Torah Fax

Friday, October 15, 2004 - 30 Tishrei, 5765

Torah Reading: Noach (Genesis 6:9 - 11:32)
Candle Lighting time: 5:56 PM
Shabbat ends: 6:55 PM

A Piece of Peace

Our Parshah of Noach discusses two tragedies that befell  the world before the birth of Abraham. The first catastrophe was the Flood that destroyed the entire world population except for Noah, his family and the animals he took with him on the ark. The second tragedy was the destruction of the Tower of Babel and the subsequent dispersion of the inhabitants of Babel to the four corners of the world.

Since the Torah tells us of these two tragedies immediately before introducing us to Abraham, the spiritual and physical progenitor of the Jewish nation, it makes sense to say that Abraham would be able to remedy the two forms of evil that are connected with these two tragedies.

To appreciate the role of Abraham in countering these two negative energies, let us first analyze the two forms of evil that prevailed in the world at the time of the Flood and of the Tower of Babel.

The Torah tells us that the Flood was a result of the degenerate state of the people of the world. Robbery and thievery prevailed. People had no respect for each other's property. Ironically, the generation of the Tower of Babel set out to remedy this very problem. They attempted to build a city with a magnificent tower where all would live together in peace - thus guaranteeing that they would never fall victim to the divisiveness of their "antediluvian" ancestors. Unity was their motto - yet G‑d was not pleased, why?

Unity is a wonderful trait. It is the vessel with which we receive all blessings. Our sages declare, "if there is peace there is everything." Yet there was something seriously flawed with the pursuit for peace attempted by the builders of the Tower of Babel.

There is a passage in the Talmud that discusses the ability of Torah scholars to bring peace to the world. Interestingly, this passage is repeated no less than four different places in the Talmud! The 19th century commentator, Aruch LaNer, explains that these four references to peace correspond to four different applications of true peace. The four levels are: peace between one person and another, between husband and wife, between a person ad G‑d and between one's body and one's soul. By making this statement four times, are sages are implying that true peace can only work if it is pursued on all four of these levels.

To begin with, peace must begin with a healthy relationship with G‑d. Through such a G‑dly connection, we can appreciate our own G‑dly nature, embodied in our soul, and we can endeavor to create a positive connection between our body and our soul. By extension, we can also recognize that there is a G‑dly aspect to our marriage as well. Marriage is the foundation of the Jewish nation.  When a husband and wife living together harmoniously, they can become instruments of G‑dly energy. Through their establishing a G‑dly and holy home, they can bring untold joy and spirit to the world.

Finally, by focusing on the G‑dly aspect within ourselves and our world, we can come to the realization that the things that may divide us from our fellow are quite trivial and superficial. By accentuating the spiritual, we are able to focus in on the underlying spiritual concerns that unite us, and we realize that all other matters dwarf in comparison.

We can now understand why the peace pursued by the Generation of the Tower was not enduring. Their unity was not based on an appreciation of the spiritual dimensions of their fellow human beings. In fact, their pursuit of peace was motivated by a desire for self glorification, as they said, "Let us make a name for ourselves."

Thus, while the Generation of the Flood rejected the very notion of kindness and concern for another, the Generation of the Tower tried to rectify that mistake with a misguided sense of unity. Only Abraham was able to see that at the core of a true and enduring peace there has to be a connection to G‑d and an appreciation of the G‑dly soul in everyone.

It may be for this reason that many prophecies about Moshiach revolve around the theme that we will all serve G‑d in a spirit of unity. Though the two concepts might seem unrelated - after all, can't one serve G‑d alone and can't one be united with his fellow at a time other than that of prayer? - we can now understand their connection. Since in the time of Moshiach, our understanding of G‑d will be at its peak, an extension of that will be a deep feeling of love for our fellow. Once we see creation from a G‑dly perspective, seeing the true value in all people will be soon to follow.
Moshiach Matters

Though the month of MarCheshvan has no holidays in it, the Midrash tells us that it is “owed” a holiday. Though King Solomon finished the building of the Temple in MarCheshvan, the inauguration was not celebrated until the following Tishrei.When Moshiach comes, G‑d will “pay back” MarCheshvan by making the inauguration of the Third Temple in it. Let us hope that it happens immediately at the beginning of the month! (The Rebbe)

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