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A Timely Torah Message By Shaya Gross

All or Nothing?

Quite frequently, we will bump into an individual whom at one point of time was at an extremely spiritual level and then fell into the depths of depravity. On the flip-side, and perhaps more commonly, we will meet people who formerly led very immoral lives, who do not merely change their habits for the good, but become extremely pious Jews.

What is the meaning of this phenomenon?

There are many parallels between Moshe Rabbeinu and Noach. Both were placed in a Teiva. Additionally, both of them were saved them from water! Chazal compare and contrast the Teiva of Moshe and the Teiva of Noach. Noach spent 120 years building the Teiva, Moshe lived for 120 years. Moshe went up to get the Torah-which is compared to rain-for forty days and nights, in Noach’s lifetime it rained at the beginning of the Mabul for forty days and nights…! In fact the Arizal writes that Moshe had the same root Neshama as Noach!

What is the meaning of all this?

The Zohar teaches that the generation of Noach had the potential to be the generation that received the Torah. They failed miserably, and were thus wiped out with waters of destruction, as opposed to receiving the beautiful Torah which metaphysically is life sustaining water [this is a powerful lesson in the difference between Moshe and Noach, but I am mentioning it to bring out another point {in addition to sharing these beautiful Torah parallels I heard from Rav Yona Sklare.}]

We see again a concept of people who failed, but not just failed, but failed miserably, so miserably that they destroyed the world with their base actions. And yet these people had the potential to receive the Torah! What is the meaning of all of this?

I think the understanding is that at times, you will come across a person with a very deep neshama & psyche, and hence he NEEDS to have a deep connection to SOMETHING. Hence, you can have a person who is so deeply spiritual but the Yetzer Hara gets him to not have satisfaction in Torah life and he therefore seeks elsewhere to find satisfaction. But for him, a beer and a cheeseburger is not going to do the trick since he has a deep soul and psyche, and hence he needs to find a deep connection out there. Therefore he is going to fall fast and deep….

Likewise, you can have the opposite phenomenon. You can have a person born secular or exposed to secular values and was living an immoral life, but since he has a deep neshama, his psyche doesn’t find true meaning there and he eventually finds his way to an authentic Torah lifestyle. But due to his deeply-rooted neshama, he will not be satisfied with the average mediocre orthodox life, and rather he will throw himself in full force trying to truly connect to Hashem by doing all the Mitzvos with feelings.

Hence, the generation of Noach who had such great neshamos had the potential to receive the Torah but when they failed they failed miserably….

May we all take a lesson from this, firstly, to never judge someone who went off the derech as we never know what they were going through or dealing with, and to never look down at our secular Jewish brethren who are living very immoral lives as very soon they may be keeping the Torah and Mitzvos on a higher spiritual level than ourselves…

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