Jonah James, Staff Writer
In the Zohar, we learn that Shabbos blesses all the days of the coming week. While Shabbos Bereishis is the first Shabbos of the year, representing the first blessing offered onto mundanity, Shabbos Parshas Noach manifests this blessing by imbuing that work with rest. In a 1992 talk given by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, he explains how Noach and his family saw a new world after emerging from the ark, and how we, in turn, can become conscious of the geula (redemption) today. By delving into Torah – especially Chassidus and concepts about Moshiach – we hasten Moshiach’s full revelation, the era when every day is like Shabbos, and when knowledge of G-d fills the earth like water covers the sea (Isaiah, 11:9).
In Parshas Noach, Hashem promises that the rainbow will remain an everlasting sign of G-d’s covenant with man, indicating the world’s continued existence. Bereishis, on the other hand, expresses the world’s creation, not its sustenance. Bereishis is the universe from Hashem’s perspective, while Noach is the universe from our perspective- one that exists after man’s descent into sin and his subsequent teshuvah (return). Our job, says the Rebbe, is to refine our surroundings into a home for Hashem (Midrash Tanchuma Naso), to the point that we “see a new world”, (Bereishis Rabbah, 30:8) like Noach and his family saw after leaving the ark, even as we remain in exile.
The Rebbe explains that the divine name Havaya (Yud-Kay-Vav-Kay) refers to G-d above the world, while Elokim refers to Hashem hidden within the world. This is like the sun, which emanates light, and the sun’s photosphere, which filters sunlight so that we can receive it. If the sun’s energy directly expressed itself on earth, we could not tolerate it, and hence sunlight must be filtered, as the verse says, “The sun and a shield [are] Havaya [and] Elokim” (Tehillim 84:11). Elokim allows the world to feel like an independent existence, without being totally subsumed in Havaya’s infinite light. At first, Hashem made the world only from the name Elokim, “Bereishis Bara Elokim,” (In the beginning, Elokim created the world); but a few verses later the Torah says Havaya Elokim made the world (Bereishis, 2:4). So which is it? The answer can be found by delving into Parshas Noach.
Noach, who “found favor with Havaya,” revealed G-dliness above nature, in nature (Bereishis 6:8). Noach brought down Havaya, G-d as He transcended the world, even as the world still functioned according to nature. In the words of the Mitteler Rebbe, the creation (yesh hagashmi) realizes its existence is the ultimate existence (yesh hamiti), namely, that G-d’s concealment is, in fact, revelation. We see this in G-d’s maintenance of the natural order, which is unchanging, and reflects how “I, G-d, have not changed” (Malachi 3:6), a reference to His infinitude. From this recognition we draw down a higher level within Havaya itself, specifically because finite creations make this recognition. The Rebbe is giving us the ability to see through galus (exile), which is now only a veil, and into the geula (redemption).
These ideas find practical expression in Parshas Lech Lecha, which we read during Mincha of Shabbos Parshas Noach. Just as Avraham leaves behind what he previously knew, so too we can radically “walk” through levels of G-dliness until we arrive at “Havaya is Elokim.” As we see in the words“Lech lecha” (Go out), there is a command and empowerment for everyone to leave exile and enter redemption. G-d instructs Avraham to go to “the land which I will show you,” or Arecka. But Arecka also has another meaning: “I will reveal you,” – by entering mundanity, we reveal our deepest G-dly identity (Torah Or, Parshas Lech Lecha).
While in our individual lives, we may occasionally falter, this in no way detracts from our collective Divine service throughout all the generations, which the Rebbe says is complete. If there is one minor sickness in a healthy body, the healthy body will heal the ailment, and so our combined teshuvah has rectified any specific flaw within the Jewish people. Today, all of the work needed to bring Moshiach has finished, as the Rebbe teaches that “all the buttons have been polished,” and all that is left to do is stand ready and accept Moshiach.
As the Davidic dynasty returns, “moonlight will become like sunlight” (the Kiddush Levanah liturgy) in a state of total unity, and Havaya will shine openly in Elokim (Likkutei Levi Yitzchak on Zohar Chelek Gimmel, page 333). We are like the moon, and Hashem is like the sun, and although in exile we reflect His light, in the future we will illuminate on our own and crown Hashem (Kuntres Rosh Chodesh Kislev 5752). Through our spiritual work in exile we make a home for Hashem, and we have the ability to realize this completion. Just as Noach saw a new world, so too the Rebbe gives us the Chassidus to perceive the integration of Havaya and Elokim. All we must do is “open our eyes.”