Thursday, October 18, 2012

Building our Personal Sacred Space

Fun Finale to Talent-Packed B'erot Concert in Jerusalem
The routine of the year has started. The sweet scents of rain are in the air. Now it is time to sow new seeds, to begin anew. As the nights are growing longer we increase Torah study, we go inside, seeking protection from the storms in Hashem’s holy words of Torah. Whatever craziness is raging in the world around me, I feel safe in my personal sacred space. Perhaps I’m naïve, but all I have is His word, which I trust.

The meditation below will help you overcome the waves of your worries, and feel b’Noach – at rest, in complete peace with yourself.

With Blessings of the Torah and the Land,
Chana Bracha Siegelbaum

Read Parshat Noach and Blessing in Disguise -Rebbetzin's commentary on Haftorat Noach

Parasha Meditation Noach
Bereishit 6:9-11:32

Our Personal Ark of Protection
The great flood of Noach teaches us that no matter how greatly people mess up, there is always a way out of total destruction. Hashem imbues within us the power of protection, no matter how much we may sin G-d forbid, there will never again be total destruction like the great flood.[1] Moreover, we will always have our personal ark – a corner of purity – where we can escape all matters of corruption.

The Protection of the Holy Shabbat
The Zohar teaches that Noach alludes to the holy Shabbat.[2] “Noach found grace”[3] – by means of keeping the holy Shabbat, a Jew has the power to overcome all kinds of negative influence in the world. Whoever keeps Shabbat according to its Halachot (Jewish laws) is forgiven even if he worshiped idols.[4] The power of Shabbat protects us even from the worst situation. The holy Shabbat corresponds to Noach’s ark which protects from the water of the deluge.[5]

The Power of Torah Keeps Impurity from Entering
Noach’s ark also alludes to the holy Torah, which provides us with protection. “I have created the yetzer hara, (evil inclination) I have created the Torah its antidote.”[6] The Torah is the power of protection from the corruption of the generation of the flood. The matter of Noach’s ark is to detain the powers of impurity from spreading, and prevent them from entering the ark, by means of the power of the Torah.

Holding on to the Rope of Our Holy Spark
Whenever we feel down and low, when we feel that our personal world is at the verge of collapse, then it is the time to “Make for yourself an ark.”[7] – Seek refuge in your personal sacred space – the spark of life from which we have the ability to rebuild our broken spiritual world. This ark is built by means of the one mitzvah that each and every Jew keeps to perfection, in any situation, no matter how much resistance we experience. This spark of life gives us otherworldly powers to overcome the nature of even the fiercest storm. “For yet a little while and the wicked shall not be.”[8] The little spark within us, where there is no wickedness, this is our personal ark that saves us from all corruption. This can be compared to a person who is drowning in the sea. Someone throws him a rope that he can hold on to. Whenever we hold on to the rope we can live. Drowning in the sea symbolizes the darkest feeling of despair, and the rope is the little spark within us, elevating us above our desperate situation, empowering us to return to our source – our sacred space of the ark.[9]

Come to the Word
The word in Hebrew for ark תֵּבָה – “teivah” also means “word.” “Come to the word”[10] of Torah and tefilah (prayer) G-d is telling us. This is true all year long, but especially now, right after the holidays when we have been earnestly working on ourselves. If we practice now doing things right, it will be easier all year long![11]

Sit comfortably in your chair, close your eyes and take deep breaths several times. Breathe deeply and feel completely relaxed in all of the limbs of your body.

1. After several minutes of relaxed breathing, imagine that you face the turbulent sea. There are bright shining threatening waves, as far as the eye can see.

2. Each stormy wave of “the waters of Noach” represents another one of your worries. Worries about your place in the world, about parnassah (money), your health, your children your future…Visualize how each worry is whisking over you, almost drowning you, making you pant for breath.

3. Within the sea of your worries, there is a light – a small light of peace. You hear a Heavenly Voice softly whispering into your ear ““Come to the ark.” –בֹּא אֶל הַתֵּבָה – “Come to the ark.” – בֹּא אֶל הַתֵּבָה.

4. Listen to the voice and enter into your personal ark. Now you can float safely above the waves of your worries. You are neither cold nor wet, just floating…. You are floating...floating allowing Hashem to steer the course.

5. Breathe deeply and relax even more, knowing that all your worries will evaporate in your trusting that Hashem will steer you to secure shores.

6. From within your ark, feel the waves of the flood above and below you, while you are being safe – safe inside of your teivah – your word of Torah and Tefilah – (prayer).

7. Pray to Hashem, “Hashem please save me!!!! Without you I will drown and perish.”

8. Feel Hashem’s presence and experience how the waters purify the world and yourself. Imagine how each foamy wave washes over you and cleanses you from all of your worries.

9. Remember When the flood of worries tries to engulf you, have faith in G-d. Instead of drowning, you will be lifted above the water by the teivah – words of prayer and learning.

10. Feel b’Noach – at rest, in complete peace with yourself. Take a breath in, as you imagine the sound “No.” Breathe out while you imagine the sound “Ach.” Repeat five times then open your eyes.

Worries mundane matters are sometimes referred to as “the waters of Noach.” In addition to the destruction, the flood also purified the world, and brought rest – noach – to G-d. So also there is inner purpose to the worries we experience that flood our lives. The worries are meant to force us into prayer and strengthen our faith in G-d.

The story of the flood can be a positive one. The solitude, quiet and relative security on the ark guided totally by G-d’s hand can provide comfort. An ark differs from a boat in that it has no steering mechanisms. The word teivah, ark, is only used in the Torah in reference to Noah’s vessel and to the basket in which baby Moses was sent off onto the Nile. In both cases, the hope of humanity was set afloat with G-d alone to steer the course.

Bereishit 9:15.
Tikunei Zohar 138b.
Bereishit 6:8.
Yalkut Shimoni, Yesha’yahu, chapter 56, allusion 485.
Netivat Shalom, Parashat Noach, p. 51.
Babylonian Talmud, Kedushin 30b.
Bereishit 6:14.
Tehillim 37:10.
Netivat Shalom, Parashat Noach, p. 52-53.
Bereishit 7:1.
Based on Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, Ascent of Safed, w:0659/Noach.


  1. This is really beautiful. Thank you.
    Shabbat Shalom.

  2. Dear Rebbitzen Chana Bracha,

    Thank you for staying in touch and sharing this beautiful wisdom. I appreciate it very much and wish you success.

  3. Thank you both for your feedback, Wonder who you are.... hope to meet you in person in Israel or on my upcoming North America tour Feb 2013 Shabbat Shalom!

  4. Where will you be touring?? Are you coming to the Midwest at all??
    ps I loved this meditation

  5. I may be coming to Memphis TN and Atlanta
    Please write us your email so we can be in touch!