(Torah Portion Noach) Catch the Spirit!
The movie, “Noah” that recently played in the theaters has piqued the interest of many people to find out the facts given in our Torah and Oral tradition concerning Noah, the flood and the Ark. It is highly recommended to read this week’s Torah portion with Rashi’s commentary (Artscroll publications are wonderful) to gain a clear understanding.
During the flood, the world was covered with water with the waters rising about 30 feet above the highest mountain! In fact much of the water was from hot springs and it was very hot!
The Talmud asks why didn’t the sealant tar that protected the Ark melt off because of the heat of the waters? Also, how were Noah and his family and all the animals, fowl and insects able to breathe the hot air while they were in the Ark? Additionally, there were two living beings that hung onto the exterior of the Ark and survived; one was the great human giant Og and the other was a huge animal called the Re’eim who were too large to fit on the Ark. How did they survive?
The Talmud answers that G-d made a miracle and the Ark was cooled and ventilated. The waters and air around the Ark were also cooled by the Ark.
The Talmud tells us that the Re’eim would place his nostrils against the Ark and breathe the air provided by the Ark.
Commentators draw a parallel between the raging destructive waters of the flood and the ills, chaos, temptation, hatred, and crime of today’s society. Just as Noah and his family survived by being in the Ark, so too, today, we need to construct an ark for ourselves. The material for the ark that we need to construct to protect ourselves is not found at Home Depot.
In fact, it is actually our holy Shabbos! When one follows the rules of our G-d given gift of Shabbos he creates sanctity for himself and his family. That is our ‘Ark’ – of protection from the raging negative influences of society. A Shabbos that is welcomed – elevates us and provides us with blessing and a clear mind to navigate the sea of negative influences and remain elevated and protected throughout the coming week.
This Shabbos an estimated One Million Jews, who would otherwise not observe the Shabbos in its detail, have signed up to Keep the Shabbos! This amazing initiative has spread globally through the energy and momentum of the chief Rabbi of South Africa, Rabbi Warren Goldstein.
Although not every Jew can make an immediate transformation to be Shabbat observant, let me share what occurred during a class that I was delivering a few days after Yom Kippur. A regular attendee said she wanted to say something to the class. She began, “You all know, I am not particularly careful concerning the laws of Kashruth. However, last week, before Yom Kippur I was doing food shopping and I picked up my usual non-kosher product, and I stopped and said to myself, ‘Do I really need this? And I promptly put it down! And you know what, I felt very good about it! I see I have the ability to do it, since I am tuned into it. ”
I was thinking that this is a great inspiration towards embracing Shabbat observance.
Sometime before Shabbat, think to yourself how you can minimize the creative activities that are forbidden on Shabbos during the coming weekend.
It could be setting lights in certain areas of the home, so that they don’t have to be turned on or off. Perhaps you can cook food before Shabbos or hold off from driving and shopping, or from answering the phone or placing a call.
When one consciously withholds from such an activity, he becomes “Shomer Shabbat,” regarding this action. This mindset helps elevate and raises one’s consciousness to the sanctity of Shabbat and further energizes the gradual and amazing spiritual journey that Shabbos affords.
Shabbos is a time to pause from the turbulence of the world without all the distractions that usually fill and occupy our time and minds and reconnect with ourselves, our spouses, our children, our family and our friends.
Draw on Shabbos’ special time to make Kiddush, enjoy delicious meals, pray, relax, study the portion of the week or read something that connects us further to our rich heritage.
The enjoyment and serenity that Shabbat offers us is in fact a sample and taste of the World to Come!
Wishing you a most enjoyable and exciting Shabbat!
Rabbi Dovid and Malki Saks and family