Parshat Noach - Three Levels of Walking
Reb Shlomo on Parshas Noach
Three Levels of Walking
There are three levels of walking.
There is walking before somebody; there is walking with somebody.
And then there is walking behind somebody.
Every mother and father is ready to walk before their child. "I will walk in front of you and tell you exactly what to do." Sometimes a parent is ready to walk with a child. But to walk behind them - this is the highest level.
There is a level of doing Teshuva because I know that G-d is walking in front of me. I want to catch up with Him. Then there is a level of Teshuva where I know that G-d is walking, and I want to walk with Him. The highest level of Teshuva is when G-d walks behind me.
What does it mean that G-d walks behind me?
It means that I look back and see that whatever I learned is even deeper than I thought, so I walk back and want to learn it all over again. Like with your close friend when you say goodbye - you turn around and he is walking behind you, saying, "Don't leave yet. Come back for another minute."
This was the level of Noach - a Tzadik Tamim. It says by Avraham "His'haleich Lefanei veHeyei Tamim". Hashem said walk in front of Me and be Complete - This level of walking he received from his grandfather Noach, who was walking with Hashem all the time.
Coming Back on Har Sinai
Let me ask you friends, what happened to all the souls of dor ha'mabul (generation of the flood)?
Not to be believed. all the souls that died in the flood came back, and were slaves in Egypt. They were also the generation to receive the Torah on Mount Sinai. Do you know how holy those souls were? Unbelievable.
Now let's go a million miles deeper. What was the weather like when we stood at Mount Sinai? Was the sun shining or was it raining? Listen, G'd's thunder can be heard in sunshine alos. But you know friends, on Mount Sinai it was raining.Everything from heaven was coming down. Whats the Torah all about? Torah is Heaven that is coming down to this world.
You know what it is? The Zohar HaKadosh says that during the first forty days of the flood, G-d was waiting every second that maybe they would repent and G-d would reveal Himself to them like on Mount Sinai.
Can you imagine/. That means on the one hand, people are so low that they should be destroyed, and yet on the other hand, at that very moment, G-d is waiting to reveal Himself to them on the highest level?
G-d is waiting.
Do you know what this all means? You don't know anything about a person. You don't know anything about what a person is like inside. You can take the lowest creep, you can take the most perverted impossible human being, and in one second this person can reach the level that he should stand at Mount Sinai and G-d talks to him, which only happened one time in history.
And you see what it is? Noach didn't have this depth. He mamesh believed in G-d. G-d can do anything in the world, but he did not believe that a human being, who can be so low, can reach the highest in one second.
Moshe And Noach
You know friends, when it comes to Noach, the Torah is a bit angry with him. The Zohar Hakadosh (Zohar Noach 67b) says that the prophet calls the flood 'Mei Noach' (Yeshaya 54:9), the waters of Noach.
You know what the prophet is saying? Noach, why didn't you talk to your generation? So you think they were crazy, hopeless, perverted and sinful. Why don't you think that you couldn't have gotten through to your generation?
And here I want to tell you something very, very deep friends: Everybody knows that the Seer of Lublin was a pupil of the Heilige Reb Elimelech. One time Reb Elimelech says to the Seer of Lublin 'I taught you as much as I could but there is one thing you have to learn from my holy Brother, the Heilige Reb Zusha'. So the Seer of Lublin, the Heilige Chozeh of Lublin - his light should shine into our hearts, into our souls, into the hearts of our children forever - he comes to the Rebbe Reb Zusha. And the Heilige Rebbe Reb Zusha, the holy of holies Reb Zusha, it gives me shivers just to mention his holy name. Gevalt, Gevalt what a Yid, what a Rebbe! The Rebbe Reb Zusha says to the Seer Of Lublin 'When you want people to become better, when you want people to do teshuvah, what are you telling them?'
'Ah', the Seer of Lublin says, 'it's very simple. I show them what they did wrong. I tell them whatever they did is bad, is forbidden, and I explain to them they have to do teshuvah'.
'Oy', the Rebbe Reb Zusha says, 'it's not the way, why do you think they do so much wrong? Because they don't have enough strength. They don't have enough energy from Heaven to do right. They did so much bad that they are completely cut off from Heaven. They are completely cut off from this holy flow, from this high energy which gives us strength to do right. And besides, they are drowning in mud. Why do you push them deeper?'.
