This week happens to be the week of my birthday, and so naturally I have always felt an affinity with this week’s portion of Noach – the story of Noah and the ark. There is endless wisdom contained within this portion, and each year that I study from it, I find new things. This year, I’d like to share with you three important lessons from which I think all of us could benefit. I hope they resonate with you, as they have resonated with me.
It is my birthday wish that each of you are able to take at least one thing from these teachings and internalize it this week, that your life should be made better by it, and that the world is made better as a result.
1. Develop empathy for all of humanity.
Although Noah was certainly diligent in carrying out the Creator's instructions to build the Ark and gather the animals, he did not plead to God for the rest of the people in the world to be saved (as Moses did, for example). What a powerful lesson this is! When someone tells us their family member is sick or that someone is in pain, do we really attempt to feel their situation? When we hear of an individual in difficulty, do we extend ourselves to help improve their situation? The portion of Noah reminds us that to be spiritual is to be conscious of both the Creator and the many people in our lives.
2. See the Light… in Everyone.
The Midrash discusses that Noah carefully made sure to feed each and every animal on the ark. For us, this is a reminder of the power we have to be aware of the Light in every living being – from the fly at our breakfast table to the family dog, and from the loved ones we hold so dear to the homeless person we pass on the street. The more we can recognize and appreciate the Divine in all things, the more we will experience divinity in our day to day lives.
3. Appreciating the Zohar, and the power of unity.
Over the years I have heard so many miracle stories about the power of the Zohar, the book of ancient wisdom from which all kabbalistic knowledge derives. For instance, I once heard a beautiful story of a couple whose baby had been pronounced deaf after not only one but two separate tests. Before the third test, however, they received a Zoharfrom a friend, and then sat together and studied it. Came the third test, and guess what?The hearing was normal. That's a wow, right? But the wow is not the miracle. The wow is the Zohar. The wow is its teachings. The wow is the unity – the friendship that inspired the giving of the Zohar, and the care from one person to another that enabled such a miracle to take place. You know, one string is very easy to break. But if you have a hundred strings together, you'll never be able to break that. It is the binding of all of us together that creates these miracles. That’s why, when Rav Berg and I set out to build Kabbalah Centres around the world, we did so not just so that they would become places of learning, but also places of friendship. We may face challenges in life, but as long as we are bound together in unity, as long as we have a community of friends, there will always be another set of hands to help see us through the storms.
Although these three teachings can be gleamed from this week’s portion, I believe one can benefit from applying them to their lives any day of the week, any week of the month, any month of the year.
As long as we breathe, we have a purpose, and that purpose is to ignite that divine spark of the Creator that exists inside of ourselves, and to make the world a better place. In this, my birthday week, it is my prayer that we should all find that place of purpose and reach such a goal.