Parshot Festivals

The ark’s timeless message

  • ParshaRabbiRichard
The world had become corrupt during Noah’s time. It had reached the point where G-d had to hit the reset button – destroy the world in its entirety, and begin anew with Noah and his family.
by Rabbi Rodney Richard, Emmarentia Shul | Oct 22, 2020

The floodwaters functioned like the purifying waters of a mikveh (ritual bath), cleansing and purifying the world of its impurity. Noah was secluded in the ark, which protected him from the contamination of the earth and ensured that no vestige of the impurities of the old world would enter and influence the new world Noah was to build.

Judaism isn’t a religion of seclusion. The Jewish people are charged with being a “light unto the nations”, which by definition can be achieved only when we are part of society and able to influence it positively. To be proponents of tikkun olam (repairing and uplifting the world), we have to be very much engaged with the world around us and prepared to get a little bit sullied at times in the process.

However, there are times when we must enter the proverbial ark and separate ourselves completely from the impurities of the day. We need to be acutely aware which waters we can swim in and conquer, and which to steer clear of. There are certain areas that should always remain out of bounds to us.

The Torah teaches us to distance ourselves from an evil neighbour, yet we have the commandment to uplift and help others who have veered from the correct path. There is, thus, a tension or struggle between being negatively influenced by others, and being a positive influence on others. This is where we need to be honest with ourselves and about our abilities, and learn to be selective in our G-dly missions.

What is certain is that, as parents, it’s incumbent upon us to protect our children from the deluge of inappropriate stimuli constantly flooding them which we know to be spiritually damaging. While we strive to give our children an education that allows them to broaden their horizons, we should be mindful of those horizons towards which they should never be gazing.

We need constantly to ask ourselves if what we or our children are consuming is aligned with the teachings of Torah and the values it espouses. It’s interesting to note that the Hebrew word for “ark” is teiva, which is also Hebrew for “word”.

The words of Torah should always guide us in navigating the safest journey for ourselves and those we love.

Good Shabbos and safe travels!

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