STARTING OVER AGAIN
Joshua S. Feingold
The story of the flood takes up such a large portion of the Torah that it must be teaching an extremely valuable lesson. The Torah relates that when Hashem saw that Man was acting immorally, "He had heartfelt sadness" (Genesis 6:6).
The story of the flood takes up such a large portion of the Torah that it must be teaching an extremely valuable lesson. The Torah relates that when Hashem saw that Man was acting immorally, "He had heartfelt sadness" (Genesis 6:6). Rashi, the fundamental Torah commentator, explains that Hashem was grieved that He needed to destroy His creations. However, even though the destruction which would result from the flood caused Hashem "sadness", it had to be done because it was the only prudent course of action. In a similar vein, when we see that things are not going well for us, even though making a change might be extremely difficult and bring a lot of pain, we also may nevertheless need to start over.
Failure hurts. When the initial realization hits that what we have been working at for years was in vain and that we may need to scrap everything, our first reaction is one of fear and apprehension. It is often easier to continue in our old ways and habits, even though we know that they are incorrect. No one likes to admit to themselves that they were wrong, and it takes a person of great strength to stop what they have been doing and start over again. As our sages teach in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of Our Fathers 4:1), "Who is truly strong? One who conquers his desires."
Take Raish Lakish. He was the head of a large band of thieves in Talmudic times. He had power, money, you name it. However, after meeting the great Rabbi Yochanon, he realized that his own way of life was not correct. He therefore gave it all up. He lost his robber friends, his power, his honor among the thieves, and all the perks that being chief robber brought with it. Raish Lakish had true strength. He started over and went on to become one of the greatest rabbis of the time, with his opinions being quoted throughout the Talmud.
We can incorporate the message of the flood into our daily lives. New information constantly requires us to redefine what we know to be true and act based upon that knowledge. There will certainly be times when we will be faced with new facts and will need to reevaluate our actions. Hopefully, when we discover that our actions are incorrect, we will have the strength to take the lesson of the flood to heart and, even amidst the difficulties, begin anew.
Joshua S. Feingold, a native Atlantan and alumnus of Yeshiva Atlanta, is a graduate student at the Ner Israel Rabbinical College and the University of Maryland.
Mazal Tov to Joshua and his fiancée Rebekah Barr on their recent engagement.
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