There are several reasons why Hashem saw fit to wipe out humanity.
The most obvious reason is sin. Dor HaMabul was a very sinful generation.
They led lives of ease & luxury—and they went against Hashem without turning back.
But He could've wiped out humanity with a pandemic.
Why a flood?
Why a hot flood with upper & lower waters surging to entirely destroy everything: buildings, roads, utensils, structures, sculptures, books, bones, animals, orchards, fields, forests—literally everything?
Our Fascination with Our World
King Shlomo wrote that Hashem put the world into our hearts.
On the negative side, that means we focus on the material.
On the positive side, it means that we focus on the myriad wonders throughout the world—like the perfect miracle of an apple—and reflect back on the One who created it all.
In other words, we can use the world for physical pleasures & material goals or use the world for kedushah & spiritual goals.
Our attraction to the world is either a trap or an opportunity; it depends how we use it.
Where is Hashem in All This?
They tricked each other out of things worth less than a penny & fought over territory and more significant possessions.
The Me'am Lo'ez says that wheat grew tall with kernels the size of melons.
Because of the difficulty of harvesting such heavy-duty wheat, Hashem caused a wind to come & blow out the kernels so the people could easily gather them from the ground.
They didn't even need to thresh their wheat.
He made life so easy & bountiful for the people, yet they ignored Him.
Rav Miller advises us to include Hashem in our conversations more, like at the dinner table.
Even if we feel very religious & committed to Torah, Rav Miller suggests we examine how often we talk about Hashem—and how often we talk about business, politics, and other worldly matters without including Hashem?
And how much do we feel compelled to discuss our resentments & jealousies?
Sure, sometimes we need to get stuff off our chest. We need reassurance or advice.
But some of us constantly harp on the deficiencies of our spouse, in-law, parents, children, neighbors, co-workers, boss, and so on.
Appreciation or Obsession?
But Rav Miller reminds us that we can fall so in love with certain aspects that we lose focus.
Our home becomes such a part of us that we end up looking to beautify it all the time.
Making repairs & keeping it comfortable to live & function in is good. That sometimes necessitates improvements.
But if you've ever found yourself thinking obsessively (as I have) about how you'd like to rearrange the furniture or add this and buy that and so on, then that's diving a bit too deeply into This World.
Yes, sometimes you need make calculations about your home & analyze a better design in your head, but not obsessively.
Rav Miller also mentions obsession with work & hobbies.
Travel, art, sports, entertainment, cuisine, novels...
How many of us get so caught up in wedding plans that we lose sight of the very real kedushah of a new joining of souls who are setting out on a journey of self-rectification & mitzvot?
It's very normal.
Rebbetzin Tziporah Gottleib (Heller) once mentioned that sometimes women told her, "But with more children, you have more laundry"—as if it's not worth it.
True, the laundry can get overwhelming—100%! But Rebbetzin Gottleib emphasized the incomparable value of bringing a Jewish soul into the world.
It's so precious & so powerful—how can it be reduced to the amount of laundry that accompanies it?
There are so many distractions—some under the guise of pressure, some under the guise of pleasure—it's hard to maintain the true perspective.
We all struggle with this on some level.
When Nothing is Everything
It sounds depressing, but that's really the meaning of Shema Yisrael, when we declare that Hashem is our One & Only.
It's actually a beautiful, inspiring, and liberating idea (page 17):
Now, I understand that there will be opposition to this.
If you try to tell people these things they laugh at you; they’ll say it's extreme and that it’s not realistic.
“You have to be a frum Jew,” they say. “You have to daven and you have to learn Torah and do mitzvos; but to say everything is Hashem and if not, it’s hevel?! Only to think about Hashem?! Is that a life?!”
And the answer is yes; a resounding yes!
That’s the best life, the most successful life, the happiest life.
The Holy Nutter
This is the correct perspective.
An elderly Iranian-Jewish woman told me of when her mother held her newborn baby (i.e., her granddaughter) in her arms for the first time and just stood there gazing at the baby without speaking.
The woman told me in a voice full of affection, "I said, 'Mother, what are you doing?' And without looking up, my mother told me, 'I'm looking at nifla'ot haBorei'—the wonders of the Creator."
We're not so far removed from the people with the correct perspective.
We sound silly or holier-than-thou or like show-offs when we talk like this.
But it's the right way to think.
As for how we should behave, practically speaking?
We need to strike the right balance between not letting others' opinions determine our behavior & not showing off or being unusual just to be rebellious or attract attention.
Here's Rav Miller (page 18):
It’s better to be a lunatic all your life in the eyes of Mankind, in order that Hakadosh Baruch Hu should approve of you.
However, take that advice carefully.
It’s a recipe for greatness, a prescription, but don’t just stam try to be a shoteh [fool].
But either way, that’s the ideal and we’re talking now about the ideal – to see Hashem everywhere, to see Him in everything.
Some Quick & Easy Tips to Internalize This Concept
Life has a purpose, states Rav Miller.
It doesn't have to be nothing.
On page 21, I see that Toras Avigdor added a wonderful new section called Let's Get Practical.
There, you can read tips from Rav Miller about how to incorporate the lessons of Parshat Noach into yourself.
As usual with Rav Miller, it's all about very small acts that take mere seconds to fulfill, such as spending 20 seconds to replace This World with Hashem—like when you see sunlight, take 20 seconds to think that Hashem is shining the sunlight. And do this 3 times a day.
Here are Rav Miller's final words on the topic:
And because remembering Hakodosh Boruch Hu is the most important thing, it was worth it to bring a Mabul upon the world just to teach that lesson forever and ever.
The great flood came to destroy everything in order to demonstrate that all the things that people considered important until now are really nothing.
What’s left in the world? There’s nothing left to talk about, nothing to think about.
Only water on all sides, just desolation.
They were sitting in the teivah [ark] and there was nothing to do except to look out and see nothing.
And that way the progenitors of the newly built world would experience at least once that actually it’s only Hakodosh Boruch Hu that belongs in our hearts and with that understanding they would rebuild the world again.
When you say the Psalm 29 ("Havu L'Hashem bnei elim..."), and you get to verse 10 ("Hashem lamabul yashav vayeshev Hashem Melech l'olam—Hashem sat [enthroned] at the Flood; Hashem sat as King forever."), you can think of the image produced by Rav Miller's words above.
It's really good to do that because that's the meaning of the verse, which is phrased in a very pictorial way.