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Sunday, October 22, 2017 2 Cheshvan 5778





LIVING WITH
THE TIMES

The first Lubavitch/Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, author of the Tanya and Code of Jewish Law, once remarked that a Jew must "live with the times." His son explained the meaning: A Jew must live with the Torah portion of the week - i.e., he must assimilate the lessons of the weekly Torah portion
B"H
 
 
 The Flood
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
After the Torah relates how the world was almost completely wiped out by the Flood, it states: "And only Noah remained." The word "only" seems superfluous, as by then we already know the fate of the rest of civilization. Rashi, however, explains that the use of the word "only" connotes that something was lacking or less than perfect about Noah when he exited the ark.
 
According to the Torah commentator, Rashi, the literal meaning of the verse is that only Noah remained alive out of everyone of his generation. Yet he goes on to cite two additional explanations from the Midrash: 1) Noah "was groaning and faint from the exertion of taking care of all the animals"; and 2) he "delayed feeding the lion, and was bitten." Thus according to the Midrash, Noah was either sick and exhausted from overwork or physically injured when he first stepped out of the ark.
 
 
 
 
 
 
But why would G-d allow Noah to be bitten by the lion? Out of all the lions that lived prior to the Flood, G-d chose that particular one (and its mate) to go into the ark. Why would He permit it to attack Noah just because its food was delayed on one occasion?
 
Rashi answers his own question with a quote from Proverbs: "Behold, the righteous man is rewarded on earth." When a righteous person commits even the tiniest misdeed, his punishment is meted out in this world to preserve his reward for the World to Come. Being bitten by the lion was actually to Noah's benefit, for it expiated whatever sin he would have been punished for later.
 
This contains an important lesson for our generation: Like Noah, the sole survivor of the Flood, we are "the firebrand snatched from the fire" that consumed the Jewish people only a generation ago. And just as Noah was entrusted with a special mission to nurture and sustain G-d's creations in the ark, so too have we been charged with providing spiritual sustenance to our Jewish brethren all over the world.
 
 
 
 
 
 
It is not a simple mission. Indeed, it is fraught with difficulties and obstacles, and an occasional threatening "lion." Yet we must not be frightened or become discouraged. Like Noah, we too must forge ahead despite the daunting nature of the task.
 
In truth, the fact that we have personally merited to fulfill G-d's mission is cause for great happiness and joy. That we have merited to be alive when so many of our righteous brethren perished should alone inspire us.
 
Furthermore, learning from Noah's example, we must always strive to ensure that the sustenance we provide is never "delayed." Rather, we must go out of our way to help our fellow Jews both materially and spiritually.
 
(The Rebbe, Likutei Sichos, Vol. 5)
 
* * *
 
 
Great Impatience
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The great flood lasted for 40 days and nights. The waters swept over the entire world and even covered the tops of the mountains, turning the world into a giant pool, a mikveh.
 
When the waters began to recede and the mountaintops became visible, Noah opened the window of the ark to see if the waters had dried. He knew that leaving the ark was not up to him and he would have to await the divine decree. Nevertheless, at the first opportunity he checked to see if the flood had ended.
 
Noah knew that only chaos and devastation awaited him in the world outside the ark. Yet he waited impatiently for the first moment he would be able to leave. He was eager to assume his primary responsibility—to rebuild the world afresh.
 
There are many parallels between the great flood and the world in which we find ourselves today. The flood, the mabul, turned the world upside down. So, too, during exile we must contend with complete spiritual devastation and turmoil, as the prophet Isaiah (5:20) says, “They take darkness for light and bitterness for sweet.” The mabul was meant to purify the world from the filth that had invaded it. So, too, exile is a purification process and preparation for the Redemption.
 
As long as we are in exile we must emulate Noah. We must not sit with folded hands and wait for a divine signal. We must wait impatiently for the first opportunity to be redeemed from this exile, and seek to do what we can to hasten the Redemption. When G-d sees our eagerness, this will lead to an arousal from above. He will grant us our wish and take us out of exile.
 
(The Rebbe, Hitvaaduyot 5745 vol. 4 p. 2406)

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