by Rabbi Chaim Dovid Green
TWe all relate to the misery we feel when we suffer from a cold. The
constant runny nose, sneezing, and fatigue tend to demand our attention and
remind us how really uncomfortable we feel. It has the ability and the
tendency to affect our whole attitude. Imagine receiving a phone call on
one of those miserable days with the news that you won a major lottery, and
you will have no financial worries for the rest of your life. I believe
that even under those unpleasant circumstances most of us would manage to
be full of cheer.
The question then is, why aren't we constantly ecstatic with our lives? We
all possess things which we would never sell for even the worth of the
highest lottery, so why don't we celebrate? I'm referring to the wonderful
gifts we receive every day. We wake up, we can see, we have mobility, we
can breath, digest, pass waste, and literally thousands of functions which
we take completely for granted without a thought. Aren't these functions
more vital to us than any sum of wealth? We know they are, because we have
all seen what it's like when some of these functions don't work correctly.
Yet we still often find reason to be disillusioned despite that fact that
we win the lottery in the biggest way each time we awake, and each time we
draw a breath.
Generally this comes from self-centeredness. The passage states as follows.
"For the inclination of the heart of man is evil from his youth" (Genesis
8:21). One interpretation explains that the word "from" in the passage
explains why the inclination of man's heart is evil. Man's inclination is
evil because of his youth. In other words, he refuses to grow up. Children
are born self-centered. It is normal and necessary. However, as we get
older we are expected to become other-centered. Marriage and children
facilitate that process. If we refuse to grow up, the old selfish habits
remain strong and we remain "takers" instead of "givers".
This was the problem before the time of the Great Deluge in the days of
Noach. "And G-d said to Noach, the end of all flesh has come before Me, for
the world is filled with corruption (Genesis 6:13)." Rashi explains that
this refers to robbery. Everyone was taking. Everyone felt that it was all
coming to him. The entire world was unfortunately a world of "takers." This
went directly against the purpose for which the world was created. "The end
of the world has _come_ before me. It was not G-d's retribution, but it was
a natural consequence of the deeds which that generation embraced. It came,
as it were, on its own.
G-d tells Noach to build an ark. It should be populated with every form of
life which existed on earth. All of their foods were stored aboard the ark.
Who had the job of feeding such a huge population of creatures? Noach and
his family did. Day and night Noach, his wife, his sons, and their wives,
fed animals. This went on for over a year. Why? Why couldn't G-d use an
alternative plan? Why was the survival of life made dependant on Noach and
his family working non-stop, day and night?
Rabbi Dessler explains that this was necessary for the survival of all
life. As we stated earlier, the basis of the sin of this generation was
selfishness. The only circumstances which could save the world was one in
which humankind in microcosm would exercise complete selflessness. These
were the circumstances which Noach and his family were placed in - such
that only their most basic needs could be addressed, and the animals' needs
would dominate. This was the wisdom behind the "mini-world" that was
created in the ark. This was the true fulfillment of the purpose of the
creation of the world, and it was the foundation upon which the new
post-deluge world would be built.
Text Copyright © 1998 Rabbi Dovid Green and
Project Genesis, Inc.