Leaving the Ark and going on with life
The Parasha in the daily life – Parashat Noach 5780
Noah's Ark was a safe refuge for Noah and his family and all animals, because of the flood and storm that was happening outside. Within the closed and distinct ark, a unique microcosm was created. For a year, it underwent an empowering educational process of repairing the flood generation faults and preparing for leaving the ark to begin a new era of a corrected world. (Meshech Chochma 8:19)
At the beginning of the Parasha, Noah is referred to as אִ֥ישׁ צַדִּ֛יק תָּמִ֥ים 
"a righteous man; he was blameless"; (Bereshit 6:9).  But " Noah found favor with Hashem" (ibid 8).  וְנֹ֕חַ מָ֥צָא חֵ֖ן בְּעֵינֵ֥י ה'
Thanks to his righteousness he merited to survive the flood in the ark. At the end of the flood year and the spiritual process, he was commanded to leave the ark to the new world צֵ֖א מִן־הַתֵּבָ֑ה “Come out of the ark, (Bereshit 8:16). When he came out of the ark, his righteousness was still evident, he built an altar to G-d וַיִּ֥בֶן נֹ֛חַ מִזְבֵּ֖חַ לַֽה' "Then Noah built an altar to Hashem (ibid 20), "for his favors and salvation from the flood and the sorrow of the beasts" (Tzror Hamor ibid). And sacrifices on it: "To atone for the pondering of the heart and for the sin which he sinned, for he did not pray for his generation.” (ibid).
But later in the Parasha, his departure from the ark to the world is mentioned again, this time in connection with his failure and his spiritual descension: 
וַיִּֽהְי֣וּ בְנֵי־נֹ֗חַ הַיֹּֽצְאִים֙ מִן־הַתֵּבָ֔ה ... וַיָּ֥חֶל נֹ֖חַ אִ֣ישׁ הָֽאֲדָמָ֑ה וַיִּטַּ֖ע כָּֽרֶם׃ וַיֵּ֥שְׁתְּ מִן־הַיַּ֖יִן וַיִּשְׁכָּ֑ר וַיִּתְגַּ֖ל בְּת֥וֹךְ אָהֳלֹֽה׃
The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were… Noah, the tiller of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk, and he uncovered himself within his tent. (Bereshit 9:18-21). The act of planting a vineyard is called "Vayachel" 
עָשָׂה עַצְמוֹ חֻלִּין
ויחל [AND NOAH] BEGAN — (The word may be connected also with a root meaning “profane”) He profaned (degraded) himself, for he should have occupied himself first with planting something different). (Rashi ibid).
The scripture describes his spiritual descent from being "righteous man" to "the man of the earth": 
חָבִיב משֶׁה מִנֹּחַ, נֹחַ מִשֶּׁנִּקְרָא (בראשית ו, ט): אִישׁ צַדִּיק, נִקְרָא אִישׁ אֲדָמָה, אֲבָל משֶׁה מִשֶּׁנִּקְרָא (שמות ב, יט): אִישׁ מִצְרִי, נִקְרָא (דברים לג, א): אִישׁ הָאֱלֹהִים.
"Moses was favored for than Noah. Noah was called "a righteous man (Bereshit 6:9)", he was called "the tiller of the soil", but Moses was called "an Egyptian (Shmot 2:19)", he was called "a man of God (Devarim 33:1)". (Bereishit Rabbah 36:3)
"Man of the earth" means that Noah's interests became the "earth" and the material world: שהיה להוט אחר האדמה
"While earlier generations had planted grapevines, Noach, motivated by his desire for wine, was the first to plant an entire vineyard". (Ramban Bereshit 9:20)
His descent degraded him into drunkenness and everything that went with it: התחיל בפעל בלתי נאות ולכן נמשכו מזה מעשים אשר לא יעשו
"Since his first undertaking was an unworthy one it led to disgraceful consequences, illustrating that a small flaw at the outset of an endeavor leads to a large one in the end". (Sforno ibid). Noah's spiritual decline was neither due to his spiritual weakness, nor that the spiritual process in the ark was ineffective! A spiritual world needs perpetual nourishment like the physical world. The prolonged decline in a demanding 'material' and 'earthly' world, devoid of spiritual nourishment, caused the erosion of his spiritual world. Instead of his righteousness affecting the "earth world" - it was conquered by it.
Noah had the ability to combine being a "righteous man" with a "man of the earth": 
להתהלך את האלהים התאימה עם נטיותיו לישוב העולם כולו, איש צדיק ואיש האדמה יחד בחוברת. כינוסם של שני כשרונות הללו ביחד ההא דבר מפליא, שבדורות יותר טובים היה מבהיק הרבה יותר. אבל הנטיה האדמתית סוף סוף יש לה איזה משקל מכביד...
"His supreme inner desire to be with G-d matched his tendencies for the settling the entire world, "a righteous man" and "man of the earth" together in one… But the earthly tendency has some weight... (Shmonah Kvatzim 4:89:1) Finally, this 'oppressive weight' of the 'earthly tendency' succeded.
In the world of Kabballah and thought, 'Noah's Ark' has become a model for processes that require isolated convergence and differentiation from the general environment. Processes designed to ripen and subsequently influence the world. The Zohar resembles the "Noah's Ark" to the gathering of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and his disciples in the cave, where the process of discovering the hidden and the Zohar was written; it is interesting the flood and Noah's ark: Resembles Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai's "Idra" (The disciples of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai sat around their rabbi in the assembly in the shape of a round threshing אידרא which was similar to the place that used to concentrate wheat to make a treadmill), The repairs were instituted inside the Idra, just as the whole world was being repaired inside the ark (during the flood), etc. Inside the Ark, the world just couldn't be simplified, etc. And even the great repairs of these insights and power of the Holy upper worlds are not able to spread around the world because of the low spiritual level of the people in that generation, etc. (Musar Avicha Perek 2:1).
In our series of articles this year, we seek to address the challenge of implementing Torah in the day-to-day life. The ark model was used to conceptualize the great challenge of integration into the general society, which has a certain "exit" from the "ark" - from the surrounding religious framework; from the community, from the religious settlement, religious educational system, Yeshiva or Seminary where spiritual and empowerment processes take place. 
Integration into the general society, the army, academia, or work, where there are no sources of spiritual nourishment to such an extent, increases the chances of spiritual burnout and requires ways to cope with the challenge. The way we influence the activities of the general society and not be eroded by them.
We will try to do our part as well.

