When Noah had to prepare for the impending deluge that wiped out life as he knew it on earth, he had some serious warning time. I wish God would give me an inkling each time I’m about to experience a “flood.” I spoke to about a dozen congregants today and each one of you said that in some way or another that you were feeling overwhelmed and could barely keep your heads above water. Whether it is our schedules, preparing for an upcoming Simcha, dealing with tragedy or ongoing illness in our families, we all can feel like we are at sea. Many of us feel unprepared when we are inundated. The great medieval rabbinic commentator, Rashi, connects the word flood (mabul) with confusion (balal).
In our Torah, we read that God speaks directly to Noah, the ancestor of all humanity, and gives him precise directions for creating a life-saving craft not just for him and his family, but also for all of the animal life that will continue after the flood. Not only does Noah receive directions for surviving the flood, but he has time to prepare, and conviction to follow through.
My colleague and Jewish mindfulness teacher, Rabbi Jordan Bendat Appel, once taught that attention to mindfulness and the rhythms of Jewish life can act as a life preserver for us when we are caught in waters that threaten to overwhelm us. This can only be possible if we listen to the voice of our tradition, telling us to take each opportunity to say a blessing - on a rainbow, on a morsel of food, on a seeing unique visage, and respond, like Noah, with conviction, and follow-through. It can be possible if we act in the most counter-cultural way possible - by finding some way to actually observe a rest, a Sabbath.
May this Shabbat buoy you and yours through any storm you may encounter.