A ‘Your Mother’s Guidance’ post by Rebecca Masinter
I have a beautiful idea to share with you today. We know that Noach spent 120 years building the Ark in preparation for the Flood, but when the time came to actually enter the ark, he delayed. Genesis 7:7 says:
“And Noach went in, and his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives with him,
into the Ark, because of the waters of the Flood.”
He waited to enter the Ark until the floodwaters forced him to delay no longer. Ancient Jewish wisdom says here that Noach was, “miktanei emunah” – “among the small believers,” because he only entered at the very last moment when the flood had already started. How can it be that Noach didn’t have full faith? He spent 120 years preparing for the flood; surely he believed that it was coming?
Rabbi Shimon Schwab, a great 20th century Torah teacher, teaches here a magnificent lesson about Faith. Faith isn’t just believing in God’s promises, but Faith is itself a creative force that has the power to actualize promises and bring potential into reality. Rabbi Schwab points out that the root of the Hebrew word for faith is O-M-N, caring for a child, like the words in the Scroll of Esther, “Vayehi OMeiN es Hadasa” “and he [Mordechai] raised Hadassah (Esther 2:7). An OMeiN is someone who raises a child, one who works to bring out a child’s full potential. An OMeiN doesn’t just have faith in the future reality of a child, he works actively to actualize the promise.
Faith, it seems, isn’t only believing that something will happen, but the nature of faith is that by having faith, we actually help fulfill that future. Faith is an active, creative force, not a passive, ‘sit back and wait to see what will happen’. Having true faith in a future contributes to that future arriving. When ancient Jewish wisdom says that Noach was among the small believers, it is telling us that Noach didn’t want to be part of bringing the flood to the world. He didn’t want to be active in bringing forth the destruction. He hoped that if he didn’t intensify his faith, perhaps he could delay or prevent the Flood. He withheld his faith power so as not to engage it as a creative force. And it turns out, that was the wrong thing to do. His job, like all of ours, was to do what God commanded him to do with full energy and vigor, and let God take care of His department, so to speak.
As we’ve discussed before, faith and motherhood are deeply intertwined. Raising a child is an act of faith, but today’s message is that having faith is also part of raising a child. Our faith in our children’s wonderful futures helps those futures become reality. When we look past today’s challenges and have a clear vision of our child as a successful adult, when we refuse to get bogged down in today’s messes because we have faith that our child will grow out of this stage and into maturity, we are actively influencing that future. A child who has a mother who sees him, now, not as a Terrible Two, or a cranky teenager, or today’s ordeal, but sees him clearly as a future source of delight and joy, is fortunate. That very faith contributes to its actualization.
This is a powerful message both in how we see and raise our children and in our own lives. Too often we accept our limited reality instead of opening ourselves up to an expansive Faith. Rabbi Schwab’s point to us is just as true in our own lives as in our children. Let’s have faith—a clear vision of hope—because that faith doesn’t just expect the future, it also brings it closer.