God tells Noah to build an ark for a flood that will last 40 days and see him cooped up inside a wooden cage – not wonderful, but manageable.
And so into the ark he goes. But the rain continues. And even once it has subsided, the earth remains drenched. It’s not until more than a year later that he finally exits the ark.
Can you imagine how constrained and claustrophobic he must have felt for all that time, not knowing when he would return to normality?
Even when he does emerge, the world is nothing like he remembered. All his friends and extended family are gone.
The infrastructure has all been destroyed. He realises that it all recommences with him. At that point, “Noah the man of the earth began by planting a vineyard.”
And what’s the next thing that happens? Noah gets drunk and demeans himself. Noah, who could have been remembered as the ‘family man’, the ‘spiritual man’, or the ‘society-building man’, chooses to become the ‘man of the earth’, disgracing his legacy for all eternity.
Right now, we’re in the midst of a great flood. We thought it would be over quickly. But we now realise that to return to normal life within the year is wishful thinking.
Inside the ark, we’re in survival mode, trying to get through each day, keeping ourselves and our loved ones alive and well, physically and psychologically.
We will, however, emerge from the ark. Things won’t be the same. We will have choices to make. Will we focus on family and community? Or will we quickly forget the pledges we made and revert to our old ways?
Here’s your chance to begin your life anew. When the pandemic ends, you get to decide your story and that of future generations.
For now, while you’re in the ark, life has slowed down a little.
Now’s the time to plan how you see your life when the door opens. Your eternal legacy begins momentarily. May you be remembered as a person of greatness.
Rabbi Daniel Friedman serves Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue
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