Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Post-Flood World

I'm a little behind on my learning, partially because I decided that this year I would finish each parshah's notes, etc. before moving on to the next week's. So my thought is actually from parshah Noach. Better late than never, I figure.

The pre-flood world was one that provided an easy existence: the climate was temperate year-round, food had to be accumulated only once every 40 years, and people were imbued with tremendous strength and fortitude. The end result though was that people took their cushy existence for granted and felt little gratitude towards Hashem. To prevent man from making the same mistake in the post-flood world, Hashem decided to make life much more difficult.

Yet in a sense, the post-flood world is no better at showing gratitude to Hashem or to keeping its focus on the Creator. Instead, while we are forced to acknowledge that we are utterly dependent on Hashem, we choose to stray by rationalizing our over-emphasis on material matters as necessary. Because we now have to exert ourselves tremendously in business, at home and otherwise in order to survive, we feel justified in putting Hashem on the "back burner" in order to devote our time and energy to material pursuits. To be frank, most of us, if deciding between spending 5 minutes on Torah matters versus 5 minutes on material matters, find it easier to focus on the latter.

However, by recognizing that our current preoccupations are as inherently flawed as those of the pre-flood generations, perhaps we can begin to shift our focus. That is, by turning our attention to what we choose to focus on and deciding to move Hashem up from the background to the foreground throughout our day, we can learn to prevent ourselves from following down the path that our pre-flood ancestors walked.

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