be the most fertile land near Sodom – where wicked people lived. This is more of A separating himself from his past. In the previous parsha we see the death of his father. This separation from Lot is the last connection to his father s house.


Feeding Body, Mind, and Soul

Vassar Temple Sisterhood brings good cheer and good nourishment to people who need it greatly when they serve our community’s hungry at the “Lunchbox.” As you can see from the photos of this past Sunday, they also have a great time doing it.
Click here to learn more about Vassar Temple Sisterhood.
Visit Sisterhood’s Blog too.

Adult Ed Lecture and Discussion – Led by Martin Charwat on 11/10/16

Israel/Egypt- History of Relations
Outline notes by Martin Charwat

Circles of Influence/circles of concern:

Egypt in 1948 had not yet completely shorn off its control by Great Britain. Although nominally independent, Britain still had troops stationed in the Suez Canal Zone and exerted considerable influence over Egypt’s ruler, King Farouk. Egypt, nonetheless, was the most influential state in the Arab world, with powerful influence over its immediate neighbors, Libya to its west and Sudan to its south. Over the following years, Egypt’s power and reach grew, as it became one of the founding members of the group of nonaligned stated, including Indonesia and Yugoslavia. Courted by the Soviet Union, it managed to end British control of the Canal by 1954 and extend its influence to Syria, with which it briefly merged to form the United Arab Republic. Both Egypt and Israel were enmeshed in the Cold War, with Egypt seeking and accepting financial and military aid from the Soviet Union and its allies in the 1950’s. In the 1960’s Egypt fought a bloody, inconclusive war in Yemen. It was a major foe of Israel, losing to it in wars in 1948, 1956, and 1967 and then finally fighting pretty much to a draw in 1973.

It was a supporter of the Palestinian cause – until it reached a peace deal with Israel in 1979, after which its support for the Palestinians waned, and Egypt was expelled from the Arab League. It gained support from the United States, however, including annual receipt of money for its armed forces and for development aid as a result of its signing the Camp David accords in 1979. Egypt’s links to the U.S. were further strengthened as a result of its help in expelling Iraqi troops from Kuwait in 1991. Because of its ties to the never regained its central role in Arab affairs, as its ties to the U.S. made it unpopular in the wider Arab world.

Over the next decades, it largely stagnated, even as its population soared. Tourism and revenues from the Suez Canal kept it afloat, but barely. Growing Islamic militancy and terrorism took their toll on tourism, and a decline in oil shipments through the Canal as a result of a worldwide economic slowdown hurt revenues further, forcing Egypt to rely on contributions from the Gulf Arab states and Saudi Arabia. This dependence is resented by both the Egyptians and their benefactors, as well, and has reduced Egypt’s clout in the Arab world.
Israel went through a series of challenges from its inception. At its birth in 1948, it had to defend itself against an uncoordinated gaggle of Arab armies from Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, which it defeated. In the aftermath of its independence, Israel was weak and isolated, surrounded by enemy states and Palestinians who were furious that they and their Arab allies were unable to defeat the Israelis and secure a state of their own. Israel had to take in a massive influx of Jews who were expelled from Arab lands, – not only those of its neighbors, but also Yemen, Morocco, and Tunisia, to name but a few.

