Your earliest self-knowledge is of a being immersed in water.

You were one with your environment: you were mother and mother was you, you were the universe and the universe was yourself. There was no I, she, it or that, for all being was one.

Then came the day when you were thrust out from the enveloping waters. Distinctiveness and identity were conferred upon you, and your oneness with your source became a vestige of a memory. You now revel in your apartness, your ego a shield, wresting sustenance and purpose from an environment that is distinct of yourself and which you share and compete over with like-armored others.

But the memory remains. And when the strangeness of your world becomes too much to bear, and the loneliness of your battle too heavy to carry, you seek solace in your watery past. The memory of the womb comforts you, reassuring you that you are not truly alone, that underneath it all you are one with the universe, with your creator.

On the face of it, the Torah's account of Noah's Flood tells the tragic tale of a corrupt generation eradicated from the face of the earth. But an axiom of Chassidic teaching — particularly as expressed in the writings and talks of the Lubavitcher Rebbe — is that every word of Torah, at its core, is a gem of unadulterated goodness. Our world is a place where negativity and even outright evil may occur, and the Torah, which addresses and describes our world, reflects this. But as our Sages tell us, the Torah precedes the world, precedes creation; in its quintessential state, the Torah's every story and law has a positive meaning.

In essence, Noah's Flood is the earth's immersion in the mikvah of divine knowledge, in the womb of primordial oneness. And though the earth eventually emerged from the Flood's waters, the memory remains in its soil and stones, in its trees and clouds, and in every living being that crawls or walks upon it. Never is our world too distant, too apart, too alienated, to draw on this memory of total submersion within the all-embracing totality of its Creator.