Ark of Potential
September 4, 2013
2nd Torah Portion, 2nd in Genesis –Noach
Genesis 6:9-11:32 (153 verses)
Haftarah – Isaiah 54:1-55:5
By Rabbi Thomas Louchheim


Disgusted with the corruption of humanity, God decides to cause a flood that will destroy the world, sparing only Noah’s family and animals that Noah gathers together.

Life starts over after the Flood. God uses a rainbow to make a symbol of the Covenant, promising never again to destroy the world by water. Noah plants a vineyard, makes wine, and drinks himself into a stupor. Ten generations pass. Speaking the same language, the people start to build a city and the Tower of Babel. God scatters the people and “confounds their language.” The portion concludes by listing the ten generations from Noah to Avram.


One– Don’t miss the boat.

Two– Remember that we are all in the same boat.

Three– Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark.

Four– Stay fit. When you’re 600 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big.

Five– Don’t listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.

Six– Build your future on high ground.

Seven– For safety’s sake, travel in pairs.

Eight– Speed isn’t always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.

Nine– When you’re stressed, float a while.

Ten– Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.

Eleven– No matter the storm, when you are with God, there’s always a rainbow waiting.

Life is like this sometimes. At times life seems filled with obstacles and adversity. Our world seems on the verge of destruction (in business, in our personal life, in Washington, D.C.); yet, we too can create an ark filled with new potential, seek new opportunities. The sun will rise and we will arise from our darkness to “begin a new line” as Shem did generations ago after the flood and the tower of Babel.


1.  Understanding you are on the same boat with others, how does that help?

2.  When a job seems too big, what motivates you to complete it?

3.  What does it mean to build your future on high ground?

4.  #9 suggests floating a while.  How can that help?  And will you still get the job done on time?

5.  #10– what do you do when you feel unqualified to complete the task?


The easiest way to fail in your goals is to let minor obstacles become infinitely large barriers. Even if you can’t see a path around your obstacle, learn to suspend your judgment and have some faith. Be stubborn in your quest to find an alternate route. Belief in an alternate route allows your brain to create one. The creative capacities of the brain are so great that they can see around virtually any obstacle.