It had few supporters or allies among the nations of Europe, though West Germany was a notable exception, providing substantial money transfers in the form of wartime reparations. France was a more reluctant ally, but it helped Israel to develop its atomic energy, including, presumably atomic weapons. The United States, while the first to recognize Israel’s existence, was largely cool to it at first and highly critical of its 1956 attack on Egypt along with France and Great Britain, which the U.S. saw as an attempt to reimpose colonialism and as being inimical to its own Cold War interests.
As many nations in Africa and Asia obtained their independence in the 1950’s and 1960’s, Israel made a major push to develop close relations with them, in order to foster trade and obtain their votes in the United Nations. Israel helped many of them with agricultural development knowhow and supplies, gaining their support. Egypt sought to counter this influence by painting itself as a supporter of African liberation and as a leader of the non-aligned nations in contrast to Israel, which it sought to paint as a tool of the west. Following the Yom Kippur War of 1973 and the Arab oil boycott, much of Israel’s support among the newly independent nations weakened, as the quintupling of the price of fuel hit these developing countries hard, for which they blamed Israel. After 1994, Israel’s failure to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians rankled the developing world, where support for the Palestinians is strong. Its settlement policies are strongly criticized by most Europeans. As a result, by 2016, Israel’s relations with the rest of the world have come full circle: it finds itself again largely isolated, with unremitting hostility from most of the Arab world and Iran and its ally, Hezbollah, and strong but fraying support in the U.S., with peaceful but cool relations between itself and Egypt and Jordan.
Overarching observations:

In the beginning of Israel’s existence, Egypt was the greatest menace to Israel, as it had the largest army, posed a danger to the heartland of Israel, and supported the Fedayeen Palestinian Arab fighters in Gaza in their raids and attacks in Israel. Under Nasser, Egypt continued to be the main enemy of Israel among all of the Arab states through the 1956 War in which Israel combined with France and Great Britain in attacking Sinai and the Suez Canal, and in the 1967 Yom Kippur War, likewise precipitated by Nasser. Finally, in the apocalyptic 1973 Yom Kippur war, with Sadat at the helm, Egyptian forces crossed the Suez Canal and clobbered the Israelis, at least at first. But since 1979, Egypt and Israel have been at peace, and although relations have not been warm, they have not been warlike, either.

Since the early 1950’s and with but a brief period of civilian rule by an Islamist government, Egypt’s political life has been dominated by a single party headed by a military man. This has meant that its leaders have been able to rule with minimal parliamentary opposition, although unpopular measures, such as the removal of food and fuel subsidies, have often been met by massive street protests. With this exception, Egypt’s leaders have been able to push through their programs without having to compromise with minority parties or worry excessively about being voted out of office.

Since its inception as a state in 1948, Israel has had mostly civilians as Prime Ministers who have headed coalition governments and therefore have had to contend with a fractious political environment. Unlike Egypt, three of whose rulers – Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak, experienced long terms of office, Israel’s rulers, of whom there have been 12, rarely held office for more than a few years, except for the first, David Ben Gurion, and the current incumbent, Benjamin Netanyahu. All of these Israeli leaders have had to thread a delicate path through the political minefield in order to avoid losing support and losing office. This has often meant giving in to small, ideological factions, whose demands may have offended Israel’s broad center as well as overseas supporters.

Both Egypt and Israel lost leaders to assassins: Anwar Sadat was shot and killed by Islamists in the military who viewed him as a traitor for making a separate peace with the hated enemy, Israel, and for betraying the Palestinians; Yitzhak Rabin was shot by a right-wing religious zealot who, like many in Israel, believed that he was not committed to keeping Judea and Samaria on the West Bank as permanently part of Israel, that he did not support Jewish settlers there, and was weak in dealing with the Palestinians and their Arab supporters. Hosni Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for 30 years from 1981 until 2011, was not assassinated, but he was the victim of 6 attempts.

Neither Israel nor Egypt wanted a Palestinian state and both have worked against its creation. The massive exodus of Palestinians from Israel proper which occurred during and immediately following the creation of the State of Israel was the product both of a call from invading Arab armies to clear the way so that there would not be civilian Arab casualties caused by the invaders, AND of Israeli military action and terrorist acts committed by Israeli forces to spread fear and force them to flee. Many of these Palestinians took refuge in Gaza, which was administered by Egypt. Egypt didn’t know what to do with them. Most were housed in U.N.-run refugee camps. Egypt didn’t want to resettle them in Egypt proper and at first encouraged them to attack Israel, prompting Israeli counterattacks. When, finally, in the 1970’s and 1980’s the Palestinians developed a national organization, the Palestinian Liberation Organization, known as the PLO, the Egyptians did little to help it and the Israelis refused to negotiate with it or with its leader, Yasser Arafat. Indeed, the 1979 peace accord between Israel and Egypt marked in effect the abandonment of the Palestinians by Egypt, which opted for its own self-interest over its pan-Arab commitment to the Palestinian cause. As a result, Egypt was expelled for 10 years from the Arab League. Israel appreciated Egypt’s go-it-alone approach and has acted on it ever since.

