We, too, are faced with "floods" that distract our minds, rock our hearts, and threaten to destroy all that is alive in our personal world. The coronavirus pandemic is just one major example of the many types of floods that can shake our world with instability and doubt. But we, too, ought to respond by constructing spiritual "arks" and "words" to hold and preserve the fractions of our lives that are important and precious to us.Rabbi Allouche
Talk about pressure!
Noach, the hero in this week’s Torah portion, and his family faced some of our history’s most extreme pressures. He lived in a society in which every one of its members was filled with immoralities. Every single one, without exception. I don’t know if it is humanly possible to remain moral, let alone, sane, in such a world. It would have certainly been much easier for Noach to “go with the flow” and raise children that didn’t have to be different.
Yet, Noach withstands the immense pressures with impressive conviction and he remains loyal to his true, Divine self and calling. But what was his secret?
Noach may have achieved this almost-impossible feat by building an ark – not just a physical one, that would hold and preserve G-d creatures, but also a spiritual one.
The saintly Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the Chassidic movement, points out that the Hebrew word for “ark,” teivah, that Noach build, also means a “word.” To protect himself and his family, Noach built a spiritual “ark” of words of holiness and values of goodness and kindness. And when the raging flood erupted, G-d commanded Noach to come into his spiritual ark too, and enter into its haven of sanctity.
We, too, are faced with “floods” that distract our minds, rock our hearts, and threaten to destroy all that is alive in our personal world. The coronavirus pandemic is just one major example of the many types of floods that can shake our world with instability and doubt. But we, too, ought to respond by constructing spiritual “arks” and “words” to hold and preserve the fractions of our lives that are important and precious to us. This ark will then surely serve as a “spiritual vaccine” for covid-19 and all other negative floods.
At times, our efforts seem pointless. Can the small spiritual “arks” that we build really save us from life’s raging waters? Can five minutes of prayer every morning really affect our day? And how about the seven minutes that I dedicate to calling a friend or a stranger who needs help? Or the fifteen minutes that I devote to my child to help him with his homework, or with a dilemma he may be facing? Or the six seconds that I spend to smile, say a good word, and brighten someone’s day?
Yet, this is the beauty, and power, of Noach’s lesson: He too couldn’t save the whole world. He too could not dedicate the totality of his time and the fullness of his heart to embrace and impact all that he wanted. So every day, he dedicated a few hours to constructing an ark to preserve that which he could.
With this big idea in mind, I encourage you to join me in injecting this spiritual vaccine into your lives and building this spiritual ark, by filling our Mitzvah bank in loving memory of Rabbi Steinsaltz that aims to collect 2000 Mitzvahs until his first Yahrzeit. Please email us your Mitzvah here: MitzvahforRavAdin@BethTefillahAZ.org
It can be anything: from wrapping Tefillin, to affixing Mezuzot on all your doorposts, to going to the Mikvah, to lighting Shabbat candles, to helping the needy, to visiting the sick. Your Mitzvah is sure to create a heavenly ark here on Earth, that will save you from the floods of life, and bring about blessings of healing and goodness.
For at the end of the day, as Noach so shiningly demonstrates, it is those few moments that we dedicate daily and consistently, to building that ark of goodness that will help us preserve our sanity, dignity, and divinity, and create a legacy that makes a difference, and saves the world.
Disclaimer: While this “spiritual vaccine” is, by no means, a medical proposal that aims to heal us physically, I have no doubt that it can heal us spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, and, as mentioned, bring a dose of sanity, dignity, and Divinity, into our lives and our world.