The Purifying Waters of the Flood

From a discourse by the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson,
published in Likkutei Sichos, Volume 1.
Freely translated by Rabbi Y. A.

Flood watersThe Alter Rebbe (Rabbi Shneur Zalman) explains in Torah Or that the Flood served not only as a punishment for the people who had sinned, but also as a purification for the world. This is also the reason why it rained for forty days, which corresponds to the measure of forty sa’ah of water that a ritual bath is required to have. Since the Flood accomplished this purification, it is therefore referred to as “The waters of Noach,” meaning the waters which give pleasure. [The name Noach (Noah) has the same root as nachas, pleasure]. Once the flood had cleansed the world from its impurity, G-d had great pleasure.

The Alter Rebbe explains in detail that also the worries and difficulties one has in earning a living, which are called “many waters”, rinse and cleanse a person (his character, etc.) from traits which should not be there. This purification [the refinement of the person’s character traits] also causes G-d great pleasure.

The following explains the connection between worries concerning one’s livelihood and the Flood… When a person removes from himself any feeling of haughtiness and self-importance, he is thus elevated and purified, and he becomes a vessel to holiness. This is also the true reason [why G-d gives] a person worries concerning earning a livelihood. Although they temporarily disturb and confuse him, nevertheless they cause him to be broken and his ego to be crushed. When he started out [in pursuing his income] he felt that he had the power to conquer the world, but he soon realizes that all of his plans are to no avail. He now understands that success lies only in the hands of G-d, and in putting his trust in G-d. Through this process he becomes a vessel for G-dliness.

Since the true reason why G-d brings these worries and sufferings upon a person is not to punish him (G-d forbid), but to rinse off and purify him from undesirable traits etc., it is therefore understandable that this can be achieved even in one moment. This can happen if he only realizes the inner purpose of his sufferings and takes their lesson to heart. He is then able to learn his lesson in one minute, and by acting accordingly, the small amount of suffering that he already endured would be sufficient. Then it can be immediately followed by a flow of both material and spiritual blessings – a flow that is thoroughly good in an obvious and revealed manner.