So the Seer of Lublin asks the Heilige Reb Zusha 'Heilige Reb Zusha, well, how do you do it?'
'Ahh', the Rebbe Reb Zusha says 'when I see somebody doing wrong, I cry over them. I am mamshich chasadim, I bring down kindness upon them. I am bringing down so much light and love from Heaven. Do you know what happens then? There is such a deep awakening, such a deep awakening inside of them, that it's not even hard for them. They want to be good, they want to be holy. They want to be beautiful, they want to be Yidden'.
Friends, do you know the way Noach was trying to make Ba'alei Teshuvas? He walks up to them and says 'Hey folks, you are disgusting!You are sinners! You are perverted! You are no good! Thank G-d, He is planning to wipe you out!' My beautiful friends, this doesn't help. It doesn't help, gevalt it doesn't help. Throwing stones doesn't help, preaching doesn't help.
So the mabul is called Mei Noach, the waters of Noach. Noach, why didn't you connect your generation to their souls Above? Do you know how our holy father Avraham made Ba'alei Teshuvahs? He never said a bad word to them. He mamesh invited them, he had a chassidishe farbrengen. He sat with them on Friday night, and he sat with them by a melaveh malka. Can you imagine the lowest creep, the lowest sinner, sitting and listening to Heilige Zeide Avraham Avinu? You swear to yourself, gevalt, this is holy. This is beautiful. I want to be like him. I want to be so holy. I want to be so exalted. I want to love people like Avraham does, I want to love G-d like Avraham does.
There's a Torah from the Heilige Dzhikover. Everybody knows that Moshe Rabbeinu was a little bit the neshama of Noach. After the Golden Calf, G-d says to Moshe 'Go down and tell the Yidden I'm going to wipe them out' (Shemos 32:10). Moshe Rabbeinu says to G-d 'Mecheini Na Misfrecha' (Shemos 32:32). I refuse; don't wipe them out. If you want to wipe somebody out, wipe me out!
So the Dzhikover says 'M'cheyni' is the same letters as 'Mei Noach'. Mei Noach is the waters of Noach. The flood is called the waters of Noach because he didn't pray for his generation. So by saying I'm ready to be wiped out for my generation, Moshe Rabbeinu fixed what Noach didn't do for his generation. So here I just want to add those few words.
G-d says to Moshe ( ibid 32:10) 'Go down and tell the Yidden they will be wiped out.' Moshe Rabbeinu says 'I refuse. I'm not making Ba'alei Teshuvahs by telling Yidden they will be wiped out. Master of the World, if You want to wipe somebody out, wipe me out. I only want to tell Yidden good things.'
You know what Moshe Rabbeinu does? He goes down and he breaks the tablets (ibid 32:19). Do you know what he did?
You know my beautiful friends, when Moshe Rabbeinu broke the tablets, he showed Yidden 'Look at what you are doing, look at how you are breaking the world. Look at how you are breaking your hearts and the hearts of your children's lives. If you're not doing what G-d wants for you, if you are not doing what G-d needs of you, you are mamesh breaking apart everything holy and beautiful in the world'.
Friends, we mamesh need people to talk to the generation. We need people to talk to Israel, but we don't need someone to tell them 'I'll wipe you out'. We don't need people to tell them 'Gevalt, you're terrible. You don't keep kosher, you don't keep Shabbos'.
Friends, if I could have my way....
Moshe Rabbeinu came down and brought us the Ten Commandments, but do you know what happens after that? We couldn't look at him, Ki Keren Or Panav - a brilliant light shone from his face (Shmos 34:29). We realized whatever he tells us is only a fraction of what he really heard in Heaven. Gevalt, he heard so much.
So here I want you to know something: What did Moshe Rabbeinu hear in Heaven which he really didn't tell us? He kind of told us, but not really. He heard the whole Torah SheB'al Peh, the Oral Law.
