This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Parshat Noach (5761)
This week’s section tells us of the most awesome and tragic example of Divine retribution of all time. G-d actually annihilated everyone in the entire world because they got so carried away having a good time that they transgressed several of the Noahide commandments [at that time there were only six no murder, no stealing, no idolatry, no incest, no blasphemy and no injustice, the seventh; not eating from a living animal, was added in this weeks section].
Now the casual reader will probably be completely turned off by this gruesome, seemingly obsolete Bible story. It’s gruesome because it seems that G-d really over-reacted, and obsolete, because G-d Himself promised right here in our section that it will never happen again.
In fact, all we have to do is look around us and see that today is pretty much like it was back then before the flood, with no Divine interference.
So what’s the point of the story?
One explanation I think can be illustrated by another, more recent story. Once, in Russia just after the revolution, there was a young Chabad Chassid that became infatuated with first the ideals of Zionism and then Communism. He cast off the bonds of Judaism and suddenly his life became filled with new meaning and excitement. He was free, happy, devoid of morals; he was a Marxist devoted to freeing the world from false boundaries and limitations, and one of them was religion.
His father begged him to change his ways or at least to go see the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rebbe Shalom Dovber (called the ‘Rebbe RshaB’), even for a few seconds. At first the young man scoffed at these old-world suggestions but after much pleading he finally agreed to go to the Rebbe on the condition that two of his non-Jewish comrades join him.
Several days later he and his friends were entering, half drunk, giggling, into the Rebbe’s office. But when they stood face to face before the Holy man it had had a sudden sobering effect on them. A strange silence filled the room as the Rebbe looked at our hero and said in Russian "Oun? Niet! Oun? Niet! Oun? Niet!" (Which means ‘Him? NO!’) And then looked down as to say the meeting was ended.
The young men looked at each other incredulously; quickly backed out of the room closed the door behind them and burst into uncontrollable laughter repeating mockingly, "Oun? Niet! Oun? Niet!!".
Two years passed and our young hero rose higher and higher in the communist party and sunk deeper and deeper into a life of wonton G-dlessness. Everything was wonderful, a bold future was spread out before him and he felt like he was conquering the world, it was all so new and exciting that he hardly found time to sleep.
Until one black day his balloon was abruptly punctured. He received an official invitation in the post to appear at police headquarters for... political interrogation.
Suddenly he was on the wanted list! He had seen it happen to others but never believed that such a loyal member as himself would be accused. It was all so sudden, his head was spinning, it became hard to breathe, he opened the front of his shirt and wiped the cold sweat from his forehead.
He paced back and forth in his room like a trapped animal, it was no mistake, the letter was to him, and no one and nothing could help him now. He had no choice but to run, if only there were no police waiting outside his door. No, if they stopped him he would say that he is on his way to the police station. He wouldn’t even pack a suitcase. He took the letter and left his house, he was now a fugitive.
For months he wandered from town to town like a hunted animal sleeping in alleyways and deserted buildings. His whole appearance changed, he was now thin and bearded and the fire of Communism had left his eyes. He never stayed in one place too long but very often he found himself hanging around synagogues where he could get at least get a piece of bread and a bench to sleep on, and there gradually the sound of the prayers and Torah learning began thawing out something warm and real inside of him.
One day when he was sitting in the corner of an old restaurant sipping a cup of tea, he noticed two policemen standing outside looking through the window at him, one was holding his picture and the other was glancing at it. He tried to look down at the table, but from the corner of his eye he saw how they first looked at one another shook their heads in agreement and then entered, their hands on their pistols as they approached the place that he was sitting.
Our hero was trying not to look up but it was obvious that he reached the end of the line, he closed his eyes and quietly said to himself, "G-d please help me."
Suddenly the door burst open again and a high-ranking police officer entered screaming at the other two, "You lazy bums! Where have you been for the last hour?! I’ve been searching the entire town! I’ll have you tanned for this!!"
"No no, commander!!" they tried to whisper as they held up the picture for him to see, pointing first at it and then at the young bearded man seated in the corner looking down at his cup.
The commander snatched the picture from their hands, took one look at our ex-Chassid and shouted "Oun? Niet!" then another two looks and shouted again even louder, " Oun? Niet! Oun? Niet!!" and began dragging the two policemen out of the inn with blows and screaming.
It was a miracle! And the Rebbe had foreseen it, or perhaps he caused it, in any case the young man immediately traveled to Lubavitch and became a Chabad Chassid again, but this time with a completely joyous heart.
Like the generation of the flood the Communists (the Zionists, Bundists etc. were no better) disobeyed all the commandments of G-d, even the seven Noahide commandments, and cared only for the pleasures of this world, which, in Midrash and Kabala, are liked to water.
But these very pleasures, these very waters, can also drown and destroy anyone who misuses them.
Like in our story, the same Communists that caused him to sin eventually wanted to kill him. G-d purposely made this world into a very luring and confusing place, so that we should purify and clarify the entire creation.
The job of the Tzadik, the Noach in every generation, is to ride above the flood and save everything that can be saved. Then the flood can also be likened to a Mikva of purifying waters. (See our essay of last year in our website)
The ‘Noach’ of our story was the Rebbe RshaB.
What this all has to do with us today is;
The fact that G-d does not destroy the sinners in our generation is a sign that they can be purified.
This is the message of the Noach of our generation the Lubavitcher Rebbe No one need be lost, everyone can be redeemed and realize the task that G-d created him for.
It is the unique job of our generation, the generation of Moshiach, to transform all the turbulent waters; pleasures and confusion of this world, into a symphony of harmony and redemption through following the directions of the Rebbe to BRING MOSHIACH NOW
What does the Rebbe say to do?
First, to learn about (try Chabad literature), think about, and speak about Moshiach whenever possible. Second, to help and encourage every Jew to live according to the laws of the Torah. Especially encouraging the Rebbe’s ‘ten Mivtzoim’ Mezuza, Tefillin, Charity, Learning Torah, Teaching Torah (esp. to children), Buying Torah books, Family Purity, lighting Shabbos and Holiday Candles, eating Matzos, observing the Holidays.
And finally; to encourage every non-Jew to live according to the Seven Noahide Commandments. Then, there will be a different type of flood; a holy flood. As the Rambam brings in the end of his Yad HaChazaka (Isiah 11 9) "(In the days of Moshiach) The world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d, like water fills the ocean."
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