The New Shul

Parshat Noah

Why was Noah, of all people, chosen to renew the world after the flood? The Torah does not explain, but Rabbi Simha Zissel of Kelem found a hint in Noah’s name. “Noah” comes from the Hebrew root that means to “rest.” What was special about Noah, according to Rabbi Simha Zissel, was that, in a frenetic, chaotic world, Noah alone knew how to stop and rest.

We think of Shabbat, our day of rest, as being for our own benefit, a day to renew our spirits. But as Rabbi Simha Zissel reminds us, Shabbat rest also has a moral dimension. The frantic pace of life tends to distort our values. It throws off our perspective, making it hard to remember what is really important. When that happens, we are of little use to those around us.

So, when we step back from the frenzy once a week, we do so not only for ourselves, but for the people that we care about, and for the larger world. It is our ability to slow down and regain our balance once a week, as Noah did, that makes it possible for us too — even if only in a small way — to play a role in the renewal of creation.

  • The New Shul’s Shabbat services are on Friday evenings from 6 to 7 pm, and on Saturday mornings from 9 am to 12 noon. The kiddush-lunch this Shabbat, November 2, will be sponsored by Althea Levine in honor of her 80th birthday.
  • Childcare is available on Shabbat mornings from 10 am to noon.