Printed from NYHebrew.org

Surviving the Hurricanes

Friday, 12 October, 2018 - 6:23 am

Hurricane Florence, Hurricane Michael, often times, we feel as if life is one extended hurricane. We are constantly battling the waves which the sea of life sends our way. As soon as one wave washes ashore, the second one is not far behind threatening to capsize over us unless we skillfully navigate our way over its raging crest. In truth, the daily financial pressures and business worries which life presents us are dubbed by King Solomon as the “mighty waters” which threaten to drown us spiritually and emotionally.

This week’s Torah portion speaks of the Flood which washed away all of civilization. Only Noah and his family survived the Flood by entering the Ark which protected them from the pelting rain. Our eternal Torah isn’t merely telling us a fascinating tale; if we look a bit deeper, at the story behind the story, we can also unravel the secret behind surviving all floods—even the ones which the meteorologists don’t forecast; the ominous floods of life.

G‑d commanded Noah to enter an Ark. The holy Baal Shem Tov points out that the Hebrew word for “Ark,” תיבה, also means “word.” We all can survive the floods which wish to engulf our lives through engrossing ourselves in the holy “words” of Torah and prayer. The person who wakes up in the morning and devotes his first hours or minutes to earnest prayer and some short words of Torah before running off to work, effectively insulates himself against life’s storms.

The sacred words of Torah and prayer have a waterproofing effect, encapsulating the person in an impenetrable bubble which can endure even the harshest winds. Starting the day with prayer and Torah serves as our daily reminder that G‑d is in control, and though we must strive to earn a livelihood, we must never let ourselves become overly perturbed by business pressures—because ultimately everything is from G‑d; and G‑d is always good.

If we can meet life’s storms while in the safe sanctuary of the “Ark” we will find that the stormy waters seemingly so destructive, are actually purifying waters. G‑d purified the world through the flood (which lasted forty days, similar to a mikvah which must contain forty sa’ah of water), and He purifies us by sending challenges and tribulations in our direction. If we are properly prepared for these storms, they express our highest and most noble qualities, thereby elevating us to spiritual heights we could never attain without the help of these hurricanes.

Shabbat Shalom

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