Thursday, October 3, 2013

Parsha Perspective

By Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman, Dean, Cheder Chabad of Monsey

This week’s Torah portion Noach (Bereishis [Genesis] 6:9 -11:32) reviews the famous narrative of Noach and the Flood .  A remarkable but often overlooked aspect of the story of the Flood is the living conditions within the Ark, and the "strange bedfellows" it created. For an entire year, this relatively small vessel housed at least two specimens of every living creature. This means that animals which in their native habitats are predatory lived in close quarters with their natural prey -- but no creature was harmed. Cooperation and harmony between all inhabitants of the Ark was key to their survival.

Our sages explain that the Ark was pervaded by a Messianic spirit which produced a miraculously harmonious atmosphere. "A wolf shall live with a lamb... and a lion, like cattle, shall eat straw" (Isaiah 11:6-7). The Messianic "new world order" described in the books of the prophets was temporarily realized in the confines of the small Ark.

What lesson can we derive from the Messianic aura which pervaded the Ark during the dark days of the Flood?

While the Flood's torrential rains ended more than 4000 years ago, in a spiritual/emotional sense, many -- if not all -- of us wake up every day to face a "flood" of worries, predicaments and responsibilities. These metaphoric "raging waters" threaten to drown us -- financially, emotionally, and perhaps most importantly, spiritually.

Many think that if they tread water for long enough the skies will brighten and the storm will pass. Wishful thinking... Instead the Torah gives us the best solution: Enough of the "dead-man's float." Enter the Ark!

We all have the ability to transform our own homes into miniature Arks, Messianic microcosms, insulated cocoons where we can escape the storm together with our families. How? The Messianic Age is characterized as an era when "all physical delights will be as plentiful -- and as valued -- as the dust of the earth," because "knowledge of G-d will be the pursuit of the entire world." By adjusting our perspective and adopting a "messianic mentality," a state of mind which prioritizes Torah, Mitzvot, prayer and the pursuit of spirituality, we create a semblance of this "future world" in our present-day lives. When our priorities are in order, all the storms in the world cannot faze us, and inner tranquility prevails.

This transformation starts with a mental priority-shift; it expresses itself practically by the steady addition of another Mitzvah, another Torah class, and yet another section of the prayers recited with proper concentration.

May we merit to see the Messianic era in its full splendor, speedily in our days !

(Excerpts from Chabad.org - by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg)

May  you have a meaningful and uplifting Shabbos!

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