Well, that didn’t take long.
In the Beginning, the word of Hashem brought everything into being: heaven and earth, mountains and rivers, and every living thing. Within six days He shaped a world of order and beauty. Hashem rested on the seventh day and He glorified it as a day of rest. But turn a couple pages and we find that the world and creation as a whole takes a very sad and sinister spin.
Parshas Bereishis ends on a low note with a hint of things to come. The Torah tells us that the world had forgotten Hashem – the world had become evil to the point of no return. However, Parshas Noach introduces us to someone who distanced himself from public opinion and by doing so, secured the survival of himself and his family in the ensuing deluge.
So, order is restored and everything goes back to normal, right?
Not too long after The Great Flood, society devolves yet again and a calamity of a different kind befalls them; this time, we learn of the nations’ intentions to unite and to glorify the strength of mankind while attempting to reach and rebel against Hashem. The Great Dispersion that followed not only forced the gathering in Bavel to abandon their plans, but also caused them to disband and become dispersed over the face of the earth. (Side Note: Should I be concerned with my two-year-old’s recent obsession with building large Magna-Tiles towers? I am also finding it somewhat difficult understanding her constant, incoherent babbling….)
Finally, the end of the parsha begins the “narrative” of the first man to discover Hashem on his own accord. A young Avram separates himself from those around him, counters conventional wisdom, and thereby nominates himself as the world’s only “Ivri.” Over a period of time, he would proceed to withstand his Heaven-sent tests in faith, and thus further solidify his distinguished title.
The underlying theme of this week’s parsha (much as it was in last week’s parsha, and one can certainly argue that the same is true of every single subsequent sedra) is that Hashem was, is, and always will be the absolute definition of One. Parshas Noach contains one of the most prime portrayals of the fact that the world’s existence and natural function literally hinges on our awareness of this truth.
The Dor HaMabul refused to allow Hashem into their lives and thereby completely lost sight of His existence. A few hundred years later, the Dor HaFlagah felt they no longer needed Hashem in their lives and had intended to rid Him from the world. Understandably, both populations “missed the boat” in their own way and thus suffered accordingly.
Noach stood above all of humanity, following in the holy ways of his primordial predecessors, and was rewarded with the gift of life. Avraham realized Hashem’s presence in every entity, understanding just how crucial a connection with Hashem actually is, and it is his children who continue to cling to these undeniable truths. And like Noach and Avraham did before us, we, too, call for the universal recognition of Hashem by all of humanity.
As we know, throughout davening we express our appreciation of our place in the world as Hashem’s chosen people – descendants of our Avos and Imahos who paved the way for us to know Him and to proclaim His Oneness. Aleinu concludes by citing the prophetic pasuk (Zechariah 14:9), “V’hayah Hashem l’Melech al kol ha’aretz,” – “And Hashem will be King over all the earth,” “bayom hahu yihyeh, Hashem Echad u’Shmo Echad” – “and on that day, Hashem will be One, and Hashem’s name will be One”.
V’haya was composed by Yerachmiel Begun and is sung by his marvelous Miami Boys Choir on their 1995 mega-hit release called One By One. It featured soloists Levi Livshits, Oded Karity, and Yitzy Spinner and is undoubtedly one of MBC’s most popular albums of all time.
The words of the Navi tell us of a harmonious vision, the future union of all mankind and the collective recognition of Hashem. The time will come when the veil of nature will be removed, revealing once and for all Who is really behind it all. Bayom hahu yihyeh – and it will be on that day that the whole world will discover what we’ve known all along – Hashem Echad, u’Shmo Echad.
Wishing you a one-of-a-kind Shabbos!