Yes, the name of this blog post is partially inspired by the lyric from the hit Broadway show “Dear Evan Hansen” (yes, I loved the show. yes, I saw it in NYC. no, I haven’t seen the movie).
So, I read a piece on the JTS website this week about this week’s parsha (well, the one we read today, which is Noah). Technically, since you’re reading this Saturday night, it’s already the next week’s parsha, but I’m writing this piece on Friday afternoon so it still feels like I’m allowed to write about it now ;). The piece I read was written by Rabbi Abby Treu in 2012…and yet I still found it relevant and inspiring, so I’m going to share a paraphrase of her ideas with you. So, Noah built an ark to allow for Gd’s great do-over. And there are pretty elaborate instructions about how the ark was built- it would make IKEA proud. So, the rains come, and Noah and his family and the animals are all aboard. Then we come to a sentence that seems kind of ordinary: “Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made.” Ho hum, right? Except that nowhere in the details of the building of the ark did Noah mention building a window. In the building instructions, it does mention something called a tzohar that Noah included in the construction. The word “tzohar” does not appear again anywhere in the entire Tanach. Some translations use the word window, some use skylight, and some translate it as some kind of glowing orb (of course, that’s the translation I like the best #harrypotter). But here, Noah opens a chalon, which is the correct word for window.
Rashi suggested that the chalon (window) and the tzohar (skylight/window/orb) are the same thing. In Rabbi Treu’s piece, she suggests that perhaps Noah built an actual window during the rainstorm when Noah realized he might want or need one. Yet she includes a fascinating idea that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind. Rabbi Treu suggests, in the name of Rabbi Shuli Passow, that the chalon/window was a figment of Noah’s imagination. Let’s put ourselves in Noah’s shoes for a moment. He is shut up on a boat in turbulent waters, in the most unknown and scary of circumstances. And he’s there for a very long time. What can he do to allow himself to hope? To imagine a different reality other than the one he’s stuck in? He has to imagine for himself a window. He’s got to believe there’s something on the other side, something to dream about for the future of humanity. I just love that. What are those windows we can draw for ourselves? Not just in a Harold & the Purple Crayon kind of way. But a theoretical window out of which we can dream. What are your windows? And what can you see on the other side?