GOOD MORNING! In this week's Torah portion, Noah plants a grapevine shortly after leaving the ark. At his earliest possible convenience, he makes wine and proceeds to get drunk. The Midrash tells that when one drinks one cup of wine, he becomes like a lamb, docile and peaceful. After two cups, he becomes like a lion, boastful of all the great things he believes he will accomplish. After three cups, he dances like a monkey. After four cups, he rolls in the mud like a pig.
The story is told of a man who would drink to the point of inebriation and then sleep in the gutter of the street. The children would taunt him and throw things at him. His son, a prominent member of the community, was embarrassed by his father's drinking and arranged to keep his father at home. One day the son saw another drunk lying in the gutter with kids making fun of him. Quickly, he ran home to bring his father to witness the evils of drink. The father upon seeing the drunk in the gutter and the taunting kids, walks up to the drunk and bends down to speak with him. On the way home the son asks his father, "What did you say to the man?" The father replied, "I didn't say anything. I just asked him where he got such good liquor."
Alcohol addiction -- like any addiction -- is difficult to overcome. Alcoholics Anonymous have a 12 Step Plan. It is really the basis for recovery from any addiction to a desire. We think we are in control of our lives. As long as we think we are in control of our lives, it is nearly impossible to break addictions or to change our character. The essence of Alcoholics Anonymous and similar efforts is for the person to realize that he does not have ultimate control over his life and that he needs help from a Higher Power.
The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol-that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditations to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twersky, founder and medical director of Gateway Rehabilitation Center, an addiction recovery program, tells the story of a man who refused to be a mentor for a recovering atheist alcoholic unless he agreed to pray every day. The alcoholic professed his disbelief in God, but agreed to what he felt was a ridiculous demand. After a couple of months the recovering alcoholic told his mentor that praying made a world of difference in his recovery. Said the recovering alcoholic, "I still don't believe in God, but now I realize that I am not God!"
One person and the Almighty is a majority. Turn your problems over to the Almighty and ask for help. You have a better chance of succeeding. They don't call Him "Almighty" for nothing. Recognizing that God has the power to help, gives you merit to receive His help. Our goal in life is to perfect ourselves, to emulate God -- and only if we recognize His existence and His power are we able to do that. (You might consider buying Starting Over -- Using Torah and the Twelve Steps of Recovery to Find Happiness by Sima Devorah Schloss, Judaica Press, available at your local Jewish bookstore, at JudaicaEnterprises.com or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242.)
Torah Portion of the Week
The story of one righteous man in an evil generation. The Almighty commands Noah to build the ark on a hill far from the water. He built it over a period of 120 years. People deride Noah and ask him, "Why are you building a boat on a hill?" Noah explains that there will be a flood if people do not correct their ways (according to the comedian Bill Cosby, Noah would ask "How long can you tread water?"). We see from this the patience of the Almighty for people to correct their ways and the genius of arousing people's curiosity so that they will ask a question and, hopefully, hear the answer.
The generation does not do Teshuva, returning from their evil ways, and God brings a flood for 40 days. They leave the ark 365 days later when the earth has once again become habitable. The Almighty makes a covenant and makes the rainbow the sign of the covenant that He will never destroy all of life again by water (hence, James Baldwin's book, The Fire Next Time). When one sees a rainbow it is an omen to do Teshuva -- to recognize the mistakes you are making in life, regret them, correct them/make restitution, and ask for forgiveness from anyone you have wronged as well as from the Almighty.
Noah plants a vineyard, gets drunk and then occurs the mysterious incident in the tent after which Noah curses his grandson Canaan. The Torah portion concludes with the story of the Tower of Babel and then a genealogy from Noah's son, Shem, to Abram (Abraham).
* * *
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
After the Great Flood the Almighty said:
"My rainbow I placed in the clouds, and it will be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth" (Genesis 9:13).
What lesson for life can we learn for life from the symbolism of the rainbow?
The rainbow symbolizes peace and unity. A rainbow is made up of various colors and shades of colors and although they are very different from each other, they come together to make one entire whole. Similarly, people are very different from each other. They come from different national backgrounds, and they have different personalities.
However, if they will look at themselves as one unit there can be peace and harmony despite the differences between them. This is basic for the existence of the world and for the welfare of individuals. For this reason the rainbow is the symbol of the covenant between the Almighty and the earth.
Whenever you see a rainbow, or a picture of a rainbow, let it be a reminder to work towards harmony with other people even if there are major differences between you. While differences in interests and personality might make it difficult for you to become close friends with a specific person, you can still have a harmonious and peaceful relationship with him.
CANDLE LIGHTING - October 19
(or go to http://www.aish.com/sh/c/)
Guatemala 5:22 - Hong Kong 5:37 - Honolulu 5:46
J'Burg 5:58 - London 5:41 - Los Angeles 5:56
New York 5:51 Singapore 6:34 - Toronto 6:09
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
You can understand a person's nature
through three things --
his cup (when he is under the influence of alcohol),
his wallet (his generosity),
his anger (easy or hard to anger; easy or hard to appease)
-- Talmud Eruvin 65b.
(In Hebrew the phrase flows smoothly:
B'koso, B'kiso, B'ka'aso.)
Rabbi Kalman Packouz
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