Stepping Out in FaithOctober 2, 2013 - 5:00 am
“Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives.”—Genesis 8:16
The Torah portion for this week is Noach, from the name of the main character, Noah. It is from Genesis 6:9 –11:32, and the Haftorah is from Isaiah 54:1–55:5.
The “Law of Inertia,” first discovered by Isaac Newton, states that an object in motion will stay in motion and an object at rest will stay at rest until enough external force is exerted in order to change the current state.
In other words, objects don’t like change — and neither do people.
The Sages teach that even though God had commanded Noah to get into the ark, he only does so when he actually feels raindrops on his bare skin. He resisted going into the safety of the ark even though he had been building it for 120 years and believed that God would send a flood and the ark would be the only safe haven. Even more startling is that after the rain had stopped and the waters had clearly receded, Noah needed God’s encouragement to leave the ark. When Noah sent out a bird which never returned to the ark, it was proof positive that the earth was again habitable. Yet Noah stayed hunkered down in the ark. God had to tell Noah: “Come out of the ark . . . .” The very same Noah who resisted going into the ark was now hesitant to leave it!
This small observation teaches us a huge lesson about human nature. Like all creation, human beings resist change. We are subject to the law of inertia, not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. Our present condition, no matter the circumstances, is always more comfortable simply because it is familiar. We fear the unknown, and no doubt Noah had his own fears as he was about to emerge into a brand new world. Similarly, he must have held onto a whole other set of fears when he boarded the ark, knowing that he was about to ride out a flood that would destroy the world as he knew it.
Fear holds us back from change, but in reality, the most frightening thing is to never change at all.
I recently read the following observation, “I always wonder why birds choose to stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question.” There is so much that we can do and so much that we can accomplish if only we would leave our comfort zone and step out in faith. If you listen with your heart you might just hear God whispering to you as he did to Noah, “Come out . . . step out in faith!”
Today, why not try something different? Step out into unfamiliar territory — be it making friendly conversation with a stranger or making a commitment to one of God’s purposes. Together, we can step out and build a better world.