Posts tagged " Noah "

Mission Possible

November 11th, 2020 Posted by Thought Tools 4 comments

Each one of us is unique, of course.  It’s just that some are, well, a little more unique than others. Our president is certainly unique. Over the past few years, President Trump has worked at a pace that younger presidents did not attempt or manage. Whether you agree or disagree with his policies, he takes his mission seriously.

Let us look at five individuals who also took their missions seriously. In his own way, each has a lesson for us.

And God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before me…I will destroy them… make an ark…”(Genesis 6:13-14)

And the Lord said to Abram, “Leave your country, and your family, and your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1)

And the Lord appeared to him [Isaac] and said, “Don’t go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you.” (Genesis 26:2)

And, behold, the Lord stood above it [the ladder] and said [to Jacob], “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, to you will I give it, and to your seed.”  (Genesis 28:13)

And when the Lord saw that he [Moses] turned aside to see, God called to him out of the midst of the bush, and said, “Moses, Moses. And he said, ‘Here I am’.”(Exodus 3:4)

These are the very first times that God spoke to Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses, respectively.  Each of these instances heralded a major change in the life of the individual involved.  Each occasion propelled each person onto a powerful new plateau of being.

Most of us yearn to move to new levels in one or more areas of our lives.  Some seek added success in finances, while others wish for progress in family and friendships.  Whenever we seek transformation in our lives, God’s help can make all the difference. What sort of behavior characterized these five Biblical personalities?

Noah remained uninfluenced by the mistaken ideas of the evil people around him. (Genesis 6:5-9)

Abraham didn’t delay; he instantly started his journey. (Genesis 12:1-4)

By claiming his wife was his sister (Genesis 26:7) just as Abraham had done (Genesis 12:13), and by re-digging his father’s wells (Genesis 26:18) Isaac reasserted that he was Abraham’s heir and would further his father’s mission (Genesis 18:19) by dedicating himself to doing the things he alone as the heir to Abraham’s blessing could do.

Jacob single-mindedly seized the opportunity to purchase the birthright when his brother fortuitously asked him for his lunch. (Genesis 25:30-31)  Later he single-mindedly pursued Rachel, working for seven years to win her. (Genesis 29:18-20)

At the Burning Bush, Moses committed to bringing Israel out of Egypt and to the Promised Land. In so doing, Moses accepted a mission that was to absorb all his effort for each and every day of the next forty years (Deuteronomy 29:4)

Above all, they all took their lives and their missions seriously.  Transformation arrives from treating one’s life seriously enough to adopt five practices.

How might we phrase the actions of these men in modern terms?

1.  Ignore bad ideas and tenaciously fight complacency, never settling for the status quo. (Noah)

2.  Never postpone decisions unnecessarily.  Sometimes, we need to act quickly and promptly.  (Abraham)

3.  Dedicate ourselves to the tasks that we are specially positioned to do.  (Isaac)

4.  Focus on one thing at a time, while keeping your eye on the bigger picture. (Jacob)

5.   Expect the ups and downs that you will meet. Keep the global landscape of your mission in mind at all times. (Moses)

God made us each unique. At the same time, we share with most other humans the desire to thrive in five main areas of life: Family, Finance, Fitness, Friendship, and Faith.  If we keep our eye on balancing these vital parts of our lives, we will be best suited to moving ahead with our overall mission.

Are you a Happy Warrior?
Are you ready to be one? 

Are You a Noah or an Abraham?

November 8th, 2020 Posted by Practical Parenting, Your Mother's Guidance 2 comments

A ‘Your Mother’s Guidance’ post by Rebecca Masinter

As we read the section of Genesis about the Flood, we see the world being destroyed and recreated. Noah is the man who lived through the recreation.  When he left the ark, he emerged into a world that was fundamentally changed from what it had been before.  Unfortunately, Noah himself was also changed through witnessing the horrific destruction.  Noah, who before the Flood was an Ish Tzadik, a man of righteousness, was now an Ish Adamah, a man of the earth.  Noah got derailed. He wasn’t able to adapt to the new world with resilience and he fell from his original great height.

Ancient Jewish wisdom draws parallels and distinctions between Noah and Abraham.  Rabbi Berel Wein points out that this is one area we see the difference between them.  Noah couldn’t move past the flood.  He entered the new world, planted a vineyard, and drowned his sorrows.  We don’t see him re-emerging to build and recreate.   Abraham had ten challenges each of which could have derailed him. He kept going forward regardless.  Abraham had resilience.  He looked forward with hope and optimism, not backward at difficulties and destruction.

Yesterday I read an article discussing how society is changing because of corona and the author gave a prediction of how long it will take until life is back to normal.  The author claimed that this will take several years.  I realized then that we have a choice.  We too are witnessing a changing world.  Thank God, not anywhere close to the level that Noah witnessed, but we are living through an upheaval, and we suspect that our world for at least the next year will be unlike the world last year.

We have a choice.  We can look backward and feel stuck because life doesn’t feel normal, it doesn’t feel comfortable and it’s not what we’re used to.  Or we can look forwards like Abraham and focus on and embrace the reality we have been given today with optimism and energy.

On Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles), I took my young son to an outdoor farm festival.  It was not crowded, we were outdoors and in masks.  At one time, he and two other children were playing in a big sandlot and I noticed that each of the three children was playing totally independently. They weren’t chatting or creating a make-believe game.  They were far apart and ignoring each other.  It felt surreal to me.  When my other children were this age and in a public park or play area, they naturally started interacting with other children, playing with, and talking to them.  I felt saddened that this was the new reality for little children, but I realized that the three kids were perfectly happy.  They may not even remember it being otherwise.  I was the one that could stew in the past and feel upset that today was different, or I could accept the beauty of today’s reality and face the new situation head on without contrasting it to last year’s scenario.

Weddings have changed.  Bar Mitzvahs have changed.  School has changed.  Our relationship with screens has changed.  And so much more. And yes, change is difficult.  But the choice is ours to learn from Abraham to choose to look forward with hope and resilience.  Our children won’t benefit from hearing us bemoan how different everything feels.  They will benefit from us making the best of our world as it is today.  We need to find the blessings and overcome the challenges.  It is on us as mothers to not to complain in front of our kids about what is currently gone and different, but to see with clear-headed eyes what our reality is today and make the right decisions to make the most of today’s opportunities.  This is resilience – switching our focus from what once was to what is today and what we look forward to tomorrow.

Faith Creates the Future

October 26th, 2020 Posted by Practical Parenting 6 comments

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.

Sneering At Virtue

May 3rd, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Here is one of the most important lessons to teach your children: Wrongdoers detest those who don’t join in. It’s also not a bad lesson for you to understand and absorb if you want a clear picture of the behind-the-scenes politics in your place of business. It is just as necessary in order to understand how power and money have corrupted much of our political process.

More than one dedicated and idealistic candidate has won election promising to become a representative of the people. Finding his place in the corridors of power, he discovers to his dismay that many of his colleagues are there to feather their nests. What is more, he is quickly made to understand that if he holds himself aloof and refrains from participation in the plunder he will never receive invitations to the best parties. More seriously, he will be overlooked for committee appointments. There are no easy ways to deal with this reality, leading many earnest and well-intentioned people to succumb to the enticements of power. It is very difficult to live with one’s virtue being mocked. (more…)

Super Action Hero – Abraham!

October 19th, 2010 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

 
Four years ago, Business Week magazine ran a story about how Hindu thinking was influencing business in the United States. It stated, “Academics and consultants such as C. K. Prahalad, Ram Charan, and Vijay Govindrajan are among the world's hottest business gurus.”  It turned out that over 10% of the professors at the best business schools were of Indian descent.

“When senior executives come to Kellogg, Wharton, or Harvard, they are exposed to Indian values" says Dipak C. Jain, dean of the Kellogg School.” 

Vijay Govindarajan, a professor at Dartmouth's School of Business, linked his theories directly to Hindu philosophy.  He helps companies stop reacting to the past and start creating their futures.  Govindarajan says his work is inspired by the Hindu concept that future lives are partly determined by current actions, "Innovation is about creating change, not reacting to change."

You will probably not be surprised to learn the idea of creating change rather than reacting to it originated in Genesis.

Before God told Noah of His unhappiness with human behavior and instructed him to build the ark, we’d already received clues that Noah was a pretty special guy.

And he (Noah’s father) called his name Noah saying,
 ‘He shall redirect us from our actions and from the sadness…’
(Genesis 5:29)

And Noah found grace in God’s eyes. Noah was a righteous man,
perfect in his generation; Noah walked with God.
(Genesis 6:8-9)

Thus it comes as no surprise when we read that of all other humans, God spoke to Noah.

Ten generations later we read that of all other humans, God spoke to Abraham.

And God said to Abram, ‘Go for yourself from your land,from your birthplace, and from your father’s house to the land which I will show you.  And I will make of you a great nation, I will bless you…’
(Genesis 12:1-2)

Yet, when we attempt to discover similar clues as to why God selected Abraham, the text is conspicuously silent.  All we know from the closing verses of Genesis chapter eleven are his relatives’ names and that his wife had difficulty conceiving.  This is hardly comparable to the wonderful things we heard about Noah and which explained why God selected him.

Ancient Jewish wisdom reveals many hidden details of Abram’s early life, but the basic question remains: Why did the Torah explain why God selected Noah but remain silent on why God selected Abraham?

The answer possesses the power to transform us from tennis balls floating down the gutter of life into sculptors of our destiny:

God didn’t select Abraham.  Abraham selected God. 

God’s directive found at the beginning of Genesis chapter twelve was not only for Abraham.  It is beamed out loud and clear in every generation to every single human being.   It summons each of us, for our own good, to step out of our familiar comfort zone and loosen the shackles which can bind us to the unproductive past.  Once we start the journey, God shows the way and He will bless us.  God calls us all to escape our confining cocoons and discover our destiny.  Most do not heed the call.  Abraham did and so can we.

And how did Hinduism discover the importance of creating change?  From Abraham’s sons of course.

And to the sons of his concubines, Abraham gave gifts and … he sent them … eastwards to the land of the east.
 (Genesis 25:6)

Ancient Jewish wisdom informs us they went to India and with all Abraham had taught them, established Hinduism., To this very day their descendants, the priestly caste in Hinduism, are still called Brahmins, or descendants of “Abraham.”

 

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