OCTOBER 28-29, 2011 1 HESHVAN 5772
“Two by two they came to Noah to the ark.” (Beresheet 7:9)
As the time of the flood approached, the animals, by themselves, came to the ark. This was a special act of G-d and was part of the episode of the flood which was entirely an open act of G-d. Yet the method used was entirely in accordance with the natural behavior of living things. It is known that salmon swim up rivers and leap rapids to return to their original waters. Birds migrate tremendous distances and return to their precise place of origin. These creatures possess built-in clocks and direction finders, much like today’s GPS, that allow them to return to precisely the same tree or spot or cliff with pinpoint accuracy. Now when the creatures were needed for the ark, at Hashem’s command their instincts of migration and direction-finding were activated to lead them to the ark.
Rabbi Avigdor Miller z”l explains that they came at the command of Hashem, and the fact that all of them arrived at that time and in the exact number (male and female) was an open miracle of the greatest magnitude. This was Hashem’s mercy on the generation to encourage them to change their ways before the flood came. It is certain that many were astonished at this marvelous phenomenon. But the leaders refused to admit, after all these years, that Noah had been right and that they misled the people, and therefore the opportunity was lost.
This is not surprising. In our day the academicians have influenced men to ignore the miracles of plan and purpose that the Creator has demonstrated in nature to teach men about Him. Actually men today are more guilty because the discoveries of science have demonstrated today more clearly than ever before that every object and process in nature occurs with infinite cunning of plan and purpose, so that not the least excuse remains today to fail to see the hand of G-d in all of reality. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
We are all familiar with the story of the mabul, the flood which Hashem brought in the time of Noah. Because of the wickedness of the people, Hashem wanted to destroy the world and commanded Noah to build an Ark, which ultimately saved him and his family and all different species of animals, birds, etc.
We are under the impression that what saved Noah and his family was the fact that they were in the Ark, “protected” from the elements outside. Over the last many months, we have seen that even a strong house can be meaningless in the face of a storm, let alone a wooden Ark of Noah. The Rabbis tell us that what protected him was the hesed, kindness, which he performed in the Tebah. For one full year he was running around with his family to provide different food for every type of creature at different feeding times. The world was being destroyed because of corruption which is based on selfishness. The salvation came about through kindness which is based on selflessness.
In times of trouble and especially in the days leading to Mashiah, hesed, kindness, and selflessness will be the attributes which will save us from the floods of the world. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
“And Hashem saw the earth and behold it was corrupted.”(Beresheet 6:12)
The entire world had become corrupt and evil. Immorality had become a normative lifestyle. Yet, we find no indication that this rampant evil was noticed by anyone other than Hashem. He observed the situation and responded accordingly. Why did anyone not challenge the reprehensible manner in which the people were acting? Rav Simcha Zisel M’Kelm responds that, specifically because everyone was obsessively involved in sin, their perspective of evil was distorted.
One whose glasses are tinted blue will see blue wherever he looks. Even if someone points out the folly of his ways to the sinner, he will not take notice while he is submerged in the mire of sin. He must first have a hirhur teshubah, thought of repentance. This small inspiration is the beginning of the withdrawal of the cloud of subjectivity which distorts his vision. He can then take a hard look at his sins and initiate their expiation. (Peninim on the Torah)
“And they said ‘Let us build for ourselves a city and tower with its top in the heavens’” (Beresheet 11:4)
Rashi explains that they planned to “wage war against G-d”. But how did they think they could reach the heavens?
Rabbi Yehonatan Eibeschutz, renowned Torah scholar, writer and Rabbi of Prague and Hamburg, answers that they were aware of the laws of gravity. Their plan was to build a tower so high that it would surpass the earth’s gravitation pull. They could then ascend to the top of the tower where they would become weightless, enabling them to fly up into the heavens where they imagined they could confront G-d. (Evidently Newton’s Law of Gravity and the space program have been in the Torah for thousands of years.) (Vedibarta Bam)
One of the greatest powers of the human mind is imagination. It can be an enemy that sinks your ship, or a great friend who throws you a life raft. Many times when you feel unhappy or impatient, it is only your imagination, not reality, which is bothering you.
Rabbi Zelig Pliskin says, “When we are experimenting impatience, it is often because we are picturing in our minds how we will be late, how we are losing out, how we would like to be somewhere else, and many similar mental pictures.” Great leaders and visionaries, on the other hand, use their imagination to create mental pictures of goals that they are eventually able to achieve with phenomenal success.
It is good exercise to imagine potential situations that will test your patience. After creating a mental picture of an aggravating scenario, picture yourself handling the pressure in a calm, cool, patient fashion. See yourself overcoming the test. Enjoy and savor your victory.
Practice this technique several times a day. Then, when a real challenge arises, use your imagination to wipe out the make-believe problems that your lack of patience is throwing at you. Think “calm.” It will soothe your soul and get you through many days in a more satisfied and healthy state of mind.
Imagine that! (One Minute With Yourself – Rabbi Raymond Beyda)
In a resort hotel, outside of Yerushalayim, the mashgiach, kosher supervisor, would see to it that a daily minyan was provided for the guests. One day he found it challenging to come up with the requisite ten worshippers. He decided that he would go outside and search for the elusive tenth man. Soon, he met a Jew who neither had a clue what a minyan was, nor the desire to participate in one. The mashgiach patiently explained the significance of minyan to the man and the awesome reward in store for those who pray with a minyan. Shortly thereafter, the stranger acquiesced and joined the minyan.
He followed the mashgiach into the apartment. Soon, the son of one of the worshippers arrived. They now had a minyan - without the stranger from the street. The mashgiach thanked him for his good intentions and bid him a good day. Since he really could not relate to the entire ceremony, the stranger, feeling more comfortable elsewhere, said good-bye and left.
The years elapsed. The mashgiach was sleeping one night, and he had a dream. In the dream, the man whom he had called to be the tenth man appeared before him, his countenance shining brilliantly. The man related to the mashgiach that he had passed from this world during the previous month. "I have come to pay my gratitude to you," he said, "for attempting to include me in your minyan. You have no idea of the unimaginable spiritual reward I have received as a result of the three steps I walked up to complete the minyan." He added, "I have one favor to ask of you. I have one son who lives in Yerushalayim. Regrettably, I raised him with as much religious affiliation as I myself was acquainted. He is non-observant. In fact, he is very estranged from a life of Torah and misvot. As a result, I have no one to recite Kaddish for my soul. If you could go to speak to him, perhaps convince him of the importance of saying Kaddish, he might listen. It will mean so much. Please."
The mashgiach, of course, met with the son of the deceased and succeeded in convincing him to say Kaddish for his late father. All this was the result of three steps! Can we even begin to imagine the reward for complete misvah observance? Three steps led to the son's return to Hashem. Hashem takes all of this into account. How encouraging. How compelling. (Peninim on the Torah)
A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.
Call to 646-279-8712 or email firstname.lastname@example.org (Privacy of email limited by the email address)
Please pass this message along. Tizku L'misvot.
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