Noah and the Children of Hamas

The story is well-known. Man had become so corrupted that God decided to start over. Only one human, Noah, had maintained his righteousness. This was quite an accomplishment, as he went against the flow of all mankind. In doing so, he merited salvation for himself, his family, and representatives of the entire animal kingdom. The world was to be destroyed in a flood, Noah and his crew would be preserved in a floating Ark.

A consistent principle of Tora is that all punishments fit the crime, and that every remedy works on a deeper spiritual level. Thus, Noah's Ark is more than simply a lifeboat. It is a corrective for all of the ills of the society that earned destruction. How so?

There were a number of sins that the generation of the flood was guilty of. First of all, idolatry was prevalent. Second of all, sexual immorality was commonplace. Thirdly, theft and violence defined this society. If I had to choose an underlying character trait that fueled these transgressions, it would be cruelty. Idolatry presupposes a cruel god or gods who must be appeased (see the article on idolatry from last week). Sexual immorality presupposes cruelty through exploitation. The Bible says that the "Sons of the powerful ones took whom ever they wished to be their wives." They took them whether they wanted or not. Thirdly, theft and violence are certainly indicators of cruelty.

The experience of being in the Ark was an antidote to all of these sins. There was no idolatry in the Ark, only a reconnection to one God. Noah was not an idolater, nor was his family. As for sexual immorality, there were two of every species. They did not cohabit at all during the entire period of the flood, according to rabbinical tradition. Regarding theft and violence, there was none of that.

Regarding the underlying character trait of cruelty, the opposite was in force. Noah had to feed all the animals daily. They had to be fed before the humans sat down to eat. Their needs had to be cared for. This entire enterprise called for kindness and love. No one loves another human being more than its mother and father. That is because they have sacrificed greatly for the child. The more one does for others, the more one loves them and cultivates the character trait of kindness. Noah's Ark was an incubator of kindness. In truth, Noah's Ark was the ultimate act of kindness on God's part towards Noah, his family, and all the animals.

I think there is something even more significant in the Ark experience. When Noah emerges from the Ark, it is not long before he indulges in drink and becomes intoxicated. Drunkenness is usually a manifestation of depression, and I think Noah was deeply depressed. What was the reason for that? After all, God has spared him and his family, and had cast a rainbow in the heavens to promise that they would never be another flood. What was there to be sad about?

I believe that Noah's Ark represented a return to the womb for all of mankind. Inside the mother's womb, all is love and kindness. So it was inside the Ark. It was a period of complete innocence and purity. There was no cynicism, no bitterness, no sin. Life may have been cramped in there, but it was deeply beautiful.

Sometimes I look at the toys my little children play with. When I think about it, it can actually make me sad to realize that they will outgrow them. In fact, someday my children, with God's help, will reach a ripe old age. At that point, the mobile that had them squealing with joyous laughter as infants will have no significance. That made me sad. Why do we need to leave behind such a beautiful time of life, when the simplest things fill us with joy?

I am guessing that this is the reason Noah was sad. The innocence of the Ark was going to fade, and he knew it. He chose to escape to another "beautiful" place, alcoholic stupor. Everything is happy, everything is simple. In that stupor, Noah took off all his clothes. Was this a subconscious attempt to return to the womb?

This might also explain Noah's reaction to his son, Ham, who saw his nakedness. He cursed him to be a slave to his brothers. Perhaps he saw in Ham's reaction the cynicism that would lead to renewed corruption in the world. Better he'd be subservient to his righteous brothers, who represented a better chance for humanity.

But was Noah's sadness and fear justified? Perhaps not, and perhaps one aspect of the Ark provides the hope that could've spared Noah his depression. The aspect was a special window, or a glowing stone, that was called a "Tzohar." Whether it was a stone or a window, I believe it represents the same thing: spirituality. If it was a glowing stone, it illuminated life inside the Ark, just as the soul illuminates the body. If it was a window, it provided a glimpse of heaven, which inspires spirituality.

According to tell music legend, and angel is present inside the womb when every fetus develops. It teaches the fetus the entire Tora. Just as the child is to be born, the angel touches the baby on the lip and causes him to forget everything he had learned. What is the point of that? To imbue the child with deep spirituality. It's not the details of Tora that is important for a baby, it is the thirst for it. The baby will want to reacquire that spirituality just as any person wishes to recover a lost precious object.

Thus, spirituality is the key to eternal purity and happiness. To maintain the joy of the womb into adult life we must be spiritual people. Cruelty is a physical character trait, predicated on causing physical and emotional hurt. Lust is a physical character traits, seeking to acquire physical pleasure and possessions. Kindness, however, is a spiritual trait where the person denies themselves in order to help others. The tzohar and the kindness required by the running of the Ark provides a spirituality to the rebirth-womb experience of mankind. Let us be spiritual people.