Enjoy four short thoughts and a video adapted from the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe on Parshat Noach

Luminous Matter vs Black Holes

Noah's Flood commenced on the 17th of Cheshvan in the year 1656 from creation, and ended on Cheshvan 27 of the following year.

Noah’s Flood lasted exactly one solar year, the 11-day discrepancy in the Hebrew dates represents the 11-day difference between the solar and lunar years.

The sun and the moon represent the two sides of a dichotomy which bisects virtually every aspect of our existence. Light and darkness are oft metaphoric for the divine and mundane.

The sun is a luminous body while the moon is a dark lump of matter. Both serve us as sources of light — the difference is that the former is self-generated, while the moon illuminates by receiving and reflecting the light of the sun. Spirituality is a direct effusion of divine light. But by necessity and design however, much of our life is "lunar," comprised of the "dark matter" of non-holy pursuits.

Dark matter, though, is not a black hole. When making a living, one need not be consumed by utter Epicurean lust. Our moon/dark matter serves as a conduit of light. It is all a matter of positioning. Placed in the proper context, the material involvements of life can serve as facilitators of divine truth to places which, in and of themselves, are not in the "direct line" of spirituality and holiness. Our dark side is blackened no longer. For our calendar insists that we incorporate both systems of self in our time-trajectory: that we should cultivate a solar side as well as lunar— a material life which reflects and projects our other, spiritual self.
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The Sign of a Leader

This week’s Torah reading is named Noach, the Hebrew for Noah. The name Noach refers to satisfaction and repose.

The Torah portion repeats the name Noah twice in the first verse. The Zohar, the fundamental text of Jewish mysticism, explains that this is not redundant. Noah - and by extension, every one of his descendants - was intended to spread satisfaction and repose in two spheres: among his fellows and in the spiritual worlds.

Our Sages explain that Noah lived an insular existence. 120 years before the flood, G‑d told him to warn the people of his generation of the impending retribution and motivate them to improve their conduct.

Noah began building the ark. If anyone would ask him why, he explained: “The world is filled with corruption; this has enraged G‑d, and He is going to bring a flood.” Noah did not extend himself to seek out people and communicate with them.

A leader is not supposed to be merely a model of excellent conduct. A leader should lead; he should take people with him. That’s the kind of repose and satisfaction which Noah was supposed to generate. He should have infused the lives of the people around him with depth and meaning to allow them to define the purpose for their existence.
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The Importance of the 'Trivial'

The beginning of this week’s Torah reading relates how G‑d tells Noah that since he was righteous, he and his family would be saved. Although all mankind would be punished for their wickedness, Noah and his descendants would not perish. For that purpose, Noah was instructed to build an ark in order to withstand the flood.

Noah spent the entire year in the ark feeding and caring for the many animals.

Herein lies a fundamental lesson. No person exists for himself. We were created for service.The Jewish ideal is not a world where “the righteous sit crowned with their knowledge.” That is a description of the World to Come, the afterlife, where the souls bask in divine light. However, until a person reaches that state, he must work.

We have all been given a mission — to prepare the world to be a dwelling for G‑d. And to be complete, that dwelling must encompass every element of creation. Therefore every element of our environment is important and deserving of our concern and attention.
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The Birth of Abraham

Our Torah reading concludes with the birth of Abraham whose recognition of G‑d at age 48 would initiate the third millennium. The third supernal quality is Tiferes, “beauty.” The Kabbalists explain that beauty results from the fusion of opposites. How do opposites come together? When they are motivated by the revelation of a quality that surpasses them both. As our Sages state, G‑d “creates peace in the high places;” His transcendent influence brings about harmony between Michael, the archangel of water, and Gabriel, the archangel of fire.

Thus on the third day of creation, the expression “And G‑d saw that it is good” is mentioned twice, for the third day consummated and brought out the positive dimension of the division of the waters of the second day. And on the third day, the first forms of life, an expression of G‑d’s transcendence, were brought into being.

These motifs were given full expression in the third millennium which featured the Giving of the Torah which, as our Rabbis state, “was given solely to establish peace in the world.” And it concluded with the construction of the First Temple in which G‑d’s infinite presence became manifest in the physical world.
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Universal Mission

G‑d did not create the world for there to be chaos, but for peaceful civilization.” This unified purpose for mankind lies at the heart of the Seven Noahide Laws, which preceded even the Giving of the Torah.Many teachings in Torah speak to non-Jews, even if they are not clearly included in the Seven Noahide Laws. If it is a matter which speaks to the innate moral reasoning of a human being, then it applies to them as well: