After the excitement of the holiday season during the Jewish month of Tishrei - Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah - we return to our daily, normal routines and day to day grind. We now start the next Jewish month of Cheshvan, nicknamed 'bitter Cheshvan' due to it's utter lack of any Jewish holiday at all. Talk about equality! The lucky month of Tishrei is replete with holiday after holiday, and poor Cheshvan with nothing!

This week's Torah portion is well known; it's the story of Noah and his fabled ark. We learn how Noah's generation was morally decrepit, lacking any sort of human decency. The stole, they quarreled, they fought. G‑d tells Noah that he will bring a great flood upon the earth, and tells him to build a tremendous ark. This ark was to be constructed far from any body of water, and was purposefully built at an extraordinarily slow pace - 120 years! - in order for the people to take note of this odd real estate venture, and thus be warned by Noah that a great flood would wipe them out if they didn't improve, and thus be driven to improve - but they didn't.

The Torah tells how as the rains finally began, G‑d tells Noah 'come to the ark! The time has come, and you must keep your family safe. He also brought along a male and female of every animal species.

Life is like the turbulent waters of the flood, a vast sea which we struggle to navigate. But G‑d tells every one of us 'come to the ark! The hebrew word for ark -'Teiva'- is also the word for... word. 'Come to the words' says the Torah, come to the words of the Torah, of 3,000 years of Jewish wisdom, study, and practice.

Fill your heart and mind with the light of the Torah, of the mitzvot, of a Shabbat candle friday afternoon, of a few minutes of Torah study or charity, or an extra smile. Fill your life with meaning and purpose and make for yourself and ark with which to traverse the sea of life. In the words of the psalmist when speaking of the Torah 'they are more precious than gold and of immense treasure' (הַֽנֶּחֱמָדִ֗ים מִ֭זָּהָב וּמִפַּ֣ז רָ֑ב וּמְתוּקִ֥ים מִ֝דְּבַ֗שׁ וְנֹ֣פֶת צוּפִֽים).

The large lineup of holidays at the onset of the Jewish year are meant to fill us with inspiration and purpose for the upcoming year. They are like a well from which we draw and store away for the next 11 months. Noah had his ark, and we have ours.

Rabbi Avrohom