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In Melbourne Shabbat begins Fri 10 Apr 2020 05:41 PM and ends Sat 11 Apr 2020 06:40 PM

Process or results? - parshas Noach

ל' תשרי ה' אלפים תשע"ב

Noach spent 120 years building an ark. Can you imagine the grit and stubbornness it would have demanded to keep on for so long? Plugging away, day after day, with the hope that he'd be able to save enough breeding stock to be able to repopulate the world after the flood and thus regenerate life as he knew it. He spent a huge chunk of his adult life living, breathing and obsessing about the ark.

But once it was finally finished, what did he do then? Hashem had just informed him of the imminent arrival of the flood; the rain would be starting any day now. You'd have thought that he'd immediately move into animal capture mode; scurrying around frantically, trapping two of every living creature to fill his travelling menagerie. After all, he was a man on a mission and what's the use of building the yacht in the first place if you're not going to fill it?

However from a careful reading of the text it becomes obvious that Noach himself never headed out into the wild. Two by two they came to Noach in the ark, male and female as G-d had commanded Noach (Noach 7:9) . It doesn't say that Noach bought them; rather they came by themselves (Rashi).

Noach's job was to build an ark; it was up to G-d to fill it. He did what he had to do and then allowed Hashem to decide who would be saved.

We all have a job and a mission from G-d; we're just cogs in a giant enterprise. However, too often in life we waste time obsessing about the long-term success of the project; worrying about the part we can't control, when in reality we're just distracting ourselves from fulfilling our personal mission.

It is tempting to believe that my purpose is to make people religious or persuade them to change their lives completely, but that's not my job. My job is to build the most welcoming centre of Judaism that I can and present Yiddishkeit in the most inviting manner possibly. However, people have to choose to walk through the door by themselves.

Our job is to open the door; we can't know in advance who will walk through. We can only build the asylum but Hashem chooses who will be saved. It is too easy to obsess about results, but not at the expense of doing our job. If we focus on the process, we can trust in G-d to bring about a successful conclusion.

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