Friday, November 4, 2016

Parsha Perspective

By Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman

This week’s Parsha Perspective is dedicated by Mr. Binyomin Philipson in memory of his late mother Mrs. Ellen (Elka bas Zisel) Philipson OBM

Often times, we feel as if life is one extended hurricane. We are constantly battling the waves which the sea of life sends our way.  One wave after another threatens to capsize us and we need to skillfully navigate our way over its raging crest. Indeed, the daily financial pressures and business worries which life presents us with are dubbed by King Solomon as the "mighty waters" which threaten to drown us. They primarily imperil our spiritual side, desensitizing us to that which is really important in life through causing us to be constantly focused on making another buck. They constantly occupy our minds, rendering it like a vessel filled to the brim with murky waters which won't allow the radiance of the sun to let it sparkle.

Our Torah portion this week Noach (Bereishis [Genesis] 6:9 -11:32) speaks of the great Flood that washed away all of civilization. Only Noah and his family survived the Flood by entering the Ark which protected them from the pelting rain from above and the churning waters which rose from the depths.

Our eternal Torah isn't merely telling us a fascinating tale. If we look a bit deeper, at the story behind the story, we can also unravel the secret behind surviving all floods - even the ones which the meteorologists don't forecast: the ominous floods of life.

G-d commanded Noah to enter an Ark. The Chassidic master, Baal Shem Tov, points out that the Hebrew word for "ark," teivah, also means "word." We all can survive the floods, which wish to engulf our lives, through engrossing ourselves in the holy "words" of Torah and prayer. The person who wakes up in the morning and devotes his first hours to earnest prayer and some short words of Torah study, before running off to work, effectively insulates himself against life's storms. Starting the day with prayer and Torah serves as our daily reminder that G-d is in control, and though we must strive to earn a livelihood, we must never let ourselves become overly perturbed by business pressures - because ultimately everything is from G-d, and G-d is always good.

One who meets life's storms while in the safe sanctuary of the "Ark" will find that the storm waters which seem to be so destructive are actually purifying waters. G-d purified the world through the flood (which lasted forty days, similar to a mikvah [ritual pool] which must contain forty sa’ah [a Biblical liquid measure] of rain water), and He purifies us by sending challenges in our direction. If we are properly prepared for these storms, they bring out our highest and most noble qualities, elevating us to spiritual heights we could never attain without the help of these hurricanes.

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

May you have a meaningful and uplifting Shabbos!!

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