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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Noach


Rabbi Stewart WeissTishrei 28 5778
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It's become quite trendy as of late - what with the many natural disasters we’ve seen recently - to make all kinds of predictions of the planet’s demise & why all this turmoil is happening. But before you take out your "The World Will End In ___ Days" sign, remember: No one is a Prophet; no one has a "lock" on the Almighty. While there certainly are many wise people in the world, as well as special individuals whose Tefilot are powerful, & while the Bracha of a Tzadik (or any person, for that matter!) has merit, at the end of the day it is G-d who decides what will happen & when, based on considerations to which only He is privy.

If anyone tells you otherwise, & says he knows the future, or can can decide the course of natural, or supernatural events, get it in writing - & check your wallet to make sure that nothing is missing!

Yet still, in the Torah's perspective, there definitely IS a traceable connection between human behavior & events occurring in the physical world. Man's actions have a ripple effect on not just our Earth, but on the entire Universe!

Long before there was Katrina, Irma or Maria, there was a Great Flood which made all the other weather systems feel like a summer sprinkle. The Flood not only destroyed humanity, but changed the planet into a radically different
place. The Giants who once roamed the Earth disappeared; human beings no longer lived for centuries. Why?

The Soforno explains: The physical world reflects the actions of humanity. When we live morally-correct lives, when we perform Mitzvot, treat others with respect, battle against corruption & look to the welfare of the poor, widowed &
orphaned, the Earth responds in kind. It yields abundant produce & nurtures life, allowing people to live almost indefinitely. When the spirit flourishes, life expands.

But when we abuse our responsibilities & violate each other & the Land itself, G-d "rolls back" the good, green Earth & it falls far short of the perfect world it could be. Indeed, the Hebrew word, "Eretz" (land) is connected to "Ratz" (run), for Chazal say that the Earth unceasingly "runs" to do the bidding of the Almighty.

The Torah begins with the letter Bet & it ends with a Lamed; Tanach begins with a Vav & ends with a Lamed. These 4 letters unscramble to spell "Lulav." Why Lulav? A Lulav, say the Rabbis, has taste. It does?! Yes! In the end of days, when we will embody Torah & Tanach, Nature will reach its zenith, and the date palm will taste just like the date – both the trees and their fruit will be completely edible! The Earth will rise to an unprecedented level of abundant giving; it will serve – and not sink - its righteous inhabitants.
Rabbi Stewart Weiss
Was ordained at the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Illinois, and led congregations in Chicago and Dallas prior to making Aliyah in 1992. He directs the Jewish Outreach Center in Ra'anana, helping to facilitate the spiritual absorption of new olim.
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