Noach (Genesis 6:9-11:32 )
GOOD MORNING! This week's Torah portion is Noah -- the story of the world being destroyed by a flood because of the way people treated each other (see Dvar Torah). It is a lesson that we all need to take to heart. Did you ever ask yourself, "What would it take to create a perfect world and perfect humanity?" Here's my list. These are all ideas culled from the Torah, the Instruction Book for Life.
1. Speak Properly -- Gossip is the verbal atomic bomb of relationships. It destroys marriages, businesses, friendships. Just because it's true doesn't mean that you have to -- or should -- say it. High level people speak about ideas, average people speak about things, inferior people speak about people. Go for the high level! A kind word at the right time can change a life, inspire, encourage greatness.
2. Act with Honesty and Integrity -- Your word is your bond. You may gain in the short term in money or success through dishonesty, but it will cost you a loss of respect, trust, love and close relationships. If you always answer truthfully, you will avoid doing things that you would be embarrassed to explain.
3. Respect Others -- Rabbi Akiva said it best, "Don't do unto others as you would not want done to you." Every person on this planet is created in the image of the Almighty. If you don't respect others, you don't respect the Almighty!
4. Be Kind to Others -- Go out of your way each day to help others. Hold a door for someone, help carry the groceries into the house, listen when you would rather run away, smile at others and find something nice to say. Meaning in life comes from serving a higher goal ... like helping others.
5. Study Wisdom -- Pirke Avot, Ethics of Our Fathers, says, "An uneducated person cannot be righteous." You need to study wisdom in order to know what to do or not to do, what to say or what not to say. Study of wisdom keeps you focused and helps you grow. It keeps you in contact with your beliefs and values. The Torah is a compendium of wisdom; it is the instruction book for life. (See Aish.com and PartnersInTorah.org)
6. Work for a Cause -- Be bigger than yourself! Work to perfect the world! After 120 years on your deathbed you'll look back on your life. Do you want to measure your life in terms of how many vacations you took or steaks you ate, or what you did to help others and make this a better world. One person and the Almighty is a majority. You can change the world -- or your community -- or your family -- or yourself. Love justice and counter injustice and evil!
7. Be Humble -- Wisdom only enters a humble person. An arrogant person is too full of himself for anything to enter. Humility is not letting people walk all over you; humility is knowing exactly what your talents and capabilities are and knowing that they are gifts from the Almighty. What would you think of a person who says, "Hey, look at me! I can move my hand"? Is it any different if a person says, "Hey, look at me! I can do differential calculus"? Don't be arrogant over using your potential. Be thankful.
8. Pray -- God doesn't need our prayers. We need prayer to focus us on the source of our blessings, the Almighty. Knowing from where our blessings come makes it good for the Almighty to give to us. Even if a person doesn't believe in God, praying makes a person realize that he himself is not God.
9. Make a Daily Accounting -- Growth and accomplishment only comes through focus and effort. Each day ask yourself: 1) What am I living for? 2) What did I do towards my goal today? 3) What did I do away from my goal today? 4) What is a better goal to work towards?
10. Be real with God and with Life. Being real with God is realizing that there are consequences for your actions. There is no free lunch. Ultimately there is reward for good actions and punishment for your transgressions ... if not in this world, then in the next. Being real with life is realizing that you are going to die. We think there is a club of people who die ... and we don't belong. Everyone dies. If you had a clock on top of your television counting down to the day of your death, at what point would you get up and turn off the television and do all the things that you have been putting off?
Noah, Genesis 6:9 - 11:32
The story of one righteous man in an evil generation. The Almighty commands Noah to build the ark on a hill far from the water. He built it over a period of 120 years. People deride Noah and ask him, "Why are you building a boat on a hill?" Noah explains that there will be a flood if people do not correct their ways. We see from this the patience of the Almighty for people to correct their ways and the genius of arousing people's curiosity so that they will ask a question and, hopefully, hear the answer.
The generation does not do Teshuva, returning from their evil ways, and God brings a flood for 40 days. They leave the ark 365 days later when the earth has once again become habitable. The Almighty makes a covenant and makes the rainbow the sign of the covenant that He will never destroy all of life again by water (hence, James Baldwin's book, The Fire Next Time). When one sees a rainbow it is an omen to do Teshuva -- to recognize the mistakes you are making in life, regret them, correct them/make restitution, and ask for forgiveness from anyone you have wronged as well as from the Almighty.
Noah plants a vineyard, gets drunk and then occurs the mysterious incident in the tent after which Noah curses his grandson Canaan. The Torah portion concludes with the story of the Tower of Babel and then a genealogy from Noah's son, Shem, to Abram (Abraham).
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based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states, "And God said to Noah: 'The end of all flesh is come before Me, for the earth is filled with corruption (chamas)' " (Genesis 6:13). Rabbi Yochanan said, "Come and see the power of corruption. The generation of the flood violated everything, but the final decree against them was not signed until they were guilty of stealing" (Talmud Bavli, Sanhedrin 108a).
The Midrash defines the term chamas, found in this verse, as stealing less than the value of a prutah, an amount so monetarily insignificant that courts do not force a thief who has only stolen this amount to return it. In Noah's generation, when a person would take out a box full of beans to sell, someone would come along and grab less than a prutah's worth. Then another would do the same, and then another; and although the victim would be left without any beans, he could not take anyone to court for the thefts. (Braishis Rabba 30). This was done publicly and condoned. Our lesson: When you're in a fruit store don't sample the grapes -- without permission!
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Your self-worth is not your net worth