The Camp David accords of 1979, marked a major shift in political orientation of both Egypt and Israel. Until at least until the mid-1970’s, Egypt had been a client of the Soviet Union, and Israel, although closer to the U.S. than to the Soviet Union, was somewhat held at arm’s length by the United States. Following the Arab-Israeli war of 1973, which Israel survived thanks to a massive arms lift from the U.S., Egypt was resupplied by the Soviet Union, and Israel worried that it would again face an Egyptian onslaught. But Sadat’s recognition that Egypt could not develop without reducing the crushing burden of arms expenditures led him to seek peace with Israel. The 1979 Camp David accords made both Egypt and Israel recipients of large annual cash and arms transfers from the U.S. in exchange for their willingness to make peace with each other. Over time, Egypt’s army came to rely on U.S. arms and, to an extent on U.S. military training. Israel, too relied on U.S. arms and developed its own arms industry, at times in partnership with the U.S. The U.S. may have believed that its money and arms gave it leverage over both of its client states, but it has not always worked out this way.

One instance in which it did was the 1990 Gulf War to drive Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi Army out of Kuwait. In that war, U.S. President Bush sought to assemble a coalition of states, including Arab states, to drive out the Iraqis. Egypt signed on and provided a sizeable contingent. Israel was scheduled to be on the receiving end of Scud missiles that Saddam threatened to rain down on Israeli cities. The U.S. desperately wanted to prevent the Israelis from retaliating, as this would have driven away the support of the Arab armies allying with the U.S. effort. So the U.S. promised to give priority to attacking the Iraqi missile sites targeting Israel and to provide Israel with U.S. Patriot missiles to shoot down incoming Scuds. While there was little damage done to Israel, following the war Israel felt that the U.S. “owed it” and asked for ever larger shipments of weapons, which was forthcoming. Egypt too, as a result of its participation, earned the good graces of the U.S. Was the commitment to “buy peace” open ended, and how much influence did the money buy?

The answer is that nations pursue what they perceive as their own national interests. When this means biting the hand that feeds them, well – so be it.
Even before 1994 when Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat signed the so-called Oslo Agreement to end hostilities, the government of Israel has pursued a policy of supporting Israeli settlers to create new settlements and expand existing ones in what it calls Judea and Samaria and the Palestinians call the territory that they hope will be their future state. While the U.S. has criticized this policy, Israel has continued it almost unabated, repeatedly thumbing its nose at the U.S. Moreover, when the U.S. was preparing to sign a deal with Iran to reduce its ability to produce and deploy a nuclear weapon, a proposal the U.S viewed as enhancing Israel’s security but with which Netanyahu disagreed, Netanyahu came to the U.S. in 2015 and vehemently criticized the deal before the U.S. Congress. Egypt has protested Israel’s policies in the West Bank, albeit without threatening to break diplomatic relations with Israel or taking any steps to put military or economic pressure on Israel, not that it has much ability to do so any longer.

The Egyptian Tahrir Square uprising in 2011, which saw the overthrow of Egyptian President Mubarak by a combination of liberals, modernizers, and Islamists, ushered in a period of turmoil in Egypt and watchful waiting in Israel. The fact that the United States did not support its old ally, Mubarak, was viewed with loathing in Saudi Arabia, an ally of both. It may have shaken Israel, too – especially with the subsequent election of Mohammed Morsi, an Islamist and supporter of Hamas. Relations between Israel and Egypt worsened, as Egyptians began to question whether to break off diplomatic relations and reduce economic ties. Open anti-semitism began to rear its head in Egypt, and Hamas, which had been shunned by Mubarak, began to hope that a Morsi government would help it economically and even, perhaps militarily.
But Morsi did not have the support of the Egyptian army or the bureaucracy, which had been appointed by Mubarak, and stymied him at every opportunity. Before long, the army overthrew Morsi and began a crackdown on his supporters, jailing thousands. Meanwhile Israel watched and cheered from the sidelines.

