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recessive or dominant?

10/07/2021 10:17:07 AM


Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

The initial stories of humanity in the book of Genesis are not very encouraging. God creates humanity and gives them free rein and reign over all in the Garden of Eden. They are given an easy set of instructions: You may eat of anything except for the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Seems rather simple. Yet what they do is disobey, failing God’s test. Eve could have refused the snake, and said no. Adam could have said no to Eve and thrown the fruit away. All of us know what happens to them, but the downward trajectory has just begun. Cain commits the world’s first murder, and his own brother Abel is the victim. Bad enough, right? Fast forward ten generations, and God is so fed up with the prevalence of evil in the world that God decides to wash it all away, reboot the planet, seeding it with two of every species under the watchful command of Captain Noah, whom God deems the best person alive.

Sometimes a fresh start is a good idea, so we trust God’s instincts. Then we read at the conclusion of the Noah story, which is this week’s Torah portion, that humanity builds a tower to make a name for themselves. God mixes up their languages and they scatter. And they pack their evil with them in their luggage and bring it along.

I wonder if at both ends of the Milky Way Galaxy there are space buoys, positioned by other beings, warning all travelers to avoid our galaxy, specifically the planet that we call Earth. In most of our science fiction movies and literature, we either depict those not from earth as malevolent, bent on our destruction, or the subjects of our capture and experimentation in Area 54 in Roswell. What must others think of the trajectory of history of humanity? What are the things that stand out?

We would hope that the incredible gifts that humans have shared in the arts and literature represent what we are capable of becoming, yet despite their potential to be eternal examples of the highest levels of achievement, do the scales balance? Do all of the wars, violence between peoples of the same nation, bigotry, racism, prejudice and antisemitism outweigh all of the good? What is it about our species that so many lack the ability to live peacefully with not only their neighbors, but all of humanity? Is this not a recessive trait, but the dominant gene?

God thinks so, for God states after the flood, “Never again will I doom the earth because of man, since the devisings of man’s mind are evil from his youth.” God does not admit to a flawed design. Rather, God recognizes that the flood changed nothing. Only we can be the agents of change if we want to be, and by change I mean change in a positive direction. Thus we are left pondering God’s statement, and must sincerely ask ourselves: “Is God talking about me?” If not, what am I doing to show the world that God is wrong about me? Our future depends upon everyone’s answer. What is yours?

Sun, May 22 2022 21 Iyyar 5782