Here I want you to open your hearts: Torah SheBichsav, the Written Law, is what G-d dictated to Moshe during the day. Every night, humanly speaking, G-d was sitting with Moshe and telling him what everything really means. Gevalt was it real. Moshe Rabbeinu came down and gave us Torah SheBichsav although deep, deep inside he understood everything, but the words were still hidden away.
I want you to know something awesome.
When did Moshe Rabbeinu give over to us this inside?
G-d says 'I'll wipe out the Yidden' (ibid 32:19), 'I'll wipe out the Yidden and you will be the only one alive.' So Moshe Rabbeinu says, 'If you wipe out all the Yidden, Mecheinei Na, then wipe me out from your book.' The way it's translated is 'take me out from the Torah', but here all the Rebbes say the same thing.
'Mecheini' is the words 'Mei Noach', the waters of Noach.
Everybody knows Moshe Rabbeinu had a nitzotz, a little spark, of Noach in him. So what was Noach's fixing? Noach didn't pray for his generation and Moshe Rabbeinu said if you wipe them out, wipe me out of your Torah. Awesome! 'Mecheini', 'Mei Noach'.
You see how deep this is; this was when Moshe Rabbeinu gave over to every Yidele what the Torah is really all about
A Window to The Parsha By Reb Leibish Hundert
There is an amazing teaching from the Malbim on Psalms 93 (the song of the day for Yom Shishi- Friday.)
He speaks about the relationship between nature and miracles.
The Malbim emphasizes the great wonder (peleh gadol) in the way that Hashem makes miracles while at the very same time Hashem keeps nature going:
Hashem malach ge'ut lavesh- Hashem's expression of royalty is through garbing in greatness, which signifies miracles, and the great wonder is in Hashem's power that He is also garbed in- Lavesh Hashem oz hitazar - which is expressed in His awesome ability to keep nature going at the same time as the miracles - af tikon tevel bal timot- He also keeps the world from faltering.
It seems to me that if we would try to find physical record of any miracle, it may well be that we wouldn't find it. This may be because the natural world keeps going at the very same time as the miracle, as if there were no miracle, and the miracle will not make any impression upon the natural world, long term. Miracles, as the Malbim writes, tend to be short lived.
Our Sages (Midrash Rabbah, brought in Rashi to Bereishit 8:22) teach us that during the flood, the constellations and the sun and moon did not "function." It seems to me that during that highly miraculous time, Hashem was cradling humanity and the animal kingdom, in a very special way, which most probably cannot be tracked or measured with any scientific instruments. Whatever did remain of nature during the flood remained within the normal functioning of nature, and simply resumed on a grander scale when the flood ended.
But then there is a whole other level, called kedushah, holiness.
Kedushah might also be able to be translated, based on the Malbim to 93:5, as meaning togetherness:
Eidosecha ne'emnu me'od, leveischah na'avah kodesh, Hashem l'orech yamim. Your testimonial teachings are much more loyal to their Source than any miracles, [even when the miracles are done wondrously together with nature.] For they testify that You are with us, and wish to dwell among us, in your beautiful holy home, long term.
This is a level of togetherness that is beyond all issues of dealing with "the system" of nature. May we see that home built and dwelled within soon, in our day.
אוצר רב שלום - Reb Sholom's Treasures
B”H we have a holy Torah, Hashem’s gift to all of Israel. In the holy Torah, Hashem is telling us holy stories. These stories, says Reb Nachman from Bratslav, are about you and me. This is Hashem’s loving way of helping us to be forever connected to Him, and to each other. These stories are Hashem’s loving way of teaching us and helping us to improve and develop our ‘selves’, to really be our true, beautiful shining holy ‘selves’.
We live in an extremely turbulent wolrd, the mighty waves toss us and fling us around and around, up and down, confusing our vision and words, hardening our hearts, causing us to walk about in drunken stupor, as if we have forgten who we are, why we are here and where lie our goals. Through these stories, Hashem is teaching us what we need to know for our survival and success, so that we wont ‘drown in the flood’, so that the turbulence of , will not leave us unbalanced, chas v’shalom. Rebbe Nachman, zt”l, said that one who does not find his place [one’s ‘self’] in the Torah’s holy stories, does not yet understand the story. So let us enter this week’s parsha, at least for a few moments.
