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Wednesday
Nov022016

OUT OF THE DISTURBING FLOOD WATERS AND INTO A NEW WORLD

Although leaving the exile and entering the redemption can only be according to G-d’s directive, nevertheless, when G-d sees Jews yearning for the redemption to come immediately – “we want Moshiach now!” – this itself quickens the commandment to be issued forth from G-d to “leave the ark,” to leave the exile for the true and complete redemption.

Translated by Boruch Merkur

1. It is brought in this week’s Torah reading: “And it was at the end of 40 days that Noach opened the window of the ark that he had made and he sent out the raven, etc.”

At first glance, Noach’s approach in determining whether the water had dried up is difficult to understand:

Since his entering the ark was on G-d’s command, he should have waited for G-d’s command to leave the ark. In fact, that is what eventually happened: “And the L-rd spoke to Noach, saying, ‘Leave the ark,’” and only then does it say, “And Noach left…the ark.” Thus, on what basis did Noach send the raven (and the dove thereafter) in order to determine whether the water had dried up? He was anyway not permitted to leave the ark until he was commanded to do so by G-d!

The explanation is that Noach knew that G-d had appointed him with the responsibility of overseeing the preservation of the world. Indeed, he was commanded to exert himself in the construction of the ark, bringing within it specimens “of all living creatures, of all flesh,” and to feed them throughout the entire time they remained in the ark. All this labor, designed to preserve life in the world after they were to emerge from the ark, had to be done in a natural manner, as it is said, “And G-d will bless you in all you do.” Thus, when there was the suspicion that perhaps the land had dried up and they could now leave the ark, Noach did not delay; he immediately did all that was in his power – sending out the raven in order to determine whether the earth had dried, and then, a few days later, sending the dove, and so on.

In fact, the actions of Noach and his efforts – expressing his great yearning and desire to leave the ark in order to proceed with his Divine mission – resulted in G-d commanding him to leave the ark earlier than He would have otherwise instructed.

2. The application of the above with regard to man’s service of G-d:

A flood (mabul) is symbolic of worldly matters that divert a person’s focus (hamevalbelim) away from serving G-d. The advice in dealing with this problem, according to the teaching of the Baal Shem Tov, is “enter…the ark (teiva),” referring to the words (teivos) of Torah study and prayer. A Jew must bring himself into the words of Torah and tfilla in order to be saved from the disturbing “flood waters.”

Moreover, a person must bring with him “of all living creatures, of all flesh,” taking with him, into the teiva, the very best of the world; this too should be illuminated with the light of holiness.

All the above, however, still does not suffice, for the ultimate intent is (not just to bring oneself and all his worldly interests and passions into the teiva, but also) to impact the outside world, the world outside the teiva.

But this can only be done after the flood, for the entire purpose of the flood is to bring purity to the world. Only thereafter can there be effective work done to refine the world outside the teiva, to settle the land. In fact, the world can then be brought to a greater height than it was at its origin. That is, the world no longer remains in a state of “the world was created in its entirety” (as it was in the beginning of its creation), but rises higher, attaining the state described as a “new world,” a world that leaves no possibility for another flood (as the verse states, “ “I will no longer curse the earth because of man… and I will no longer smite all living things as I have done”), for the cause of the flood – “Now the earth was corrupt “ – has been nullified. (Although even after the flood the concept of “on account of our sins we have been exiled, etc.,” still exists, the severity has been greatly diminished relative to prior to the flood, as is obvious.)

Even though this Divine service of transforming the outside world is only possible after the flood had ended, we learn from Noach that even prior to that point he attempted to determine whether the purity brought on by the flood had been achieved, which would permit them to leave the teiva in order to transform the outside world.

3. This instruction is especially relevant in the final days of exile:

The general concept of “flood” corresponds to and exemplifies the time of exile, for “mabul (flood)” is related to the word “bilbul (mixed up),” “for it mixed everything up.” The latter message is likewise expressive of the state of things in the time of exile, when everything is riddled with confusion. Nothing in the world can be seen clearly. It is impossible to perceive the creative G-dly energy within it, to see how “the entire earth is filled with His glory,” to see that the true existence of the world is a dwelling for G-d in the lower realms. In the time of exile, none of this truth is revealed. On the contrary! – as stated in Scripture, “(Woe to those who say of the evil that it is good and of the good that it is evil) those who present darkness as light and light as darkness, who present bitter as sweet and sweet as bitter.”

However, the ultimate intent of the flood, of exile, is to purify the world: “The spirit of impurity I will vanquish from the land.” And this purification must be to the extent that the sustaining of the world is in a totally new manner – “He saw a new world” – meaning to say that there remains no possibility for the world to revert to a state of exile (flood); it is a redemption that is not followed by another exile.

To this end comes the lesson from the event of the 10th of Tammuz: “And Noach opened the window of the ark, etc.”:

Even while it is still the time of exile – a state of flooding, prior to the redemption – when a Jew speculates that perhaps the end of the flood has come, and we must leave the ark and head out into the world, verily a “new world,” redemption that is not followed by another exile, a Jew must do all that is dependent upon him in order to clarify the matter. He must send out messengers – be they beast or human being – and take other similar actions, everything he possibly can to speed up the redemption.

A Jew mustn’t sit and wait until G-d commands him to leave exile and enter into the redemption (going from a state of things in the ark to that of a “new world”). When there is room for conjecture that the time to leave the exile and enter into the redemption, one does all he can in order to hasten the redemption.

Although leaving the exile and entering the redemption can only be according to G-d’s directive, nevertheless, when G-d sees Jews yearning for the redemption to come immediately – “we want Moshiach now!” – this itself quickens the commandment to be issued forth from G-d to “leave the ark,” to leave the exile for the true and complete redemption.

(From the address of Shabbos Parshas Chukas, 10 Tammuz 5745, bilti muga)

 

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