An Early Rabbinic Critique of Noah

While the biblical writers love depicting how its spiritual leaders confront God in the face of danger, it is only in the midrashic literature we discover how each biblical protagonist stacks up against one another.  Early post-biblical writers like Philo of Alexandria and the early rabbis felt ambivalent about Noah’s piety—especially when contrasted to Abraham’s religious devotion.  “These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God” (Gen. 6:9).

Rabbinic ...

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Jewish survival must depend upon something more than vague sentimentalism

While many Jews live a nostalgically religious life, at least an equally large number have become ambivalent about their religious heritage. Consequently, a substantial number of Jewish young people have left their religious roots and have gone to other faiths, while over two million Jews no longer identify— even superficially—as Jews.

Appealing to ethnicity and “Tradition” (whatever that means) and “Jewish survival” fall short of the mark. “Survive for what?” No, the cardiac or gastronomical experience is not going to cut ...

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