Short Vort of the Week


עֲשֵׂה לְךָ תֵּבַת עֲצֵי גֹפֶר קִנִּים תַּעֲשֶׂה אֶת הַתֵּבָה וְכָפַרְתָּ אֹתָהּ מִבַּיִת וּמִחוּץ בַּכֹּפֶר

Make for yourself an Ark of gopher wood; make the Ark with compartments, and cover it inside and out with pitch (6:14)

The term that the Torah uses to connate Noach’s Ark is "תיבה". This is certainly not a common word for a type of boat, so it stands to reason that the Torah is hinting to something else by using this word; what message is the Torah trying to teach us?

The Sefas Emes[1] learns that the word תיבה is specifically used because of its secondary meaning — a “word,” to teach us that just as Noach saved himself using aתיבה (Ark) so too, we can always save ourselves by using a תיבה (word), or more specifically, even one word of prayer can save each of us from whatever we are troubled with.[2]

This may sound strange to us; is it really possible for one word of prayer to have so much power as to save the entire world? Perhaps we can answer as follows: Tosefosexplains that if not for Hashem’s kindness, Bilaam would have been able to destroy the entire Jewish People using one word “כלם, Destroy them.”[3] We also know that Hashem’s trait of goodness far exceeds His trait of punishment,[4] therefore it stands to reason that if it was technically possible to destroy an entire Nation with one word[5]then it is certainly possible to save the Nation with one word!

One story that demonstrates the power of prayer and our lack of appreciation of its power is told about Rav Nachman m’Hordonka[6] who decided one day to leave his wife. His wife immediately went to the Baal Shem Tov who summoned Rav Nachman and answer for his actions. “Rebbe, I have seen in a vision that shortly after giving birth, she will die. So in order to save her life, I decided to divorce her and let her marry someone else.” “Perhaps your wife doesn’t agree,” answered the Baal Shem Tov, “let’s ask her what she thinks.” They called in Rav Nachman’s wife who said that despite her husband’s vision, she nevertheless wanted to remain married to her husband. Within a year, Rav Nachman and his wife were blessed with a baby son whom they called Simcha. Shortly afterwards the new mother became very weak and could no longer nurse the baby. When she realized that her life was in danger, she immediately prayed with tremendous fervour that she be granted life and be able to nurse her child. Soon after, she started to feel stronger and was able to nurse her child. “What a shame,” said Rav Nachman when he heard his wife’s prayer, “she only prayed for a few more years. With the intensity by which she prayed, if should would have requested another seventy years, it would surely have been granted to her!”[7]

We see from here the immense power of prayer. If only we recognized what we could achieve, surely our prayers would take on a whole new meaning, and our concentration would improve dramatically. Let us not be like Rav Nachman’s wife, let us know the power of our prayer and ask Hashem for everything we can, and remember, nothing is too big or too small for our Loving Father who only wants the best for us.


[1] 5634, 5635.

[2] In fact, one could say further that even one word of prayer or Torah can not only save oneself, but just as Noach’s Ark effectively saved the entire world, so too can one word of prayer or Torah study save the entire world!

[3] Brachos 7a.

[4] See Rashi (Shemos 20:6).

[5] And we are told that the world was only created for the Jewish People, so without the Jewish People in existence, the world would cease to exist (see Rashi 1:1).

[6] Later to be known as Rav Nachman m’Breslov

[7] As related by Rav Daniel Leeman, quoting the Gaon v’Chassid (“Ki Atta Imadi 4” p. 25)



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