Noah, the portion of this week, (Genesis 6ff) speaks to so many issues. He was a man blameless in his generation. That line alone has been the cause of much comment, for, the population of the earth was in need of destruction, which meant, to some, that Noah was the best of a bad bunch. Faint praise!
The issue, however, which struck me for this week has to do with hope. I write this little drash while attending the annual Summit meeting of C-TAC, the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care. (www.thectac.org) It has been 3 days of intense conversations with medical and health care professionals as well as several dozen clergy. The focus has been on how to make the health care system more responsive to people in the last years of life. There has been a wide variety of presentations, from technical to the spiritual. One of the themes that has been constant has been that of hope. This is not hope in miraculous interventions (although that was mentioned), rather it was the constant relevancy of hope in the fact of serious illness. This was hope for treatment that is humane and hope that people will be seen as dignified human beings deserving of compassion and care, even as life ebbs.
How appropriate to speak of this ideal of hope on Parsaha Noah, for the outstanding symbol from this section of hope in a future is the keshet, the rainbow. All of us hope for a dignified end of life. All of us hope that, even in serious illness, we will be able to receive compassionate treatment, kindness and love. This wish, I think, becomes more real as we get older and maybe experience scenarios with friends and family that stretch this ideal. Yet, that hope remains and it is a lesson from Parasha Noah that I hope we can hold in all of our hearts and souls.
Rabbi Richard F Address