Different, Not Divine

CHAZAL (our sages) tell us that the decree of the flood came upon the world as a result of the rampant robbery and oppression that stemmed from unbridled jealousy and hatred.  God sets His bow in the heaven as a covenant between Him and earth.
But why a rainbow?  The rainbow is composed of seven colors, each different from the other.  Yet, it possesses a magnificent, harmonious appearance.  This teaches us that even though man’s thoughts and characters are different, it is possible for human beings to achieve peace and brotherhood.  Not everything that is discrepant must result in dispute and controversy.  On the contrary; it is the contrast of the different colors in the bow that produces its splendid beauty.
When Avraham confided in God that he was concerned about his descendancy, God assured him that not only will his descendents be from his own offspring (and not from his servants), but they also will be of good character, like the stars.  Using the example of stars, God concretely illustrated the ideal, reciprocal relationship that should exist between men.  Just as the colors of the rainbow are different from one another, the stars are also different:; yet there exists a beautiful harmony among its multitude.  And like the stars, there should be love, peace and unity between men in an effort to serve God.
When the Jews left Egypt, God sanctified them.  He showed Moshe the silver crescent of the moon and told him, “Look out for this reappearance and consecrate the beginning of your months.”  The Maharal explains that Israel is compared to the moon insofar as the moon renews itself.  Israel is commanded to take notice of the fresh birth of the moon and consequently undergo a similar spiritual and moral rejuvenation.
God’s wishes for a cohesive, peaceful and harmonious society and urges us to hone our goals and behaviors, both as individuals and as members of society.  The first perspective exemplified by the bow expands the view that man was created with a uniform societal goal.  It is not individuality that is important but, rather, mankind’s value as a group.  The second dimension addresses the role of man as an individual (only after society’s conditions are satisfied).  Just as each star has a unique shape, consistency and energy, every person was created with different bodies, talents and inclinations.  Man must recognize that his very “uniqueness” creates a goal or mission that only he can fulfill.  Lastly, the third dimension of the moon, with its perpetual renewal, teaches us that men – both as individuals and members of a group – must constantly pursue higher spirituality through learning, self-discipline and refinement of behaviors.

From the Torah to Your Table
The Torah does not say, “And Noah, a righteous and wholehearted man was left,” but simply, “Noah only was left.”  (Bereshit 7:23)  The Midrash states that Noah, by doing nothing to persuade his contemporaries to mend their ways, committed a sin.  He who does not act to make others better descends to a lower level himself.  When Noah found that he and his family were the only survivors of the flood, he understood that he was Noah “only.”  He was filled with a sense of inadequacy, because he had done nothing to save the others from their fate.

OCTOBER 2013
TISHRI-CHESHVAN 5774
Candle Lighting Times
and Torah Portions

Friday, October 4
Light candles at 6:15 p.m.
Saturday, October 5
Torah Portion: Noah
(Genesis 6:9-11:32)
Friday, October 11
Light candles at 6:05 p.m.
Saturday, October 12
Torah Portion: Lech Lecha
(Genesis 12:1-17:27)
Friday, October 18
Light candles at 5:57 p.m.
Saturday, October 19
Torah Portion: Vayera
(Genesis 18:1-22:24)
Friday, October 25
Light candles at 5:49 p.m.
Saturday, October 26
Torah Portion: Chayei Sarah
(Genesis 23:1-25:18)

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