The Midrash explains that the word "bul" is connected to the word "mabul,"
meaning flood . The Torah tells us that the flood actually began in the
month of Cheshvan. The waters of the flood rose and raged unabated for forty
days, the pasuk tells us. This is alluded to by the letter mem, the first
letter of the word mabul, which corresponds numerically with the number 40.
Thus, in the word "mabul," we have "mem" (40) followed by "bul," flood,
connoting that the flood rained down for forty days.
The word "bul" in modern Hebrew actually means a stamp. But the etymological
core of the word denotes its ability to transform the appearance of an
object, erasing its original shape and enabling it to assume a completely
different image. This is what took place during the Great Flood, when Hashem
destroyed the world to make room for the development of a new, more upright
The commentaries point out that Torah begins with the letter bais and ends
with the letter lamed. The Talmud teaches us that at the very epicenter of
the Torah is a vov. These three letters (bais, vov, lamed ) spell "bul."
This alludes to the powerful properties of the Torah which was given to
Moses during his forty day encounter with Hashem on Mt. Sinai. Embedded in
the Torah is a powerful transformative force which when harnessed, empowers
an individual to erase his negative character traits and build himself into
a spiritually rejuvenated and renewed person.
This concept has special relevance to the cycle of festivals through which
we have just passed. The powerful effect of Rosh Hashana helped us elevate
ourselves to a higher calling. Yom Kippur purged and cleansed us of our
weaknesses and foibles. Succos fortified our faith and drew us into Hashem's
embrace through our sojourn in the succah. Simchas Torah cemented our
spiritual growth by granting us the opportunity to express our love for the
Torah in an outpouring of joy and energy. That prolonged cycle of spiritual
ascension assures that the transformative journey that we have launched will
be sustained through the year.
We too live in a generation similar to Noach's. Pernicious influences swirl
about us, and the allure of the material world constantly threatens to
engulf and silence the yearnings of our neshama.
The Torah is the antidote to the corrosive forces that impinge upon us. With
its uplifting, restorative energies we can ennoble ourselves immeasurably.
As the crowning point of creation, a Jew represents the nexus between Heaven
and Earth, with each force struggling for dominance over man's soul. The
hidden letters of "Bul" that link the beginning, middle and end of the Torah
encourage us to immerse ourselves in the purifying waters of Torah, to
counteract the flood waters of decadence that threaten to suck us in.
Let us take care to ensure that our embrace of the Torah is complete and
that we move on to deepen and secure our connection to the Torah's ennobling
power. Only thus can we continue to expand our personal growth and our
ability to reach heights we never thought possible.