With all the holidays now behind us, it feels a little strange having a ‘normal’ week again! I hope you enjoyed the High Holiday experience at our Shule and are still thinking out some of the discussions and experiences that we shared over this special time.
If you could take one main theme out of all my sermons what would it be? I would love to hear your feedback so please let me know your thoughts! The first thing that comes to my mind is this – to be a little more sensitive and caring to the needs of another person. And I believe that this was Noah’s downfall.
Over the weekend we will read the fascinating story about Noah and the great flood. This story took place during a time where all of humanity had descended into deep sin, corruption and immorality and G-d chose to save only Noah and his family along with a sampling of every kind of animal. It took Noah 120 years to build an ark that could survive a year long voyage during which the entire living world would be eradicated. The Midrash describes how Noah built his ark in full view of the public and how he faced the mockery of those who passed him by. Noah, for good reason, was preoccupied with his task. In response to their queries, he would inform them about G-d’s intention to destroy the world. Yet never do we read about an interaction in which he tries to persuade his neighbours to mend their ways. As great as Noah was in devotion to G-d, it seems that he may have been lacking in his love and care towards his fellow man. At the end of the day, in all the time he had to build that ark, he only succeeded in saving himself, his family and the few animals that came to him.
I believe that the timing of this reading is telling. Perhaps it is prodding us to make good of all of our good intentions and promises that we made over the past month to do that little bit more for the other person. It may be challenging us to take a few moments from each day to shift the focus from the building of our own ‘ark’ to assisting others in building theirs.
Wishing you and your families a Shabbat Shalom and I look forward to seeing you in Shule!
Rabbi Yossi and Chana Raizel Friedman