Inconvenience yourself, but pamper others

Thursday, 3 November, 2016 - 12:04 pm

The story of Noah contains many lessons. Here is one teaching from the Rebbe that is out of the box and incisive.

Rashi, commenting on Genesis 7:23 states, and only Noah… survived: (Ach) means “only” Noah (and those with him in the ark). This is its simple meaning, but the Midrash states: “He was groaning and spitting blood because of the burden [of caring for] the cattle and the beasts, and some say that he delayed feeding the lion, and it struck him.”

Noah’s dedication to the animals’ needs aboard the ark demonstrates the extent to which one must be willing to go to fulfill his divine mission in this world. Particularly, Noah’s devotion to providing his passengers with physical sustenance serves as a metaphor for those who have been tasked with providing others with spiritual sustenance.

Noah was a spiritual person, the most righteous in his time, yet he fully dedicated himself to the exhausting job of feeding the animals, unabated even by the detriment this caused to his physical health. Emulating Noah, we, too, must commit ourselves to carrying out our mission to bring the Torah’s message of G-dliness and holiness to the world under any circumstances, even if it comes at the expense of our physical comfort. At the same time, however, we must not impose this “willingness for discomfort” on others. As Rashi concludes, “Some say that he delayed feeding the lion, and it struck him…” This teaches us that while we must readily sacrifice our own comfort for the success of our vital and lofty mission, the next person’s needs, or even their conveniences, are not ours to sacrifice or delay.

One of the great Chassidic masters was in a conversation with a wealthy man who described his ascetic eating habits. The Rabbi instructed him to desist his menu of bread and water and to put all of the mouth-watering delicacies back on his table. When the chassidim asked their Rebbe for an explanation he said, “if the rich man suffices with bread and water he will think that poor can subsist on air, but it he eats fish, meat and wine, at least the poor will be given a loaf of bread.”

Speaking of pampering other people… Tonight’s menu for A Taste of Kosher Le Marais is: First dish - Poke (Hawaiian marinated fish) with green bamboo rice, macadamia nuts & hot sauce. Second dish: Sweet corn chowder with cilantro and lime. Third dish: Beef bourguignon with pearled onions. Something for every palate! Vegetarians, the first two dishes are meatless. Make your reservation now Also, important parking info! Tulane has recently revised their parking policies. They now allow the public to park in some restricted areas without a permit after 5:30 pm. So all of the Tulane parking areas around Chabad are available for tonight's event!

We look forward to seeing you there!

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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