A new world begins - Changes begin from within

Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald

The Parsha in our everyday life - Noah - 5781


The generation of the flood brought the world to unprecedented corruption. After "ten generations from Adam the first man"

הִשְׁחִ֧ית כָּל־בָּשָׂ֛ר אֶת־דַּרְכּ֖וֹ עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃

"for all flesh had corrupted its ways on earth" (Bereshit 6:12),

כִּֽי־מָלְאָ֥ה הָאָ֛רֶץ חָמָ֖ס "for the earth is filled with lawlessness" (ibid. 11);

The human race lost faith in G-d and degenerated into ‘Idolatry’, immersed itself in hedonism, prostitution and sexual promiscuity:

בכל מקום שנאמר במקרא לשון "השחתה" אינו אלא דבר ערוה ועבודה זרה

“Anywhere that the term corruption is stated, it is referring to nothing other than a matter of licentiousness and idol worship”. (Sanhedrin 57a)

And the destruction of the family unit:

אֲפִלּוּ בְהֵמָה חַיָּה וָעוֹף נִזְקָקִין לְשֶׁאֵינָן מִינָן

For all flesh had corrupted — even cattle, beasts and fowl did not consort with their own species (Rashi Bereshit 6:12)

מלמד שהרביעו בהמה על חיה וחיה על בהמה והכל על אדם ואדם על הכל

“With regard to the verse: “For all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth” (Bereshit 6:12), Rabbi Yoḥanan says: This teaches that the people of the generation of the flood mated male domesticated animals with female undomesticated animals, and male undomesticated animals with female domesticated animals, and all male animals with human females, and human males with all female animals.” (Sanhedrin 108a)

A generation that was disgusted morally and socially, with looting, violence and corruption “and the earth was filled with violence — means robbery”. (Rashi pasuk 11)

Compared to his contemporaries, Noah, אִ֥ישׁ צַדִּ֛יק תָּמִ֥ים הָיָ֖ה בְּדֹֽרֹתָ֑יו׃

“Noah was a righteous man; he was blameless in his age” (ibid. pasuk 9), therefore he מָ֥צָא חֵ֖ן בְּעֵינֵ֥י ה' “Noah found favor with Hashem”.  (ibid. pasuk 8).

He was the only person who could be the 'projector' for 'fixing the world', and prevent the flood and catastrophe.

The focus around which the repair campaign was to take place, was the demonstrative construction of the ark in the public domain, in the 'City Square'. At this point the ark was a demonstrative visual exhibit designed to illustrate to the world what awaits if it does not take its fate into its own hands, and does not mend its ways:

וְלָמָּה הִטְרִיחוֹ בְּבִנְיָן זֶה? כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּרְאוּהוּ אַנְשֵׁי דוֹר הַמַּבּוּל עוֹסֵק בָּהּ ק"כ שָׁנָה, וְשׁוֹאֲלִין אוֹתוֹ מַה זֹּאת לְךָ, וְהוּא אוֹמֵר לָהֶם עָתִיד הַקָּבָּ"ה לְהָבִיא מַבּוּל לָעוֹלָם, אוּלַי יָשׁוּבוּ:

“why, then, did he burden him with this construction of the Ark? So that the men of the generation of the Flood might see him employed on it for 120 years and might ask him, “What do you need this for”? and so that he might answer them, “The Holy One, blessed be He, is about to bring a flood upon the world” — perhaps they might repent” (Rashi pasuk 14)

And if the repair project fails, the ark will serve as a refuge for the survivors of the old world. The prolonged construction process was indeed accompanied by Noah's attempts to repair the people of his generation.

But in the flood generation, people were immersed in their corruption and did not heed Noah's warnings. Demonstrations in the ‘City Square’ cannot bring about significant change processes. The display of the ark placed in the ‘City Square’ was met with ridicule and contempt. The men of the generation of the flood did not allow the catastrophe to confuse them.

That doomed the ‘Old World’, with no improvement or modification, and was left to be completely destroyed.

The flood swept it all away.

However, at the same time, it also cleansed, purified and refreshed the world from its filthy impurities.

From now on, Noah's job is to build a 'new world' that is corrected and more advanced than the previous one:

כָּל מִי שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בּוֹ הָיָה, רָאָה עוֹלָם חָדָש... נֹחַ...

"Whosoever, of whom it is said was, saw a new world… Noah…” (Bereishit Rabbah 30:8)

"Because 'was' means that it will have a new reality, a new creation" (Yefe Toar, ibid).

The ark has been transformed from an alert 'display' to a survival shelter for those who will be the founding nucleus of the 'new world'. The convergence within the ark, inside, for about a year, made possible the processes of repair and 'detoxification' from the diseases of the 'old world':

נח בכניסתו לתיבה נאסרה לו תשמיש המיטה… וביציאתו הותרה לו תשמיש המיטה ... ע"י ששימרו יחסיהן זכו להנצל מן התיבה

“When Noah entered the ark he was forbidden to have intercourse… And on his way out, he was allowed to have intercourse again… By preserving their relationships, they were saved from the ark…” (Yerushalmi Ta'anit 1:6)


There, in the ark, ‘a new world’ begins: 'Surely, we know from the words of Rabbi Isaac Luria Ashkenazi, commonly known as "Ha'ARI Hakadosh", (Yalkutei Torah on this Parsha) “The ark for Noah was kind of a renewed pregnancy for the new world, and the exit from the ark was kind of a rebirth” (Be’er Mayim Chayim from R’ Chaim of Chernovitz, Noah).

When the process was completed Noah was commanded to come out of the ark, to be born again, and to continue building the new world:  

לַכֹּ֖ל זְמָ֑ן וְעֵ֥ת לְכָל־חֵ֖פֶץ תַּ֥חַת הַשָּׁמָֽיִם׃ זְמַן הָיָה לְנֹחַ לִכָּנֵס לַתֵּבָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (בראשית ז, א): בֹּא אַתָּה וְכָל בֵּיתְךָ אֶל הַתֵּבָה, וּזְמַן הָיָה לוֹ שֶׁיֵּצֵא מִמֶּנָּה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: צֵא מִן הַתֵּבָה

“A season is set for everything, a time for every experience under heaven” (Kohelet 3:1)

there was a time for Noah to enter the ark, as it is written:

בֹּֽא־אַתָּ֥ה וְכָל־בֵּיתְךָ֖ אֶל־הַתֵּבָ֑ה

'come you and all your house into the ark (Bereshit 7:1), and a time for him to leave it: צֵא מִן הַתֵּבָה Go forth from the Ark”. (Bereshit Rabbah 34:6).

At the entrance to the ark they were required to be separated, the men:  אַתָּ֕ה וּבָנֶ֛יךָ “and you shall enter the ark, with your sons”,

and only then the women:           וְאִשְׁתְּךָ֥ וּנְשֵֽׁי־בָנֶ֖יךָ אִתָּֽךְ

“your wife, and your sons’ wives”.

But when they came out, they came out as a united and corrected family:

צֵ֖א מִן־הַתֵּבָ֑ה אַתָּ֕ה וְאִשְׁתְּךָ֛ וּבָנֶ֥יךָ וּנְשֵֽׁי־בָנֶ֖יךָ אִתָּֽךְ׃

“Come out of the ark, together with your wife, your sons, and your sons’ wives. (Bereshit 8:16)

Great revolutions, great changes, and a 'new world' are not born outside, in the city squares, in the public domain, in the media, in politics and in external 'messages'.

Great revolutions, and 'new worlds' are born inside the ark, in an inward convergence, in a deep process of human inner consciousness.

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