I just finished an “airport book”, the kind of genre one can finish flying from here to Denver. The plot concerns manipulating weather to make millions on construction stocks. Envision hurricanes wrecking (pick one) Houston, Florida, Puerto Rico; fierce winds causing fires in (pick one) California, Colorado, Alaska; tidal surges flooding (pick one!) Charleston, New Orleans, New York City. Obviously by the conclusion the good guys have vanquished the bad guys, and all is well with the world once more.
Aside from serious amounts of sugar for the brain, these books give us a welcome break from real news. Consider them Oreo balls for the news-afflicted and addicted. Since this summer we have collectively experienced hurricanes damaging Houston, Florida, and large swaths of the Caribbean including our Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. There are wildfires in numerous areas of California. Plus, liturgy and Torah smack us with reality at this time of year. On October 12 we began to pray for rain and wind again in the G’vurot, and the evening of October 14 began Parsha Noach.
Noach is about our destructive behavior, both toward each other and this floating paradise we call home. We like to teach the children about saving the animals, and bless the pets, and sing fun songs, but it’s a very serious story. A cartoon in the paper this morning has God speaking to Noach, telling him that at least he doesn’t have to collect two of every fish. Noach’s response is “Wait. What?” He finally has to recognize the real reason he is building the Ark.
There is no secret bad guy controlling the world’s weather. We do not have an Ark big enough to fit the needy, nor is there a place to escape to. This is our only home, and escapist novels are just a mental band aid.