We Fear the Unknown
Yael Eckstein | October 17, 2023
“Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives.” — Genesis 8:16
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Noach, from the name of the main character, Noah. It is from Genesis 6:9 –11:32.
When my son was a toddler, he went through a stage of not wanting to take baths. No matter how enticing I made it—adding bubbles or a new toy—he resisted bath time as if it were a plate of Brussels sprouts. Eventually, I would get him into the water. And then, ironically, he would be just as stubborn about getting out of the bath as he was about getting into it!
Thankfully, that phase passed quickly. But one thing I realized was that my son’s approach to taking a bath is a basic part of human nature. For most people, our tendency is to resist change.
In this week’s Torah portion, we read about Noah’s Ark. According to Jewish tradition, although God commanded Noah to enter the ark, Noah hesitated, and only entered when he felt raindrops on his skin. Even more startling is that after the rain stopped and the waters clearly rescinded, Noah was reluctant to leave the ark. God had to come to Noah and command, “Come out of the ark…” The very same Noah who resisted going into the ark was now hesitant to leave it.
We Fear the Unknown
This observation teaches us about our natural tendency to resist change. Our present condition, no matter what it is, 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 other 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 the most frightening thing is to never change at all.
When we are willing to step out in faith and leave our comfort zone, we can accomplish amazing things. We become better people, maximize our potential, and achieve our greatest goals. Change is uncomfortable, but necessary in our service of God—and in the end, it is always worth it!
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