With a new government in power, cooperation blossomed once again, with Egypt and Israel sharing intelligence on ISIS and other radical groups operating in Sinai and sealing tunnels from Egypt into Gaza. Hamas was once again in a vise, with Egypt pressing from one side, Israel from the others.

Egypt’s economy, meanwhile, tanked. Its dependence on revenues from tourism and the Suez Canal both took a hit, as terrorist incidents and reduced oil shipments combined in a perfect storm to force it to go begging to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, which propped it up with over $40B. Because the value of U.S. development aid and arms shipments amount to only about $2B per year, Egypt could afford to not pay nearly so much attention to the wishes of the U.S. as it had in the past. Ironically, Saudi Arabia’s generosity to Egypt has not won it much leverage in Egypt either, as Egypt’s President Sisi has taken the aid and in remarks released over WikiLeaks was heard to say that the Saudis were suckers and should be hit up for even more. As for Israel, in September it secured a 10-year $38B commitment from the U.S. to supply it with military hardware to preserve its military edge over presumed enemies. Since the conclusion of the agreement, Israel has announced plans for further settlement construction and has already broken ground.

Finally, currently, Egypt and Israel are both becoming less tolerant societies, with increasing restrictions on the press and civic society groups in both countries. Both Netanyahu and el-Sisi, the President of Egypt, have resisted calls to rein in their more hard line supporters. Egypt has required a wide array of civil society groups to forswear foreign funding and has curtailed their activities. Activists have been jailed, tortured, and silenced. Israel is making it more difficult for its domestic critics to monitor government actions in the occupied territories and to publicize such things as housing demolitions and water seizures. A prominent Israeli newspaper owned by U.S. casino magnate, Sheldon Adelson, is virtually a mouthpiece for the Netanyahu government and not only promotes its policies but editorializes against its critics.

In conclusion, Egypt and Israel are both states whose image and reality have changed greatly over 68 years. Egypt is not the colossus of the Arab world, dominating its discourse. It is an ailing, dependent. Israel is no longer David, but rather a powerful embattled Sparta, in a hostile environment which is viewed as lording it over Palestinians. Egypt has gone from being the chief threat to Israel’s existence to becoming its ally against Radical Islamists in the Sinai and Hamas in Gaza.

While Egypt’s political landscape was dominated by a single party with a few rulers, Israel had to deal with a multi-party system with many heads of state who have had to form fragile coalitions and effectuate compromises in order to govern. Both countries lost leaders who were advocates for peace to assassins who viewed these leaders as traitors willing to threaten ideological purity: a Palestine without an Israel or an Israel without a Palestine. Over the years, it became clear that neither Egypt nor Israel wanted a Palestinian state or was willing to make the sacrifices necessary to bring one into existence. While the 1979 Camp David accords effectively made Israel and Egypt client states of the United States, with the passage of time, the leverage that the U.S. had over each has declined, so that today neither one dances to the U.S. tune. The 2011 Arab Spring uprising in Egypt and the 2013 overthrow of the Islamist Government of Mohammed Morsi has led to enhanced security cooperation between Israel and Egypt against Islamists in Sinai and against Hamas in Gaza. Finally, Both Israel and Egypt are becoming less tolerant societies in terms of their willingness to brook opposition and dissent.

