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Rabbi's Blog

rabbi 05 smallsf badge lgRabbi Joel Landau  ( has been the Rabbi of Adath Israel since May 2013. He was ordained by the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem and has served previously as a congregational Rabbi in Charleston, South Carolina and Irvine, California. A full biography of Rabbi Landau is available here.

Last week Paramount Pictures released a new biblical blockbuster “Noah." From what I’ve heard and read so far, it sounds like an interesting film. If you are planning to see it (or have already), I’d like to share with you some thoughts I received from a colleague in Israel.

Dear Chevre,
I recently saw Noah and I liked it. Perhaps I did so because I approached it in two steps.
1. I told myself before watching it that there is no connection between the movie and what it says in the Torah.
2. Now that I saw the movie, what can I take from it to help me understand the Torah and some of the Midrashim better? 

The movie raises many questions which I can use to consider the story of Noach, whether or not I like the movie's answers:
a. How did the descendants of Shet (Adam’s third son) associate with the descendants of Kayin (Adam’s first son)?
b. Who helped Noach build the Ark?
c. Were the people of the time antagonistic to Noach?
d. If yes, why? (What did they care that some madman was building a giant boat?)
e. If yes, did they try to do something to him?
f. Who or how was Noach protected from the masses?
g. Who were the Nefilim?
h. What relationship did Noach have with his family?
i. How did Noach see himself vis-a-vis the people of the time?
j. How does having Hashem speak to you impact a person?
k. How were the animals cared for in the Ark?
l. Might there have been stowaways on the Ark? (The Midrash speaks of Og, and some commentaries says that Noach took members of his household staff along with him in addition to his family.)
m. What was it like in the Ark while so many outside were dying?
n. Why did Noach get drunk after the flood?
o. Can a Prophet err in his interpretation of the prophecy he received from Hashem?

Again, for me it did not matter whether I liked the answers provided by the director and the scriptwriter - although some of them were quite profound. The visual imagery helped me see these questions in a new light and allowed me to understand some of the answers the Midrash gave better.  Here’s a link to a really insightful review of the movie.