Parshas Noach 2018: Our Own “Arks”
Noach (Noah) was extremely righteous. He was particularly righteous in his time. Rashi goes so far as to say that he was righteous only in his time and had he lived in the generation of Avraham Avinu (Abraham), he would have been nothing! Nonetheless, we have to accept the fact that Noach was extremely righteous.
Noach's generation was quite corrupt. Immorality was rampant. Even the animals mated with other species of animals. There was no shame and no respect. Hashem decreed that He must wipe out the planet’s population both humans and animals. He took the most righteous man alive (Noach) and his family and instructed him to build a taivah (ark).
Noach did as G-d instructed and gathered himself and his family. Upon completion, all of them, and a pair of each kind of animal boarded the vessel. The taivah preserved them from the impending apocalypse.
G-d sent waters from the heavens and made it rain for forty days and forty nights. The Earth was completely flooded and all living beings were annihilated.
After the flood ended and the waters receded, Noah his family and all of the animals exited the Ark and began their mission of repopulating the world.
“Make an Ark of gopher wood…” (Genesis 6:14)
Rashi asks the obvious question; Hashem is G-d, why did He have to trouble Noach to build an ark (which took him one hundred twenty years) and then have him and his family stay couped up inside it for forty days? This was a massive and difficult endeavor! Couldn't He save him in a way that wasn't so difficult?
God specifically had Noach construct an ark that took so long is because G-d was giving Noach a chance to spread the word about G-d's decree. He was giving the people of the world one last chance to to correct their evil ways. However, Noach didn't quite adhere to Hashem’s wish. He gave Noach a big opportunity to save the world but he didn’t. Hashem had to punish him, in a sense, with the burden of not only constructing the taivah but taking care of the animals on the taivah as well. Truly a difficult task.
This is also why later the Torah tells us Hashem had to command Noach to leave the taivah once the waters had subsided. Why couldn't Noach just leave without any express command from Hashem? G-d needed to tell Noach that his atonement had been completed. In Hebrew we call this a Kaparah. Noach needed to complete his Kaparah.
Sometimes in life we are faced with challenges and difficulties and we just don't understand why they happen. Yet, those very struggles are given to us to repair a misdeed of our own. From amidst our suffering comes our own salvation.
It may not always be so clear but our lives are nothing more than “us” building OUR own “arks”. Like Noach, most of us will (G-d willing) spend at least the better part of one hundred years on this endeavor and in doing so, we’ll meet with many great difficulties. However, if we could just tough out the difficulties and recognize their source (Hashem) and accept them with love, that too will be part of the construction and give great strength to our own “arks”. If we build it, maintain it, and keep our mission in front of us at all times, then surely G-d will dry up the rains, end the raging storms, and deliver us to place of peace.
Have a wonderful Shabbos and weekend!
Maverick V. Peters