Nokhn mabl

[After the Flood]


Setting: Noah’s Ark. Various animals walk around in conversation with one another. The Wolf apologizes to the Sheep for having been so bloodthirsty. The Sheep accepts, saying it always thought that behavior was driven by hunger rather than malice. The Wolf replies that that’s no excuse, and there’s no reason to eat meat with so many tasty grasses and plants around. The Wolf vows that once the ark lands, it will have its teeth pulled out and its nails trimmed “down to the skin.”

The Sparrowhawk then tells the Dove how much it enjoys their conversations, and that it prefers the Dove’s cooking to eating birds. When the Dove says it’s still scared by the Sparrowhawk’s beak, the latter replies that it will soak its beak in salt water until it’s as soft as a cooked carrot. The two birds agree to leave their spouses for one another--and after all, the Dove hasn’t come back to the ark, several days after Noah sent him out.

Next come the Spider and the Fly. The Spider no longer wishes to catch flies in its webs, but since it can’t stop spinning, it will spin webs for women’s faces, in which it will catch men’s glances that threaten female modesty.

The Snake and the Woman compliment each other floridly. She asks him to bring him an apple, not from the Tree of Knowledge, but from the Tree of Life, so she can live forever. The Snake asks what the point would be, since her beauty would fade eventually, but the Woman says she wants both to live and to be beautiful forever.

Noah then calls his family and all the animals together, and asks whether anyone has any complaints against him. They all express feelings to the contrary; after all, he saved them. In that case, he says, they can all part amicably; since the Dove hasn’t returned, all are free to leave the ark. When they ask what they should do about finding food, Noah replies that even though he sorted out their meals on the ark, they are now on their own. The animals accuse him of hoarding food and threaten to eat him and his family, prompting his sons and daughters-in-law to distance them from him. Noah says the animals can eat him, but that his skinny body is unlikely to satisfy them, and they have to share him equally with one another. They then give up and start leaving the ark, with the pairs we saw at the beginning already starting to argue with one another.

After the ark empties, a bloodied Sheep, followed by a bloodied Dove, return and ask for Noah’s help. Noah opens the door, only to be met by more blood, and asks God why He flooded the world only for violence to continue. Noah’s sons and daughters-in-law approach him, and ask not to be kicked off the ark. He reminds them that when he started building it, they wanted nothing to do with it, and said he was crazy. Then, when he was about to sail, they begged him to take them in, and the women brought along belongings like furniture, mirrors, and bathtubs, which he suggested they may have stolen from their neighbors’ houses. They demand the keys to Noah’s shop, but he says there’s nothing in it, and that contrary to their suggestions, he didn’t manage to smuggle out any valuables before the flood hit.

Noah recalls horrible scenes from when the ark started to sail, and people outside were begging to be let in. Noah was anguished by the suffering, particularly of children, but when he tried to bring some on board, the others in the ark stopped him, saying, “You want to disobey God’s command?” Noah remarks, “That was the first time I heard you mention God’s name.”

Shem’s Wife tells Shem that since his father is poor, she’s leaving him; the only reason she stuck around was to get his father’s inheritance. He doesn’t particularly mind, and says he will build a tower to take him to God, from whom he plans to demand an accounting for all the destruction. The two leave together. Japheth urges his wife to leave the ark with him, saying they’ll rebuild, gather food and fresh water, and wear fig leaves rather than clothes, since it is now a new Genesis. They exit.

Noah then turns to Ham, who says he wants to stay and look after his father. This surprises Noah, since it’s so out of character, but Ham says he has learned lessons from the flood, and is now “good and pious.” Noah thanks God, and gets out food for a celebration. Ham says they need liquor too, and though Noah says he shouldn’t, he joins Ham for glass after glass of wine. Ham then asks Noah what he’ll do for a living, and Noah replies that he’d like to work as a sexton in a synagogue. Ham has a more lucrative suggestion: turn the ark into a museum commemorating the flood. One one side of the ark will be the exhibit; the other will be a bar that can be rented out for weddings. He goes to the door to promote to the public a detailed vision of the museum, including photographs of the dead. “Come and see these pictures, which will make you shudder, make your blood run cold! Among the dead you’ll find your neighbors and friends!”

The other brothers and their wives return, having heard about the commotion. The wives scold their husbands for being so impractical, unlike their enterprising brother. But they refuse to let Ham put Noah on display and charge admission, so he tells them he’ll hire the actor Purimson to play his father. When he announced that he’s selling tickets for the next day, he’s surrounded on all sides by customers.