Hashem said to Noach, “Come into the ark”.
Let us too, enter the ark. We are getting closer and closer. There is so much going on. And there it is, the ark. It is very large, yet so small.
In this holy ark, the world will survive. Noach and his family, all manner of wildlife, you and me.
There are three levels. On top, the human family. In the middle, animals and wildlife, at the bottom, human and animal waste.
In order to survive, we must learn how to relate with each level of life.
On the first level, we encounter our relationships with ourselves, with one another, with our families, with our children, with our friends, with our soulmates. We must recognize that our survival depends on our being a real and loving family. If we cannot learn how to really unite as one, within our families, how can we expect to live in peace with the many families on earth? We need to learn all that it takes to truly and sincerely help each to live a full and meaningful enriching life.
Then, we must also realize that the wildlife is very much a part of our world. We must not cause pain to living creatures. There is much to learn from the animal kingdom. Animals teach us very much about how to serve Hashem. But most of all, Hashem wants us to be kind beings. Hashem wants us to live on this planet as loving and generous people. We need to practice kindness with the entire creation.
In the ark, the miniature world, we carried our waste along with us. Our waste has to be dealt with properly. It does not simply disappear from the planet, which is our present ark. In our lives, we can be reborn, so to speak. We can be renewed. But we cannot ignore our waste, neither physical or emotional or spiritual. What we do with it, how we deal with it, will affect the wellbeing of our future physical and spiritual lives.
Elevated Cheshvan - Let the Blessings Rain Down!:
This week, Tuesday and Wednesday, was Rosh Chodesh (the first day of the Jewish month of) Cheshvan. This month is referred to as "Mar Cheshvan" by our Rabbis. While "Mar" does mean "bitter" in Hebrew, and some people think Cheshvan could be a bitter month for its lack of holidays... in Aramaic, the language of the Talmud, "Mar" actually means "Rainy" - the Rabbis referred to this month as the one in which blessed rain begins to fall in the Holy Land!
On Shemini Atzeres, we began to pray for rain. So for now until Pesach, we add in the second blessing of the Amidah which acknowledges the strength of HaShem, that HaShem is "Mashiv HaRuach UMorid HaGeshem" - "the One Who Causes the Wind to Blow and the Rain to Come Down". This is an appropriate thing to acknowledge at the beginning of the fall season - which Sukkos and Shemini Atezeres mark - since the success of the crops (and thus our sustenance) depends greatly on rain at this time.
Our Sages teach that this phrase can be interpreted on a deeper level as well, which is also appropriate for this time of year. The phrase "Mashiv HaRuach UMorid HaGeshem" can be read as: HaShem is "Meishiv HaRuchnius UMorid HaGashmius" - "the One Who Restores our Spirituality and Causes Physical Abundance to Come Down". After such a beautiful and prayerful time as the High Holy Days and the Festival of Sukkos, Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah where we have been working so hard on ourselves to improve, making things right with each other, asking HaShem to bless us with so many good things for the New Year, rejoicing in the Torah - after this special time, it may feel a little empty to now go back to "regular" daily life. But we have a simple phrase to add in to our tefilos every day to remind us of all we've accomplished and all we yearn for - that phrase is "Mashiv HaRuach UMorid HaGeshem". HaShem is the One Who restores our spirituality and blesses us with all we need physically - every single day. May we all be greatly blessed this year b'ruchnius uvegashmius - spiritually and physically!
Our Rebbe, Reb Shlomo Carlebach ztz"l, would refer to this month as Ram Cheshvan - "Elevated Cheshvan" - (Ram and Mar are spelled the same, but with the letters reversed) as per the B'nei Yissaschar's teaching. What's so elevated about Cheshvan? It is still a month without holidays after all. The idea is that with the insight, the inspiration, the teshuva, the spirituality and so much more that we worked on and cultivated during Tishrei, we are now in a strong and elevated place where we can generate the connection and holiness from down here. We can make it a time of happiness and celebration on our own now.
No wonder our Rebbe's yahrtzeit is in this month (on the 16th of Cheshvan). He makes sure to remind us every year of the renewed ability we have to elevate ourselves and connect to HaShem and each other, and cause the blessings to rain down on us .