A Thought for the Week
Believing in G-d is tricky business. We are believers. We do Mitzvos, we say the Shema every day, we keep Shabbos carefully, phrases such as "G-d willing" and "G-d forbid" are a regular part of our vocabulary.
Noach was a believer. He spent one hundred and twenty years building boat because G-d told him to. There was going to be a flood. He planted and cultivated special cedar trees so that he would have timber that could withstand the fierce elements of "nature". He followed G-d's measurement and blueprints with exacting faith.
As it started to rain Noach watched the entire animal kingdom, seven by seven and then two by two march before him as if led by a divine hand. Each took their appropriate place in the ark awaiting their mission to renew the world. They understood their roles as remnants of the past surviving in order to recreate their world. Everything G-d said came true - the ark stood tall, the animals marched in and the skies opened up and released a torrential downpour never before known to mankind. People started to panic as they watched their crop and livestock get destroyed and their homes crumble. Every creation understood - except Noach. Noach wouldn't enter the ark. It wasn't until the floodwaters pushed him into the ark that he entered. Why did Noach wait? What was his hesitation? What was Noach thinking?
Says Rashi, Noach didn't completely believe!
He could have fooled me. The Torah tells us that Noach was a Tzadik, he was perfect, he was a mentch, and he was either a little greater than his famous descendant Abraham or he was a little bit less great. He preached G-d, he lived G-d, and he worshipped G-d, yet he didn't fully believe in G-d! So Noach didn't enter the Ark as did his partners in world renewal; he had to be pushed in by mighty flooding waters!
Noach had faith but it was the raging waters that not only pushed him into the ark of survival but pushed him into the most complete level of faith in G-d.
We are living through difficult times. There is a sense of anxiety and even panic in the air and justifiably so. This is a test of our faith. This is the moment we have been learning about. This situation draws upon the most basic aspect of our Judaism. G-d.
Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik was once called to appear before the NKVD, predecessor of the equally infamous Soviet KGB. With the possibility of imprisonment or hard labor lying before him, he fell asleep in their waiting room. The student that accompanied him could not hold himself back from asking his Rebbe how he could possibly fall asleep when his whole future will be decided in the next few minutes. His response was historical, "I believe in G-d!"
Tzadikim find calm in their deep knowledge that there is no pot luck and no chaos in this world. G-d is in charge. This state of calm is the hallmark of the faithful.
As Jews we must grow from what has become a very difficult situation. We must keep our ears to the ground but our hearts in the Heavens.
Rabbi Yaacov Haber
Rabbi Haber is the OU's National Director of Jewish Education and the spiritual leader of the OU's Pardes Program
Comments and questions are very welcome
"A tree of life for those who embrace it"