Interview Method of Dv'ar Torah Preparation with a Student B Mitzvah! The Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah (R)evolution continues

Interview of Bar Mitzvah student as a Torah study process. Note: With an exceptionally anxious student this can be a helpful way to actually give a scripted Torah teaching on the day of Bar/Bat Mitzvah, both of you up there doing this dialogue together.

Rabbi: What did you learn in this portion that surprised you?

Kevin:  First, Noah didn't even challenge God's decision to destroy civilization.

  I really don't respect Noah at all for that. Second, I learned that there are two versions of the story going on in the text.  In one animals go into the ark in pairs, in another some go in by sevens. Also, I learned that God, at least in the Torah, thinks humans are all evil.

Rabbi: Does God know this from the very beginning of the story?

Kevin: No, God thought Noah and his wife, Isabel, were different.

Rabbi:  Isabel?

Kevin:  The Torah doesn't give her a name, so I did!

Rabbi: That's great! Our sages made up a name for her too, in Midrash (stories that comment on Torah portions), they called her Naamah [Genesis Rabbah 22:4]

Kevin: I like Isabel better.

Rabbi:  OK, then she'll be Isabel during our process. So, why did God decide to destroy civilization and so much of creation?

Kevin: Remember you taught me the word hamas? It's in the beginning of this story, meaning "completely destructive violence".  God looked at the world and saw devastation done by humans everywhere.

Rabbi:  Wasn't it violent of God to destroy the world?

Kevin: Yes. That's a point.

Rabbi: If we're designed in the image of God, then why were we being punished for similar behavior?

Kevin: God didn't realize humans limitations at that time.

Rabbi: Is there any hope for us?

Kevin: Yes! Because God realizes it was wrong to destroy creation and God puts a rainbow in the sky to symbolize a commitment to never act that way again.

Rabbi: I think of the rainbow as a metaphor for God's light shining through God's tears.


Kevin: Like a prism! Rabbi, of we are truly in the image of God, then we can we both learn to cease being violent?

Rabbi: Why do you say God is violent?

Kevin: My grandpa died in pain from cancer, I was so sad. The floods in Japan last week killed people. And this week, a crazy person killed so many people who just wanted to enjoy a Batman movie. God made creation with violence and flaws; people can go totally haywire! Since God flows through creation and us, and things evolve, I hope whatever God is evolves too.

Rabbi: That makes for the elements a good prayer. How might you turn what you just said into a personal prayer?

Kevin: I pray for everything in creation to evolve toward less violence....But Rabbi, that's a ridiculous prayer. I can't affect creation!

Rabbi: Are you sure?

Kevin: Well, my cousin is working on nanoparticles that can change genetic information. That's a point.

Rabbi: And?

Kevin: My brother is working to prevent the open sale of firearms.

Rabbi: Another point. So, how could you pray differently on this topic, so you feel your prayer is deeply possible?

Kevin: May each of us find a way to help prevent violence. May we be blessed with the courage and creativity to be very effective at stopping violence. God, do you know one simple reason why, even though I could list a lot more? God, I don't think kids should have to be afraid they'll be killed going to the movies in America, or in their beds in Syria like I heard on the radio!

Rabbi: Amen!