Rabbi's Weekly Message

A Message from Rabbi Peltz ~ Thursday, October 11

The beginning of the Torah cycles back and forth between chaos and order. At the very beginning, we are told that the universe is tohu va’vohu, unformed and void, until God brings order with the creation of light. Not long after this, the first human beings, Adam and Eve, eat from the tree and that order is disrupted as they are banished from the Garden of Eden. They reassert order, learning how to till the soil and having children, and then Cain kills his brother Abel. Chaos strikes again. Yet order is restored once again, as people have children, and continue to populate and build up the world. And then we get to our parashah for this Shabbat, Noah, where hamas, lawlessness (chaos by a different name) rules. God can’t take it anymore, and essentially says, “You want chaos? I’ll give you chaos!” and brings the flood. The whole world is covered in water, and it is only Noah, his family, and the animals who are saved. Noah is tasked with bringing order back into this chaotic world by beginning again. And he does. These opening stories of the book of Bereishit are a reflection on what inevitability happens in our world and in our lives. We too experience periods of order, of calm and clarity, where things make sense, but we also experience periods of chaos, where we can feel overwhelmed, stressed, and confused. When this happens, Noah’s example is instructive. Despite all the chaos, he still built a boat, boarded it, and moved forward. Noah didn’t just hope that the chaos would pass and that order would be restored, he also expressed that hope through his actions. He lived that hope when he stepped onto the ark. As we encounter chaos in our lives and in our world – chaos embodied by loss, by injustice, by hatred, by Anti-Semitism – we remember these opening chapters of Torah. Life will give us both chaos and order. Like Noah, we still need to get on the boat.

Shabbat Shalom.