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  • Hannah Swartz

D'var Torah- Parashat Noach

Almost everyone knows the premise of this week's Parsha, Parashat Noach. G-d wants to send a flood to destroy the world, so he sends Noah to build an ark and bring two of every animal aboard. It makes a great story, but there are definitely deeper levels within the story that one can analyze. The first obvious question is, what in fact was the great sin that Noah’s generation committed provoking Hashem’s seek to destroy them? The Talmud teaches us that the world was immersed in jealousy, greed, theft etc. The worst of all, Rashi explains, is that people exploited each other sexually. Hashem is known in Torah, as well as everyday life in present time, for performing miracles, so why is it that Noah had to build an ark in the first place? Let alone take 120 years to do so. The Midrash says that Hashem specifically wanted Noah to undertake an usual project, adding onto the oddity by having him construct it on the top of a mountain. This way people would ask Noah what he was doing, and maybe re-evaluate their lives as well as actions. Within those 120 years, one would think that some must have joined the “movement” and been persuaded by Noah. Not a one. Noah treated the ark as his own ticket to survival, a chance to insulate himself from the evils of society. The Kabbalists explain that the word “taiva” in Hebrew has two meanings- ark and word. Each of us wants to build our own “ark,” the best life for ourselves and our loved ones. Simultaneously, we are given the power of words to reach out and influence others. Noah was given 120 years to build his “taiva,” so to are we given 120 years (a lifetime) to do the same.

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