How did Noah get kangaroos for the ark?  If you haven’t heard this question you have heard some question like it.  The logic goes as follows:

  1. The Bible says that Noah took two of every animal onto the ark.
  2. The Ark was in Mesopotamia.
  3. The Kangaroos were in Australia.
  4. There is no bridge from Mesopotamia to Australia.
  5. Ergo the Kangaroos could not have gotten to the ark.
  6. Ergo, the entire Bible is nonsense.  QED.

Of course any second grader could demolish this logic.  Its second grade when kids start to realize that the continents look like pieces of a puzzle, and then their teachers teach them about Pangaea, the super continent, when all of the world’s land mass was connected.
So the flood took place before the continents split, the kangaroos hopped across India to Mesopotamia, and onto the ark.  Problem Solved, Shabbat shalom everyone!

Seriously though, there are many answers to this question for another time, but as to the question of the veracity of the flood, the Bible is not the only account.

For instance, the Epic of Gilgamesh includes a very similar story.  In the case of Gilgamesh, the gods decided to destroy the world by flood.  One man became privy to the plan so he built a large boat, gathered his family and animals, and survived the flood while the rest of the world perished.

The details of the flood story of Gilgamesh differ from the Torah, as do lessons learned from the story differ, but the document is one of many independent accounts of what must have been a real event that made a great impression on the succeeding generations until today.

You would think that the archaeological discovery of the ancient clay tablets containing a supporting account of a major Biblical event would give at least a moment of pause to the self proclaimed scientifically minded atheists.  You would think.  But they are not bothered.

Because the Bible is nonsense.  Science has spoken!

But what is this “Science” that they speak of?

Is it the same “Science” referenced by the New York Times in a recent article that questions whether the Jewish Temple really stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem?  Do they mean that “Science?”

Because that “Science” is ridiculous!  Let us ignore for a minute the countless documents testifying to the Temple’s existence.  Let us ignore the copious archaeological evidence that has been discovered.  Let us ignore that fact that the Muslims themselves have, in the past, testified to its existence, and built their Mosque there because it was the place where the Temple once stood.  Let’s ignore all of that for a minute.

Did you happen to notice the big wall called the Kotel?  The Kotel was not discovered in modern times by archaeologists like Pompeii.  The Kotel was never buried!  It stood forever as a testament to the Temple, with an unbroken tradition that was acknowledged by all.

To be clear.  When it comes to the veracity of the episodes of the Bible, from Noach to the forefathers, to the Exodus, to the Temple, the status quo has always been, and continues to be with the Bible.  These are unbroken traditions of events that have been known for thousands of years. Those theorists who want to question the veracity of these well known events are entitled to their theories, but recognize that these are not “Scientific” theories.  These are conspiracy theories, no different than suggesting that the moon landing never happened.

After close examination, the so called “Scientific” evidence is spurious.

Most of the time, the so called “Scientific” evidence is the absence of evidence, which is completely unscientific.

You say you haven’t found evidence in Egypt that there was an Exodus?  Well keep digging!  Because we know that it happened.  You probably won’t find any evidence in Egypt that the Six Day War happened either.  That is not because it never happened, but because Egyptian tyrants, then and now, are not too keen about documenting their humiliating defeats to the Jewish people.  But the absence of proof is never proof.

The question is,why should we care if they try to deny our ancient history?

Do not be fooled into believing that those who try to undermine the Bible are doing so in the name of “Science.”  They are completely politically motivated.  They seek to undermine the Bible because by doing so they undermine the Jewish claim to the land of Israel.

An Israeli academic recently wrote a book called “The invention of the Jewish People.”  The book is a reboot of an old discredited conspiracy theory that claims the whole Jewish people is a scam, and we are really the descendants of some Southwestern Asian people who made up the whole story in the 9th century.  The book was panned by academics as a sloppy fraud.  But that’s not important.  It was a big hit in antisemitic Europe, translated into more languages than any Israeli history book ever written.  It won awards and sold millions of copies.  Do you think it is because Europeans are suddenly fascinated with Jewish history?