Martin Charwat
Nov. 10, 2016
Vassar Temple

Torah Study Notes 11-5-16

November 5, 2016
Page 59- The story of Noah. In terms of authorship it appears to be a splicing together of J and P. You could lift the P part out and the remainder would make sense. There are two merged stories. The flood narrative is first which is common in early cultures – either there was an early flood or a prevalent notion that God saw man as evil and wanted to start over. In this the people were bad but in Gilgamesh the people were too loud and getting on the nerves of the gods. See A Wrinkle in Time – Many Waters where the brothers go back in time to the flood. LL In ancient Greek culture there was no sharp division between good and evil – which may account for the absence of a flood myth in that culture. The multiple Greek gods had human characteristics and human weaknesses such as lust and envy.
6:9 Noah was a righteous man… what does this mean in the sense that there is no Torah yet? RB: There is a suggestion of a preexisting set of laws or moral codes that formed a baseline for human behavior. See: 9:1 on page 63 which recites basic laws sometimes known as The “Noahide Laws”
See also Ch 2:16.
The seven Noahide laws as traditionally enumerated are:[7]
1. Do not deny God.
2. Do not blaspheme God.
3. Do not murder.
4. Do not engage in illicit sexual relations.
5. Do not steal.
6. Do not eat from a live animal.
7. Establish courts/legal system to ensure obedience to the law.
According to the Talmud,[7] the rabbis agree that the seven laws were given to the sons of Noah. However, they disagree on precisely which laws were given to Adam and Eve. Six of the seven laws are exegetically derived from passages in Genesis,[8] with the seventh being the establishing of courts.

The orthodox argue that these seven laws apply even if you are not part of the covenant. Question as to where the comma is in the first sentence. Was he singularly a righteous man or a righteous man only in his generation. See handout – What does it mean to be “blameless in his age.” Is he righteous only in comparison to the wicked people around him? “In a more respectable age perhaps he would have been no better than average.” What makes him righteous? He listens to God and thereafter he saves the animals. The concept of not bending to peer pressure is important for children and in a sense, the history of the Jews, is one of knowing the right path. See Subversive Sequels in the bible by Judy Kushner. LL Consider The Sixth Extinction. See rabbinical commentary distributed by RB:

Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 108a: These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generations (Bereshit 6:9, JPS translates as “blameless in his age”). R. Johanan said: In his generations, but not in other generations. Resh Lakish maintained: [Even] in his generations…how much more so in other generations. R. Hanina said: As an illustration of R. Johanan’s view, to what may this be compared? To a barrel of wine lying in a vault of acid: in its place, its odor is fragrant [by comparison with the acid]; elsewhere, its odor will not be fragrant. R. Oshaia said: As an illustration of Resh Lakish’s view, to what may this be compared? To a vial of spikenard oil lying amidst refuse: [if] it is fragrant where it is, how much more so amidst spices!

Etz Chayim p. 41: “Yohanan sees Noah as righteous only relatively, in contrast to the wicked people around him. In a more respectable age, he would have been no better than average. Resh Lakish, on the other hand, says that anyone who had the moral backbone to be a good person in an immoral society would have been an even better person in a generation that encouraged goodness. One emphasizes the power of society to shape the behavior of its members; the other champions the power of the individual to withstand the pressures of society…. In the face of universal corruption, he maintained civilized standards of behavior.”

6:11 An ark of gopher wood… construction is described in detail. Take seven pairs of every pure beast but only one pair of the impure.
7:6 Noah was six hundred years old…after seven days the flood waters covered the earth and after forty days… the water subsided. Note the poetic parallelism here. The floodgates opening is a symbol of chaos and is sometime considered a feminine opposite to God. Is this a continuation of creation? “And God remembered Noah” – also God remembered Rachel or God remembered the Israelites when they were in Egypt. “Remember” here could mean to focus or acting so as to interfere in human affairs. Also, God did not forget Noah. See Noah movie: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, an orthodox Jewish rabbi leader, hailed Noah as “a valuable film, especially for our times.”[79] In order to create “a story that tries to explicate Noah’s relationship with God and God’s relationship with the world as it has become”, director of the film Darren Aronofsky himself stated that he was working in “the tradition of Jewish Midrash”.[80]