Parshat Noach talks about the Great Flood, the powerful waters that destroyed all living things on the earth.

What positive lesson can we take from the flood, and why is this read directly after the holidays?

In Song of Songs, we read: "Many waters cannot extinguish the love and rivers cannot flood it."1 This is talking about the love we have for G‑d, the hidden, essential love embedded deep inside every Jew, known as the “Pintele Yid”.

This love is compared to a fire hidden inside a coal, as the previous verse says: "her coals are coals of fire of a great flame."2 When you look at a coal, you don't see a flame, but inside the coal, the fire burns strong. It is also compared to a flint, which can be submerged underwater for years, but when struck, fire flames outward.

What are these "many waters" that fail to extinguish this inner fire? And what are the "rivers" that fail to flood it?

One explanation is that the many waters refer to the worries and hardships that we incur while trying to earn a living,3 which is simply intrinsic to the world we live in. And the rivers are when these worries, thoughts and pressures don't let up, like the strong current of a river.

Although these worries and hardships are constant, they can't extinguish the hidden love in the depths of our souls. Why not?

To understand this, we must take a deeper look at ourselves and the reason we are in this world of constant worries.

Before they entered this physical world, our souls were in a pristine, holy state. One may ask: What gain is there for the soul to come down here and be involved in this lowly, troublesome place? We must conclude that by making the descent into this world, the soul attains higher levels of holiness and G‑dly revelation upon its return to its Heavenly abode. It is a descent for a greater ascent.

This is similar to taking a short-term loss for a long-term gain. Many understand the value of living with discomfort for a while, as they build themselves up financially. They do it with joy because they realize that this is the path to their goal.

The struggles we contend with are there to help us attain the purpose of our descent into this world. And when we realize that, we start looking at our struggles differently; we begin to see them in a positive light.

Since the "many waters" are here for our benefit, they could never extinguish the love we have for G‑d, because that is the opposite of their purpose.

Prior to its descent into the world, the soul is like a tzadik4 “righteous person” However, by descending into this turbulent world and doing G‑d's will, it attains the status of a baal teshuvah “returnee to G‑d”. Our sages say: "in the place where baal teshuvah stands, complete tzadikim are not able to stand,"5 because through their struggle, they attain a level of holiness far greater than that of a tzadik.

With this in mind, we start to take our struggles in stride. We begin to see them as the path to our goals and not as the enemy. The struggles make us stronger and refine us. The struggles bring us closer to G‑d. He put us here specifically to contend with this struggle-filled world. But when you understand that it is all from G‑d and it is all purposeful, it is no longer a struggle. You will embrace it with joy and with a spring in your step, knowing that on the other side of this struggle is the goal you were created to achieve.

Now we can appreciate why the story of the flood is read right after the holidays. The holidays are like heaven, as we celebrate with G‑d and enjoy the holiness of the time. Now, with the holidays behind us, we reenter the world of struggles. Now we need a reminder that the turbulent waters of making a living and dealing with the struggles of life are not there to hurt us, but to help us accomplish our purpose.6

May our efforts to do G‑d's will be successful, and may His will be realized, as we usher in Moshiach. May he come soon.