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.