Noach: Torah Themes

Protector of The Ark

The Torah tells us that Noach build an Ark of large proportion. The measurements of the Ark have always fascinated me. Why is it so crucial for us to know that it was 300 (height) by 50 (width) by 30 (height) Amos? What difference does that make?!

In order to answer this, we must first explore another question. What did the Ark accomplish? With sulfur and boiling water raging from heaven how could a mere wood structure survive?

The Yalkut Reuveni brings down an amazing answer to both of these questions. He explains that the essence of the Ark’s protection did not lie in the materials that formed it. Rather, it was the fact that you relied upon Hashem to save you! The mere wood did nothing! The belief in Hashem was what it was all about!

He then shows how the measurement hint to the name of Hashem (י-ה-ו-ה). Yud (10) multiplied by Hey (5) is 50 (the width). If you multiply that result by the letter Vav (6), you get 300 (the length). Vav (6) times Hey (5) equals 30 (the height)! See Mishley (18:10), “The Tzaddik (which hints to Noach!) runs to find refuge in Hashem”. The Ark’s very construction expressed its key to protection. An unwavering reliance in Hashem is a guarantee for salvation and success.

This also explains why the Mesoric note capturing the number of verses in the Parsha (153) is “בצלאל”. This word means, “in the protection of Hashem”!

Noach Moshe and Early Prayer

It is brought down in Sefer Hatikunim that originally Hashem brought down the soul of Moshe into Noach. That is why the first time Noach is talked about he is called an “ish tzaddik, righteous man.” This hints to Moshe who was called a tzaddik (See Rambam Teshuva 5:2 – “Everyone can be a tzaddik like Moshe”). When Moshe’s soul left Noach, Noach is then called, “a man of the earth.” At the time of Noach he failed to daven on behalf of the generation and this was a complaint against him. However, when the Jews were in trouble after they served the Eigel, Moshe davened on their behalf and saved them. He said, נא מחני, [If You (Hashem) don’t forgive them, then] erase me from your Torah.” The words “erase” me spell “נח מי, the waters of Noach”. Moshe thus made up for that time when he did not pray, and instead invested himself fully in saving the Jews, giving up his very existence if Hashem would not agree to his request.

This fits in with that which the seforim write that Hashem changed man’s lifespan to be from hundreds of years to be only 120 in the time before Noach. The verse states (Bereishis 6:3), “בשגם הוא בשר, because he is human.” Chazal (Chulin 139b) say that Beshegam (355) has the same numerical value of Moshe (355). Thus hinting to Moshe’s presence in that time period and hinting to Moshe’s 120-year life.

The Midrash Haneelam states that when Noach emerged from the ark after the Flood, he saw all the destruction and cried out to Hashem, “You are called the Merciful One, why did you not have mercy on the people?” Hashem replied, “foolish shepherd, that is what you should have said when I told you the Flood was coming, not after the fact.” Noach then understood and he prayed to Hashem and offered sacrifices.

Midrash Haneelam continues to say that the verse says that three “reyach, smells” from the sacrifices went up before Hashem. These smells refer to the small of 1) his olah offering, 2) his prayers and 3) his actions.

Putting all this together, it is important to understand that Hashem created the world in a manner in which the actions of man impact how He interacts with the world. The original world was created as one of din, justice, and so there was no way to forgive and push off the punishment for the sinners. They were given 120 years to repent and simply did not care. It was only when the Flood destroyed the world and Noach came out to establish a new world. One of mercy, in which Hashem gave the rainbow as a promise that He would never again destroy the world, despite the actions of man.

Noach was part of a world of din and so he was unable to pray for people who did not deserve to life due to their sins. Moshe’s purpose was to perfect the Jewish people in a world of mercy, this was something that he was able to do.

The Vilna Goan writes (in Mishlei, based on Tikkukei Zohar 234b) that Moshe’s soul is found in every tzaddik and leader of each generation. To take this further, it can be understood that when Moshe’s soul joined with Noach it was unable to pray and save the world due to the status of din. It was only after the world was destroyed and started again on chessed that Noach would now pray and that Moshe would be able to save the Jewish nation after the Eigel, with his prayers.

We see the importance of praying and turning to Hashem. As Chazal tell us, “one should always precede the prayer before the trouble.” When we daven to Hashem, especially in Shemoneh Esrei, we are asking Hashem to take care of our every need.

Some commentators ask why we pray “Refainu Hashem, please heal us.” Let’s say someone is not sick, how can he say those words? Some answer that we all know someone who is sick, physically or emotionally, and so we are praying for them. Others say that it refers to small ailments like colds or aches which we all have. Other’s say that it should be translated as “please keep us healthy.” According to Chazal’s advise above, it is simply a prayer before the trouble hits. We want to have as many prayers for parnassah, brains and wellness stored up before we even need to ask Hashem from a place of dire need. When we daven, Hashem hears our tefillos and we should never underestimate the power of our prayer. Had Noach davened, it would have saved or at least delayed the destruction of the entire world!

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