Riding the Floodwaters to Success

Friday, 28 October, 2022 - 1:42 pm

Nearly every ancient culture has a “flood story.” In the story the deity wishes to destroy the world/humanity and one person/group is allowed to survive, often in a boat/ark. When we read the Torah’s account of the deluge in Noah’s time, it is similar to the others. The waters are referred to as a Mabul, which means flood or deluge. However, in Isaiah’s prophecy where he references the story (which we read for the Haftarah), the waters are called Mei Noach – the waters of Noah. Why would we name the waters after the one guy who wasn’t destroyed?

The Chassidic masters point out, that this informs us that the waters were not just about destruction, but also about cleansing. This is alluded to by the 40 days of rain, corresponding to the 40 seah (liquid measures) of water required for a Mikvah. The waters of Noah, bring cleansing and healing to the world, enabling it to start over anew. Furthermore, the waters were effective in bringing Noah and the people in the ark to greater heights. The verse states, (Genesis 7:17) “Now the Flood was forty days upon the earth, and the waters increased, and they lifted the ark, and it rose off the earth.”

Our sages explain that the floodwaters represent our material concerns, which threaten to drown away our love and connection to Hashem. The Baal Shem Tov teaches that the ark symbolizes the words of Torah and prayer (etymologically related to the Hebrew word for ark - Tevah). So, the way to survive the onslaught of our material concerns (the need to be involved in making a living) is to take haven in the ark – prayer and Torah study. Once we are secure in the ark, not only do the floodwaters not have the power to drown our connection to Hashem, they can actually serve as a means of elevating us by compelling us to dig deeper within ourselves to maintain that connection.

This is generally true of most challenges in life. If we find the means to survive the challenge, we actually discover that the challenge helps us thrive and grow even greater than we could have previously imagined.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin


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