Our ‘natural’ inclination is to be drawn towards materialism. Physical pleasures and possessions uplift the ‘earthly nature’ of man. R’ Yisrael Salanter ztk’l describes it beautifully when he writes:
‘Insofar as man is a physical being – ‘dust from the ground’ – his heart inclines to the material. Therefore, he desires to ‘eat, drink, and be merry.’ He loves wealth and fortune, and longs for honor and dominion. He is full of self-importance and seeks to delight in bodily comforts.’
However the base challenge remains the same regardless of how much we acquire; there is no end to ones desires. Essentially our craving is insatiable. Our wise Sages have been known to say, “No one leaves this world with even half his desires fulfilled.” A practical solution – Live a more simple life!
Let’s enclose ourselves in our personal Teiva (ark) and ask ourselves, “What do I really need in this life?” The mighty stormy flood of Noach carries us away from our true mission in life. The Alter Rebbe ztk’l, Ba’al HaTanya HaKadosh elucidates that the turbulent waters of Noach are worries concerning our parnassa (livelihood). Of course we need food, shelter, clothes and the like. But what can we live without?
Differentiate between a need to a desire. A need is vital. A desire is driven by emotions that results in a demand – I must have it! That is the warning sign that the flood waters has risen to dangerously high levels. When this occurs, we must go back into our safe haven, our ark, a life of Torah and Tefillah, and re-align ourselves back to our needs.