It doesn’t end with ancient history.  Modern history is also under assault.  The Jews, who have an unbroken presence in Israel are portrayed as European colonists who first stepped foot in the land seventy years ago.  Meanwhile, the “Palestinian” people have a long and illustrious history going back to ancient times.

And the assault on truth continuous to this very moment.  Just this past week there was an accusation that Israeli police had shot and killed an Arab boy in cold blood.
The truth was that the Arab boy had just stabbed an innocent Israeli boy.  Israeli police were forced to shoot the attacker as he charged at them with his weapon.  The boy was saved by Israeli doctors and there are pictures of him recovering in an Israeli hospital.

The problem is, in the information age we are actually less informed.  The ability to saturate the Internet with so much information and competing narratives makes it more and more difficult for truth to rise above the chatter.  The most fringe conspiracy theory is now given the same authority as a reputable encyclopedia.  Only lies profit in this environment.

And if hard facts can be so easily obfuscated, think about how much easier is it to obfuscate and pervert morality.

When I was young it was clear who were the good guys and who were the bad guys.  Israel was good.  Those who wished to destroy Israel were bad.  In this regard not much has changed.  It is clear to anyone with eyes and a brain.

Israelis want peace.  Israel’s enemies want Jewish blood.  Not as a means towards some lofty ends, like liberation.  They could have had their state fifty times over by now if that was their goal.  The killing of Jews is not a means.  It is their objective, their ends.  Their goal is dead Jews.

But somehow people don’t see that.  The lies are so prevalent, and people who view themselves as objective third parties don’t know what to believe.

Israel advocacy has always been a tug of war, with each side pulling as hard as they can to advocate their own narrative.

But I feel that now the battle lines have shifted.  While we are still struggling to convince those people whoa re undecided on the issue, today we are also struggling to convince ourselves.

And when I say “ourselves” please don’t misunderstand.  I don’t mean the Jews who are part of the problem and advocate for the false narrative.  Those Jewish groups that have already joined the ranks of the anti Israel groups.

I am talking about you and me.  We are struggling to convince ourselves that our story is true.

In George Orwell’s classic, 1984, the propagandist Winston Smith works for the evil regime’s propaganda arm, deceptively named The Ministry of Truth.  His job is to destroy old newspapers, books, and periodicals that say or imply anything negative about the regime, and then rewrite them with a new history that puts the regime in a favorable light.  Throughout the book he tells us that even though he is the one creating the lies, the lies are so ubiquitous that even he has a hard time discerning fact from fiction.

I confess, there are times that even I start to think, maybe there is truth to the other side.  Like everyone, I want to be a fair minded person.  Like everyone, I think of myself as a moderate.  Only an extremist thinks that he is completely right.  There are two sides to every story.  Surely Israel can’t be totally right.

I submit to you, that thinking is brought on by intimidation from the other side.  It is a deceptive tactic introduced by people that wants us to doubt the truth of our cause and the justice of our cause.

There is nothing to be ashamed of to say that this is not a complicated issue.  This is black and white. Israel wants peace, Israel’s enemies want blood.  Our Torah is true, and our claim to the land of Israel is indisputable.  The Palestinian narrative is a manufactured lie.

I refuse to be intimidated or shamed into questioning the justice of our cause or the truth of our cause. No amount of calumny or name calling will make me accept the false history of the Arab narrative that i know to be a lie.  This does not make me an extremist, stupid, uninformed, anti–scientific, or mean.  I have observed the situation with my own eyes and decided with my own mind.

We need to remind ourselves of this constantly.  More so, we need to remind our children and grandchildren.

The best way is to strengthen our commitment to Torah.  The Torah is our unbroken tradition.  The events of the Torah are true, but more importantly, the morality of the Torah is true.  When we follow the Torah we need never fear our enemies.  The truth is on our side, and so long as we stand strong, with Hashem’s help we will defeat our enemies.

May it be Hashem’s will.  God bless Israel.  Am Yisrael Chai.

Parshat Noach 5776