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ב"ה

Is life hard?

Friday, 23 October, 2020 - 3:31 pm

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“Life is hard.” Anyone ever told that to you when you were having a tough time? Didn’t help make it any easier, did it? 

“Think that’s bad, you wouldn’t believe what happened to me!” This one may be an even worse response. Hearing about other people’s troubles doesn’t make yours any easier to cope with, right?

So what can help us through the tough times? What can help us overcome, rather than be overwhelmed? What can empower us to achieve our goals even after we’ve been knocked down?

The answer is embedded in this week’s Torah portion, Noah.

You might have learnt the narrative of The Great Deluge recounted in this week’s portion as some sort of fairy tale, you might view it as an entertaining movie; however it’s included in the Torah and is therefore not only accurate but perhaps more importantly - a valuable lesson for us. 

Whatever the case, you really should see in it the story of your life.

Think about it - in the beginning there was this idealistic, perfect world. Everything was wonderful for a while but over time reality set in, human nature went awry until it came to the point that G-d decided to completely reset the whole thing. He brought the flood and destroyed the world; save Noah, his family and a sampling of all animal life.

Then, after Noah exited the ark, G-d told him something very strange. G-d promised never to do it again; never again will G-d destroy the world. G-d even made a covenant with Noah regarding it - He showed Noah the sign of the rainbow as His way of remembering this covenant.

Let me ask you a simple question however - why should this time be different? It would seem that G-d is (so to speak) being a little naive. I mean, how can we know how things will be in a few generations? Maybe 10 generations down the line humanity will have once again deteriorated to the point that destruction will once again be necessary?! Why would G-d pledge to never again destroy the world? If it happened once, couldn’t it happen again?

Here’s the point - initially G-d created the world on His terms according to His high standards; it wasn’t fully aligned with the reality of the fallible human beings that inhabited it. After the flood, the world was recalibrated as it were to fit with humanity. This newly aligned world wasn’t under threat of being destroyed because it took into account the possibility for mistakes to happen and it included a contingency for when they would.

In other words, the world as it was initially created, in it’s idealistic state, wasn’t viable and needed to be reset. The world after the flood integrated the G-dly ideal in a way that was - and still is - sustainable.

What emerges from this understanding is that in truth, the narrative of The Great Deluge is not one of destruction and devastation - it’s primary message is one of hope and inspiration: there is purpose in the setbacks. There is long term success embedded in short term failure.

Being told that life is hard doesn’t make it easier to overcome the hardship; being told about other people’s challenges doesn’t make it easier to overcome your own. But finding the lesson and meaning in the setbacks - that gives us the ability to create a long term model of success. 

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