In this week’s Parsha, the world is destroyed by a Flood.
Last week we read how G-d created the world. By Noach’s generation, however, the world had forgotten that He exists. It wasn’t just that mankind rebelled. It was worse than that. Hashem’s Existence was completely ignored.
Only Noach and his family remembered; only Noach and his family survived.
When people forget Hashem it is because they WANT to forget. Idols of wood and stone do not expect us to adhere to laws of proper behavior, but Hashem does. When mankind wants to live like animals, they intentionally “forget” Hashem.
When I met President George W. Bush in 2007, I told him why I thought he was receiving so much “flak” from the press. I said, “It is because you believe in G-d and embrace moral standards. Others, not on your level, want to pull you down, and that is why they criticize you.” (He clearly appreciated my words, and one of his aides later came to thank me for encouraging the President.)
Hashem expects us to “Judge the needy and the orphan, vindicate the poor and impoverished, rescue the needy and destitute, and deliver them from the hand of the wicked. [But the judges] do not know or understand; they walk in darkness; all foundations of the earth collapse.” (Tehillim 82)
Who are the “judges?” This is another name for the governments of the world. When governments judge lawlessly, the result is that “all foundations of the earth collapse.” The lawmakers who govern the nations, whether Jew or non-Jew, are responsible to subordinate themselves to the laws of Hashem.
When Hashem is ignored by the nations of the world, Hashem may withhold strict judgment for a time in order to allow them to do teshuva, but, at the moment he deems appropriate, judgment will be meted out, as it was in the Days of Noach. In the words of Dovid ha Melech, “When the wicked bloom like grass and all the doers of iniquity blossom, it is to destroy them until eternity….” (Tehillim 92)
Several years ago, we flew on Turkish Airlines from Baku to Istanbul. On the electronic map, the Country of Israel was missing! The world pretends Hashem does not exist; the world pretends Israel does not exist. When you want to pretend something doesn’t exist, you just delete it from the map. This is what is called “sticking your head in the sand.” People who don’t want Hashem to “interfere” in their lives simply act as if He doesn’t exist.
Today, the foundations are collapsing.
People are afraid to walk in cities; innocent people are attacked on the street and the judges free the attackers. Nations invade nations and threaten them with nuclear oblit-eration. Even the “stable” nations are tottering: Great Britain, once the seat of a vast empire, is in chaos. The queen has died and the government has fallen after only a few weeks.
There is no stability beside Torah. “Ain od milvado … there is nothing else.”
This week’s Parsha makes clear that adherence to the Torah is the prerequisite for the continued existence of the world. The avoda of the Children of Israel is to teach this truth to the world; all mankind is bound by adherence to the applicable Torah laws. “The existence of the world depends on Jews learning Torah. If a Jew learns Torah … he sustains the world and prevents its destruction.” (Rabbi Elchonen Wasserman zt”l)
On Pesach, Hashem brought the Children of Israel out from Mitzraim. We were at the bottom, spiritually and physically. Yetzias Mitzraim was a physical redemption. The spiritual redemption occurred at Har Sinai. By the time we complete the Yom Tov cycle and arrive at the Yom Tov of Sukkos, we have reached an exalted spiritual level at which all that exists is ruchnius, the Holy Torah, which we hold close to us and with which we dance.
The haters surround us, so we are required in the name of survival to keep this in mind at all times. If we live with Hashem in front of us, which is our constant challenge to live up to, then we may be able to survive the collapse of the surrounding nations and see the Final Redemption and the rebuilt Bais Hamikdosh.
It is not easy to achieve the spiritual level required for survival. It was not easy for Noach to withstand the taunts of those who mocked him when he built the teva. But he survived.
We also want to survive.
When all else collapses, we see clearly that there is only refuge. “Achas shoalti … one thing I asked of Hashem … to dwell in the House of Hashem all the days of my life.” (Tehillim 27)
Now, “Kol goyim savavuni … All the nations surround me. In the Name of Hashem I cut them down.” (Tehillim 118)
The Name of Hashem. That’s all there is.
Avoda: Holy task
Bais Hamikdosh: The Holy Temple
Dovid ha Melech: King David
Har Sinai: Mount Sinai
Yetzias Mitzraim: Exodus from Egypt
Yom Tov: Biblical Holiday