Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “Spiritual isolation is a problem that requires attention.”

Today, our modern “arks” are sometimes much larger than that of Noah.

The ark may be the size of a neighborhood or even a whole city – containing within it countless tzaddikim, perhaps one Canaan, one Ham, and even one Shem with his house of study.

Beyond that, as far as the ark’s inhabitants are concerned, no other world exists.

This contemporary spiritual isolation is a problem that requires attention.

Noah’s narrative begins with “Noah found favor” and ends on a note of defeat – he is an old and lonely man, with nothing to show for his life’s achievements and struggles.

Ultimately, the world’s “second draft” ends in failure, just as the “first draft” did. God finished creating the world and beheld that “it was very good” (Gen. 1:31), but shortly thereafter Parashat Bereshit concludes, “and He grieved in his heart” (6:6).

Only later on comes the story of Abraham, the man who is capable of being entirely alone, and yet – in spite of everything – succeeds in his life’s goal of fitting the entire world into his ark.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

From Talks on the Parasha