At times, when the hoary ugly head of bloodlust and terrorism raises its head that there is a sense of being engulfed in a flood of pain uncertainty and evil. This has been the case throughout the generation of this people’s walk through history,
We are in the midst of such a time again .
Traditionally our people have looked to the Torah portion to glean insights into the events surrounding their personal or corporate lives. The weekly torah portion has always served as a source insight in whatever situation we are experiencing at the moment.
Perhaps then ,we can turn to the torah portion for some of that direction , strength and insight regarding the latest wave of terror engulfing our land.
In this week’s torah portion of Noah we read the following;
“ These are the generations of Noah . Noah was in his generation man righteous and whole hearted. Noah walked with G-d( Genesis 6:9)
What is meant by the phrase “Noah was in his generations a man righteous and whole-hearted”
Our sages ask if this terminology is meant to imply that had Noah lived in Abraham’s generation, he would not have been considered righteous and whole-hearted. Others suggest that Noah being considered “righteous and whole-hearted” even in the midst of his evil generation implies that he would have been even greater in Abraham’s generation. Others yet understand that each generation needs a different survival mechanism and a different form of transmitting the message of holiness. There are times when the open tent of Abraham is needed. Yet there are other times when the evil of the world threatens to engulf the world or our cities, that the protective shell of an ark is needed.
So Noah is told;
“Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with compartments, and you shall caulk it both inside and outside with pitch.( Genesis 6:14)
The first lesson when dealing with the onslaught of evil is to prepare and act in all the ways that are necessary in order to ensure your survival, regardless of what others in the world thinks and determines.
Rashi asks why was Noah commanded to build an ark ” Many ways to bring relief and rescue are available to Him; why, then, did He burden him with this construction? In order that the people of the Generation of the Flood should see him occupying himself with it for one hundred twenty years and ask him, “For what do you need this?”
Noah needed to continue in the task in spite of all the accusations and ridicule. The world’s media is filled with accusations and blame against the victims of the terrorist attacks. The swift curtailing of events and the neutralization of the terrorist and his or her threat are viewed as unwarranted and excessive actions. Instead of condemning the attackers the victims are maligned for ending the terrorist acts quickly and decidedly.
Secondly, we are living in a time where people have lost the courage and conviction to combat the flood of evil that is engulfing significant portions of the world. Rashi continues to explain “When they ask him, “For what do you need this?”And he would say to them, “The Holy One, blessed be He, is destined to bring a flood upon the world.” Perhaps they would repent. “
In a world where the determination to be discerning and principled has been forgotten it is important for the people of Israel to react with strength conviction and swift action. Perhaps the world will see and understand.
The third lesson is found in the words of the verse that declares; ” and you shall caulk it both inside and outside with pitch.”(ibid:7)
The external measures taken to protect the people are critical but are no less important than the inner coats of protection. The people of this country have to speak and be spoken to in the language of the ideals that created this country in the first place. They need to be reminded of the spiritual moorings and basis that makes our existence in this land so important. They need to focus on their inner coating of faith as the work on bolstering their outer coat of protection.
Yet the fourth message may be the most important. In addition to the building of the ark Noah is commanded “and you shall come into the ark, you and your sons, and your wife and your sons’ wives with you.”( ibid:8).
This is the powerful secret of the Jewish people , their allegiance to family and to each other. The exodus from Egypt did not and could not begin with a gigantic televised gathering in Tahrir square in the center of Cairo. It necessitated every family to gather into themselves and find faith and courage in their familial bond. In our time every family must find the time to answer unasked questions of their children, enable the members of the family to avoid crippling feelings while at the same time engage in wise protective measures.
Finally we read “And Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did. “We can never lose sense of our divinely appointed mission here on this land. Recently a foreign visitor told me how, when he enters into the land of Israel he immediately feels safe. While it is true that the world is becoming increasingly dangerous and volatile, yet this land is not about safety , it is about Divine purpose.
The sense of inner calm that this man felt was that he was standing in the place of purpose and destiny. Tragedy can occur in this land as well ,as we have all painfully experienced, but the sense of being in the “right” place offers a deep sense of inner resolute calm.
In the words of the powerful song “ Am HaNetzach Lo mifached Miderech Arukha-The Eternal people have no fear of the long voyage”
LeRefuat Yehudit bat Golda Yocheved