Friday, October 28, 2011

Parashat NOACH - פרשת נח

An old factory building. Seen in Tel Aviv.

Photo: Miriam Woelke


This Week's Torah Reading

This Shabbat, the Jewish world is going to read Parashat NOACH (NOAH). Almost everyone, sooner or later, has come across the story about Noach, his Ark and the Flood. However, Parashat Noach doesn't only consist of Noach and the survival of his family but also includes the "Tower of Bavel" built by evil Nimrod. 

In Noach's time, the world was still almost perfect. Adam and Eve (Chava) had messed up their task in Gan Eden (Paradise) and thus caused a change in humanity (humans became mortal, had to do Tikunim and did not have the perfect souls of Adam HaRishon anymore). Nevertheless, life was still great and easy. Noach's generation had plenty of food, illnesses didn't exist yet and a human life lasted for several hundred years. See Metushelach (Noach's grandfather) with a life span of 969 years or Noach himself who lived for 950 years. 

While going through all kinds of commentaries, I couldn't stop think about the Ark and suddenly had an idea. Maybe this kind of comment already exists somewhere but here is my short interpretation: 

The inside of Noach's Ark could symbolically also be seen as a small world with its own rules. Noach and his family went into the Ark and thus lived according to those rules. Why not comparing the life inside the Ark to the Torah life ? When a Jew lives according to the Torah, he a kind of separates himself from negative things in this world. This kind of separation may be the Ark. I am inside of it. In my own little world, so to speak. 

The question is: How far should such a frum Jew separate himself from the reality of this world ? Can he totally separate himself in order to be the perfect Zaddik without damaging his own personality ? Is it really that positive to separate oneself and maybe loose touch with the daily reality ? 

Noach was separated while being inside the Ark but, as soon as he left, he got confronted with the sad reality. Besides him and his family, almost everyone else had died in the Flood. The world was not the same anymore when he left the Ark. Life was different and some commentators claim that Noach couldn't deal with it, became depressed and started drinking. 

Is a total separation into Holiness (Kedusha) and Torah life what G - d wants from us ? How about all those beautiful things in life such as nature, music or art ? The sense of humor or the wisdom of other people. 

Every human being was created with an individual task and most tasks have something to do with other people. We are in this world in order to do Tikunim (soul rectifications) and most of our dealings have to do with our direct environment. Helping others or influencing them in a positive sense. As soon as I lock myself in a room and only deal with myself and Torah, I am unable to do my Tikunim I am only able to do when I relate to other people. 

Every person needs a balance in life and according to psychology it is not good when a person puts himself into an "Ark" and doesn't come out anymore. When a person only deals with one subject but ignores anything else. Each of us needs to do something completely different from time to time. Go out, speak to other people and simply enjoy life. 

Shabbat Shalom & and have a great, healthy and successful new month (Mar Cheshvan).


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