05 Oct NOACH: LOOK OUT THE WINDOW
When Hashem commanded Noach to build the tevah (ark), He instructed that it must include a רהצ†– a source of light. The Rabbis gave two different interpretations to this word. Some explained that it was a special stone that shone, providing light, and others explained that רהוצ†was simply a window.
These two explanations might not be disagreeing with one another, but rather showing us two different ways to respond to the “floods” – the hardships and challenges – that we confront during life.
One way to respond is to be a “stone” – silent and still. As the Torah said about Aharon after the tragic death of his two sons, ןורהא†םדיו†– he remained silent. Rather than weep and complain, he kept quiet.
However, as great and noble as this is, there is an even higher level – to look through the “window,” to use the difficult situation to see new things that we never saw before.
Oftentimes, when I meet with people going through some kind of challenge or crisis, I advise them to go into a room with a pen and paper, and make a list of what they can gain from this difficult experience, that they would not have been gained otherwise. If we can muster the strength to do this – and I openly admit that this is not at all easy!!! – then the crisis becomes so much easier to handle. If we can “look out the window,” beyond the immediate circumstances, we will be able to grow in ways we would otherwise not have been able to.
The Gemara tells that the Babylonian emperor Nevuchadnetzar, who destroyed the first Bet Ha’mikdash, could have been an exceptional poet and singer. If he would have sung songs, his songs would have been greater than David Ha’melech’s songs in Tehillim. Nobody would have thought anything of David Ha’melech’s songs to G-d, because they would have paled in comparison to Nevuchadnetzar’s. But an angel slapped Nevuchadnetzar on the mouth, so he would not be able to sing.
What does this mean?
One commentary explains that Nevuchadnetzar was able to sing beautiful praises to Hashem because he had everything. He was the most powerful man in the world in his time. He was famous, wealthy and successful. A person so successful could sing wonderful praises to G-d. But then an angel gave him a “slap” – gave him some challenges and hardships, and then said to the emperor, “Now let’s see if you can praise G-d!”
What makes David’s praises so special is that he sang them even in the darkest of times. David Ha’melech faced unimaginable challenges, including a revolt against him mounted by his own son. But throughout it all, David was able to sing, to see what is beautiful in the world and feel grateful to Hashem.
The word used for the light in the ark, רהצ, has the same letters as הרצ†– distress. The same situation can be either a הרצ, a time of anguish, or רהצ†– an opportunity for “light.” It all depends on our perspective, on our ability to “look out the window” and see the opportunities presented by the challenging situation.
So let’s always “look out the window” in every difficult situation we face, and find how we can use each one to bring more “light” into our lives, to grow and become better and more accomplished people.