Noach, A Lesson In Proactivity ©
Bereishis 6:9 - 11:32

By Dr. Akiva Gamliel Belk

This study of the weekly parsha is dedicated in the loving memory of Mrs. Ethel Sakash Belk, my mother, may she rest in peace.

The wind was fierce! The waves seemed like they were a hundred feet high as they swept across our ship from the fo’c’sle to the fantail. Our ship rocked from starboard to port, shaking ferociously as we encountered wave after wave after wave crashing and smashing against us! Large six by six wooden deck planks were ripped away by the waves with little effort. Our ship’s boarding and exiting ladder was viciously torn from its place and carried off into the depths of the ocean. Shipmates were tossed to and fro as well as the ship’s cargo. The enormous screw that propelled our ship was often lifted up out of the water by huge waves as the fo’c’sle at the other end of the ship dipped deep into an ocean valley. At times one could stand with their face only a few feet from the deck due to the incredible motion of the ship. Where I worked pots, pans, spoons, whips and other galley utensils went flying through the air as our ship sunk into one of these vast ocean valleys.

This was one of four typhoons I experienced at sea. A typhoon is an unnerving, soul shaking experience that can last for days at a time. The motion of vast ocean waves and clouds mixed with torrential rain is unspeakable. Knowing this I cannot imagine what it would be like to experience a worldwide decimating flood as in the days of Noach!!

A flood is such a violent force capable of moving everything in its path. Its path is one of absolute destruction! Where can one run? Where can one hide? Where can one find security? Where can one find safety? Where can one find shelter?

Thousands of years ago in Noach’s flood there was only one place of safety. The ark was the only place of shelter!! For 120 years Noach warned all the residents on earth of the impending flood. This seemed like a scientific theory to them. The thought of everything being completely covered with water was inconceivable then as it is now. This partially explains why most of the world's residents made light of Noach. After all, who had heard of a flood? The word flood ... The concept flood was new to the earth's residents. For that matter, who had ever heard of water, of rain, falling from the sky? Then, in addition to this, who had ever heard of Noach? Even though Noach is the central figure of this week's discussion, that doesn't mean he was famous in his day. In fact, we shouldn’t jump to the conclusion Noach was well known in the world. In fact it is very likely that since Noach was a righteous man in his generation, he probably was not well known.

The world was sinful in Noach’s time. Men were stealing the daughters and wives of other men. Malachim {angels} viewed daughters of men and stole men's daughters and wives. These sexual relationships produced abnormal offspring that corrupted the world, bringing it to the place of destruction!

This being the situation, it is understandable why so few listened to Noach as he and his sons labored on building the Tava {the ark}.

Can you imagine the commotion this crazy man Noach was causing in the world? Undoubtedly Noach was the brunt of many late night entertainment show hosts after laboring on the Tava for 120 years... So eventually Noach became well known not as a scientist, not as a politician, but as a dachas, a foolish religious leader. Noach represented the fundamental right to radical religious factions of the world. Noach’s message to the world was so distant {even though it was present}, so out of reach {for them mentally}, so inconceivable that unfortunately the world did not listen. Ha Torah tells the dreadful story of how the entire world perished with the exception of eight people: Noach, his wife, their three sons and daughters-in-law.

This is such a sad and necessary tragic event!

Thousands of years later we review this story with amazement. There are some who still cannot believe such a thing could happen. There are some who wonder how a G-d of love could permit such a horrible destruction. Then there are some who totally believe the Torah’s story of the flood in Noach’s time.

The message is not complicated. In fact it's incredibly simple. Noach was a proactive person trying to communicate his message of repentance, security and safety to the world but they wouldn't listen. Noach through Hashem’s direction anticipated the problem and began to solve it 120 years before it happened. He took a proactive stance! He didn't wait until the floodwaters came to prepare for the problem. The rest of the world took a reactive stance. They reacted to the flood when it occurred. They let circumstances dictate to them the outcome! Simply put, Noach was a leader, a proactive leader who was made fun of and mocked, yet as it turns out he was correct and righteous in his actions.

The residents of earth needed salvation when the floodwaters came, when torrents of rain fell from the heavens and when the earth exploded with volcanic gushes, but it was too late! All that the residents of earth could do now was take reactive stances. They passed on the opportunity of proactivity. Instead of listening to Noach they ignored him.

Today, the world needs salvation. The residents of earth need a place of security. The residents of this world need to reconnect with Spirituality, with their Original Operating System. This is part of your task. This is part of your responsibility. G-d willing you are among the Spiritualist leaders who will be a proactive part of this worldwide change.

Talmidim, who is there among us that doesn't have a difficult day? Who can say, I have never felt like bowing my head and crying? Who can say, I have never been hurt?... I have not been touched by the death of a parent, close relative or friend? Who can say, I have never been fired from a position?... I have never been laid off? Who can say, I have never been ill?... I have never experienced a broken bone? We could continue on with many forms of tragedy in which each of us could use some help. Each of us has experienced those days and times when we needed salvation, when we needed security, when we needed affirmation and encouragement. Each of us has needed a shoulder to cry on... We each have experienced tragedy... Each of us has needed an anchor to hold us in difficult times...

Holy Talmidim, Ha Torah is that anchor in difficult storms. I have relied on it for decades! Torah study is an inner place of security that each of us needs and can benefit from.

When we face difficulty some of us experience this from a proactive position and others from a reactive position. A proactive position is like building a bomb shelter. One tries to prepare for things that may come. One attempts to anticipate what will happen in the future. One makes many attempts to have a say... to have a choice in what affects their life. A reactive position is one in which no attempt is made to alter or change one’s outcome. A reactive person leaves their outcome up to chance. They allow their future to happen without plans. It’s like I have no bomb shelter! The bombs are coming, where can I go? Where is a safe shelter? My car tires are bald. I have a flat. Now I face being ripped off... being taken advantage of... Then we think, “What can I do?”

Sometime ago I listened to a man who took a proactive position every time he stayed in a hotel or motel. Upon arriving at his room, the first thing he would do was to make an exit plan in the event of fire or tragedy. He insisted that his room be on the main floor or second floor. He checked for the closest exit and secondary exit. He made sure his room had a window that he could exit through. He also checked for fire alarms, fire extinguishers, hoses, and overhead sprinklers. His proactive stance saved his life! He was in a hotel fire.

Needless to say, this man's proactive position has affected me. Now I follow a similar proactive pattern when staying overnight. I have also considered escape routes from home and employment.

A proactive stance includes many things like physical checkups, home maintenance and auto maintenance. Simply paying attention in advance to things needing maintenance often changes the outcome.

Holy Talmidim, today we have the opportunity to change our lives by making advance preparation like Noach did. We can make choices today that will greatly affect the quality of our life and our future. Normally there are more choices available on the proactive side than the reactive side. The choice is ours!! What we do with our choice is the question... Will we leave our life open to chance? Or will we make advance plans and preparations?

Ha Torah is a book of wisdom DESIGNED to assist us in making proper choices. This wonderful book of wisdom shares many valuable lessons like this one on proactivity. Ha Torah offers us the opportunity to learn and benefit from the Creator’s deep wells of wisdom. Again, the choice is ours to make or pass up.

Wishing you the best,

Dr. Akiva Gamliel Belk

Originally written 5760
Updated 5764

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