Rabbi Milevsky's Thought of the Week: Noach - 5772
THE “METHUSELAH DELAY”
In the beginning of this week’s parsha, we find Noach occupied for a very long time in a construction project. The project was to build an ark for the purpose of saving the human race and rebuilding the world after the flood. Finally, in the beginning of the seventh chapter, Noach and his family are told to enter the Ark. Yet the Torah notes one last delay for a seven day period before the deluge. The rabbis tell us that the holdup was due to the seven days of mourning for Methuselah the righteous.
Noach, for a period of 120 years, tried to warn humanity that if they did not change their behaviour, the world would come to an end. Noach did not succeed in his mission over the extended period of time, so Hashem decided to give the dwellers of the planet one more week to change. However this was no ordinary week, this was the week of Shiva. The week of mourning is intended to be a time of reflection and meditation for all. Hashem took the soul of Methuselah the righteous, to grant humanity the opportunity of Teshuva. Unfortunately, the great potential of the occasion was not utilized.
Shlomo Hamelech wrote, “It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.”
We hope never again to have to visit a Shiva house however, we must remember the lesson of the “Methuselah Delay”.