Parshat Noach

The Strategic Significance of Making a Threat Tangible

In Parshat Noach we read about the calamity of the generation of the flood, Noach and the Ark. Ten generations after the creation of the world (Pirkei Avot 5,2) the human race is in the midst of a crisis, "And G-d saw that man's evil in the world was great, and all the inclinations and thoughts of his heart were only evil all day long." (Bereshis 6:5) Humanity had reached the rock-bottom level of immorality in robbery and adultery, "And the land was filled with violence" (ibid 6:11) "Since all flesh had perverted its way on the land." (ibid 6:12)

The crisis puts a question mark on the world's right to exist in its present form. "And G-d regretted that He had created Man." (ibid 6:6) In spite of that, G-d wanted to give the world a chance to remedy and change its condition by its own power.

The Divine command to Noach to build the Ark is part of G-d's solution to the situation. "G-d said, because I am commanding Noach to build an ark and he will be working on it, people will come to him and ask, 'Noach, what are you making?' And he will answer them 'An ark! Because G-d told me that He will bring a flood upon the world because they are angering Him!' And as a result they will repent." (Midrash Tanhuma Bereshis 37).

The purpose of the "threat" of the flood was to avoid the necessity to carry it out. The Ark wasn't only intended as a refuge from the approaching flood, but it was also a shaking-up warning sign of what was to come – in order for mankind to get itself on a new path.

The construction of the Ark was a 120-year long project! And along with it, Noach had to implement a process of education and awareness which was aimed to convince the people of his generation to make a dramatic change: "This shows that Noach was a tzaddik who rebuked them, and told them words as hard as flames." (Sanhedrin 108b) But the people of his generation didn't accept his rebuke! And therefore a higher level of warning was necessary: "making the threat tangible" so that they will all see and know what will happen to the world if there will not be a dramatic change. The construction project which everyone saw included planting cedar trees for the ark and building a huge ark: "All one hundred and twenty years Noach planted cedars and chopped them down! When people asked him: Why are you doing this? He said 'So the Master of the world told me, that He is bringing a flood upon the world!'" (Bereshis Rabbah Noach)

How did the generation of the flood relate to the "threat," to the ark and to Noach? Our Sages describe several types of reactions (which probably typified different groups of people who reacted differently).

  1. 1. Ridiculing Noach and his warnings ("killing the messenger"), as if he was imagining: "They mocked him" (Sanhedrin 108b). "They said to him: No flood will come, except on your father's house (your family)!" (Bereshis Rabbah Noach)
  2. 2. Contradicting and ignoring Noach as a principled agenda - we determine our way of life, we are confident of and used to our ways. We aren't interested in the interference of the Divine way and don't need its benefits: "And they said to G-d leave us alone, and we don't want to know Your ways. What is G-d that we should serve Him, and what good will we do if we beseech Him?" (Iyov 21) They said, we don't need a drop of rain, but "a mist arose from the land…" G-d said to them: "I favored you with good and you are being arrogant before Me! I will come and make you pay the price." (Midrash Tanhuma Beshalach 12)
  3. 3. Denial and attempting to reduce the severity of the threat with so-called "solutions" to the flood: "They said, what kind of a flood will it be? If it is a flood of fire – we have something else and it's called "alita". And if He is bringing (a flood) of water: if He is bringing it up from the land – we have metal "windows" that we'll cover the land with. And if He will bring it down from the sky, we have something called "akav", and others say it is called "akash." Noach said to them: He will bring it from between the heels of your feet." (Sanhedrin 108b. In addition to Rashi's explanation there, the expression "from between the heels of your feet" can also be understood as meaning that the flood is the result of the way you are going, and it will come and wipe you out.)

Even at the last moment, when the flood began, G-d started it gradually, so that the threat will be tangible, as something that is really happening. And only when they didn't relent the flood intensified: "And there was rain on the earth" – and afterwards it says "and there was the flood." This shows that then He brought them (the rains) down, He did it with mercy, and had they repented they would have been the rains of blessing. And when they didn't repent, they (the rains) became the flood. (Rashi on Bereshis 7:12)

The construction of the huge ark and "making the threat tangible" apparently didn't work. The people of the generation stuck to their deceitful concept, ignored and denied, and the threat was carried out as a catastrophic flood that wiped out the world. In spite of this, we must remember the Divine and psychological message that was embodied in "making the threat tangible."

Many times, in order to bring about a change in dogmas and concepts (in various spiritual, ethical and military fields) which captured the heart of society, it isn't enough to describe the dangers in a verbal, abstract way, without demonstrating them. Sometimes the public is so captivated by a concept, that even making the treat tangible isn't enough to liberate it. But there are times when the ability to present the threat and make it tangible will convince the public to make the change.

Just like in other cases of people with agendas who deny and ridicule, when the threat becomes reality, at the last moment they try to the best of their ability to save themselves or to prevent others from being saved, but by then it is too late. "Since they saw that they were doomed, they tried to capsize the ark. What did G-d do? He surrounded the ark with lions and they devoured them." (Tanhuma, Noach 10) 

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