This is one of those blogs that was inspired by something I read. This past week I received in the mail the two volume set commentary on the book of Proverbs I had ordered. It is from the Artscroll Tanach Series, I have been wanting this set for over a year, so I felt it was time, and of course it is amazing.
If any of you have studied very many Jewish books then you will marvel as I do at the wealth of information found within the Introduction alone. This is the case with these commentaries. Not far in the Introduction something written there started the gears going in my mind. Below is the product from from my reading and my pondering of the subject.
The starting point on this one was fun, I had several ways I wanted to run with. So here goes, I think it is in the order it needed to be.
To begin with are the inspired thoughts I had from the reading and then the quote from the first volume of the commentary of Mishei/Proverbs.
When we look at two major events in the book of Genesis we find God repeating a process; and that is giving man a blank canvas to work with.
With Adam, God creates him and puts him in a Garden and then watches what he does with it. Everything on the earth is fresh, even the man; now it is time to see what the man creates. And then there is Noah; when he exits the Ark and finds the earth in its post flood condition – again God gives the man Noah and his sons a blank canvas to create a new world.
Metaphorically, Noah was given a new paint set, his painter’s palette has seven colors representing seven instructions that he would start over painting the picture of humanity.
Ramban explains that the physical world is like raw material in the hands of people. God presents us with a universe that is indeed “very good”, and it is up to us to use it wisely, to perfect ourselves and our surroundings in accordance with His will, as expressed in His Torah and expounded by His wise counselors. When Noah’s generation corrupted itself and even the very earth through moral perversions and selfishness, it was not the Creation that God pronounced to be a failure; rather God reconsidered having made man on the earth, and He had heartfelt sadness (Genesis 6:6). It was not the earth – the raw material – that would be destroyed, but the artisan who abused it. (Based on Ramban’s ‘Derashah on Kolelet)
Within this quote from the Ramban we find our human mission,
“The physical world is like raw material in the hands of people. God presents us with a universe that is indeed “very good”, and it is up to us to use it wisely, to perfect ourselves and our surroundings in accordance with His will”
Noah was given seven instructions to start the world over with, it was on his painting palette. He along with them also had in his memory of what the world was before the flood, the human abandonment of the six instructions from Adam, and what that caused.
Noahides, this is our mission, “to perfect ourselves and our surroundings” – when we perfect ourselves and observe the will of God within the seven Instructions, we bring perfection into our families, community and world.
When we leave the religions of this world and cling unto the One God of Israel – our Creator, He gives each of us a blank canvas – we become the artisans of this world. We need to be careful and not abuse what the Creator gives us to work with; understand we have the same paint palette Noah was given, let us now go and paint our world.
It was not the earth – the raw material – that would be destroyed, but the artisan who abused it.
Terry W. Hayes
Photo Credit: Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash