(Torah Portion: Noach) The Actual Apprentice
Noach warned the wicked people of his generation that if they did not repent a flood would destroy the world. Noach was busy with the construction of the ark for one hundred and twenty years. Finally the dreadful day arrived; the flood which Noach had been warning the people about began.
The Torah points out that Noach and his family entered the ark in broad daylight. Rashi explains that the sinful people of the generation proclaimed “When we see Noach entering the ark, we will destroy the ark and kill Noach.” G-d therefore commanded Noach to enter the ark in broad daylight so that they would all observe him entering, proving that G-d’s Will prevails over theirs.
Rabbi Yaacov Kamenetzky o.b.m. doesn’t understand their logic. They heard Noach warning of the flood for many years, and the rains of the flood were now actually beginning to fall. How could they possibly be so shallow, and not repent and plead to G-d for mercy? It’s all happening and developing before their eyes!
Says Reb Yaacov, we see from this that as realistic and convincing as something may be, G-d fashioned human nature with the capacity of freedom of choice, so that even when the Hand of G-d is evident and even when certain danger is clear, one has the ability to ignore and rebel. The same is true with regard to the Egyptians who witnessed G-d splitting the sea for the Jews, yet they ignored their imminent demise and insensibly entered the sea.
On the flipside, G-d instilled an amazing ability within those who choose to believe in His word and His ever present Watchful eye, to be undeterred in their steadfast belief no matter what obstacles and challenges they face. Noach was such a person.
Noach cared for the animals and creatures in the ark, working for a complete year non-stop. The earth finally dried from the effects of the flood and G-d instructed Noach and his family to emerge from the ark.
This was the first time since the flood began that Noach had a moment to absorb the magnitude of devastation, ruin and desolation of the world. The Zohar – Kaballa relates that Noach began to sob and weep over the destruction and then he prayed to G-d.
Noach was blessed with the inner strength to compose himself and look ahead. He then offered sacrifices to G-d. G-d appreciated the fragrant aroma of the sacrifices and promised not to flood the entire world again.
Noach was the epitome of resiliency; immediately after the flood he wished to expand his family and start rebuilding the world.
While on this subject, I want to relate something about Mr. Moshe Tepfer, my brother in law’s father, who passed away last week. Mr. Tepfer went through war, suffering through the intense hardships of the Hungarian labor camps. After the war, he witnessed the desolation and dispersion of the Jewish people and communities in Europe, and heroically forged forward; he married and raised a beautiful family and built a successful business. (Mr. Tepfer had business dealings with Mr. Fred Trump. Mr. Tepfer would take delight in relating that during one such meeting, Fred instructed his young son Donald, to make him a cup of coffee!)
He was a man who always gave a warm greeting accented with his ever present and wonderful smile.
He always had candies and toys with him which he would distribute to children he encountered.
He explained that he always had in mind the image of the war ridden communities bereft of children after the war, and the sight of Jewish children was a sign of rebirth after the desolation he witnessed. He expressed his appreciation by showering the children with goodies.
It has been 4115 years since the beginning of the flood, yet we still periodically have an encounter connected to the flood – when we see the exquisite rainbow in the sky. This is the sign of G-d’s agreement that He will never again flood the entire world!
Wishing you a most uplifting, peaceful
and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks