Parsha Noach; Noah’s ark
After 40 days and 40 nights of solid rain, and much longer for the earth to dry and reach normal water levels, the dove finally doesn’t return and Noach knows that the land is now dry land. He takes off the cover of the ark and knows it for himself. HaShem tells him ‘go out of the ark’ (8;16) [tzeh min hateivah] and Noach gladly obeys orders and steps out onto land. The question to be asked here, however, is why did Noach need to wait for HaShem to command him to leave the ark - the ark was a means to survive the flood and thus once the flood was over, the natural thing to do would be to disembark. [Picture the scene; you have landed at Ben Gurion 30 minutes ago, and are waiting next to the terminal with the aircraft doors open…and everyone sits there patiently waiting for the air stewardess to tell people that it’s ok to undo seatbelts and get off the plane. It just doesn’t happen!]. Why did Noah wait for a command?
To repeat an approach to this question, let’s first start with an introduction (the answer I heard from Rav Shishar, but the introductions to it are from various places). A given punishment is not merely a repercussion of having sinned, but corrects the sin and is related to it. It is hand picked to match the sin committed. There are numerous demonstrations of this (see the brisker rav on parshas yisro regarding the punishments of Iyov and Bilam and how they related to their sins). [The Maharsha (Sanhedrin) says that one cannot use a kal vachomer to learn that a certain punishment should be given from the punishment of a lesser sin (ein onshin min hadin), for one might not arrive at the correct punishment with the correct amount of kapara for the sin committed by using this method.] So too can one receive reward for having lived through the punishment and learnt his lesson; as Rabbi Frand points out with Shimshon asking HaShem for the merit of one of his eyes that were poked out, despite the fact that the eyes being poked out were a punishment for running after Delilah’s physical beauty. This is because Shimshon was asking for the reward for having successfully gained from internalising the punishment and its lessons.
Let’s apply this to Noach. There are several sources which compare Noach and Avraham Avinu, and find that Avraham was spiritually higher than Noach. Thus, whilst the 10 generations from Adam until Noach ended with flood, the subsequent 10 generations ended with Avraham Avinu getting all of their merit. (Pirkei Avos 5;2-3). Chazal tell us that a principal distinction between the two is that whilst Noach was content with his personal spiritual lot (‘noach’ means contentment/comfortableness), Avraham went and recruited for ‘HaShem’s army’ - he was an av hamon goyim (father of many peoples) and called out to them all in the name of HaShem. (Perhaps this was as a result of Rashi’s comment [6;9] that whilst Noach needed prompting/supporting by HaShem, Avraham’s tzidkus was strong enough to stand up by itself.] Anyway, to put it crudely, Noach was a less giving character than Avraham was; Avraham was a man of chessed and shared his physical and spiritual tools with anybody he could, whilst Noach did not busy himself with aiding the world in its spiritual plight.
Thus, the ark was the perfect condition for Noach to be put into to work on himself and overcome this to develop into an ish chesed. How? For the ark was miraculously contained animals of all species, which Noach had to feed day and night. Imagine; a 24-hour a day intensive chesed course! And Noach did not sleep in the ark; he was busy feeding and taking care of the animals; as well as his family. So the ark was not merely a vehicle to prevent Noach drowning; it was also a means to sow the seeds to create a new world based on a pillar of chesed, which Noach was going to take centre stage in. Consequently, at the end of the flood when the land was visible and the water had dried, Noach had to wait for HaShem’s command to exit the ark, for though the flood was over, who said the chesed course had finished. And HaShem said tzeh min hatievah; go out, the course is over. In fact, others explain that tzeh min hatievah means that HaShem was telling Noach to go out and practice what he had learnt in the ark in the outside world; not just to go out (tzeh), but to remember where he came from; Hataivah, which explains nicely why the point of origin (‘the ark’) is used and is not superfluous.



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