Thursday, October 30, 2008

Parshat Noah (weekly Torah portion)


Jerusalem, Israel
HaRav Yehuda Kreuser SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva
3 Marcheshvan 5769/31 October-1 November 2008


The sun rose in the sky as it has since "time immemorial", another perfect day, not a cloud on the horizon. "Hey Noach, where's that great flood that you have been talking about for the longest time", his fellow neighbours taunted him. "Good thing you got that boat, Noach, looks like rain",they mocked. Noach himself was starting to have second thoughts; here, after working for the past 120 years preparing for this day, the day that the flood was supposed to start, lo and behold - it turns out to be a day like any other day in "Gothem City". As our rabbis teach us, Noach believed, yet did not believe, and only entered the ark when the waters started to rise. In fact, every day during the generation of the Flood was picture-perfect. Crops from the field would last for 40 years, never did it rain nor was it cold, but they enjoyed an all-around spring-like temperature. All this was bestowed upon them by the goodness of Hashem, to give them the perfect conditions for them to serve Him. Yet they used this very gift to rebel against G-d.

Hashem even granted them an additional seven days' respite before bringing the Flood upon the world, that maybe, just maybe this time they would do teshuva and return to Him. This, too, did not help. Finally, on the 17th of Marhesvan the first cloud appeared on the horizon, small and insignificant but maybe this would be the wake-up call to return to Hashem and the world could be spared. Slowly the heavens were filled with dark clouds, and the first rains began to fall. Slowly at first, as the first rains were rains of blessings, maybe now that they started to see rain they would return, and G-d would leave it as is - a rain of blessings.

But they refused to see it as a G-dly sign, even though the warnings of the past years were now being fulfilled; they went about their "business as usual". When the rains persisted, instead of returning to Hashem they gathered at the site of the ark, trying to enter, and when they could not, they tried to destroy it. Finally, the time to repent was over, the Gates of Mercy were closed, Noach was taken up into the ark, the door was shut and the rains quickly turned to acid. The world was lost, all was destroyed.

In spite of the fact that the people of the generation of the Flood were forewarned for years - an amazing aspect of human nature comes to light - even as the warnings were being fulfilled, they still continued denying that this was G-d-sent and acted as if all the events were natural occurrences.

The next generations continued in this folly of seeing everything as a natural occurrence, instead of being the Hand of G-d. The generation of Dispersion had a rational explanation for every event that ever occurred; they stated that once every 1656 years - the time between the Creation and the Flood - the heavens shake, causing a flood - and to prevent the heavens from collapsing again, we must take precautions by building supports, and this tower will be the first. And as G-d had given the generation of the Flood time and time again chances to repent, so he gave the generation of the Tower of Babel time to repent, for there was peace and friendship among them. Still, they did not return to Him and heed His warnings, and so punishment was meted out to them.

In our day, some 4000 years later, we unfortunately continue down this path. Far too few really believe that G-d is the all-powerful Mover of history and Someone Who plays a real part in our daily lives. For many, religion has become a nice object that we place somewhere on the backburner, to be taken out at will but not to be taken too seriously.

There is a G-d of history, Who has returned His people, as described by the prophets, back to their Land. And there is a G-d Who is bringing the Final Redemption to the world, one way or another. And He does play a daily part in all our lives. Now is the time to see His handwriting on the wall, as He turns out the lights in the exiles. Now is not the time - as the "Wall" comes tumbling down - to say this is just a natural occurrence. And as the "god of the bear market" falls fast, it is up to us to see G-d's handwriting on the wall and to grab up this extra time that He has given us to return to Him and to His land. It is still not too late!

With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen

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