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יום הכיפורים תשפ"א באתר ישיבה
Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Noach

Parashat Noach

Time to Leave the Ark

Noach leaves his home and enters the ark only after the floodwaters are lapping at his door; Only after G-d directly orders him to do so, does Noah go. Was this proper behavior?; “Tzai min hateiva!”.
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"To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heavens " Koheleth 3:1
"There was a time for Noah to enter the ark...and a time for him to leave..." Koheleth Rabbah 3:1

Although Noah had advance warnings (120 years) and a precise forecast (7 days) of when the "mabul" would strike, he leaves his home and enters the ark only after the floodwaters are lapping at his door. Perhaps Noah was one of those of "little faith" who doubted that the catastrophe would really occur (Rashi on Gen. 7:7). But it is quite understandable that people become so attached to their surroundings that they are reluctant to uproot themselves even in the face of credible threats. We have seen this happen many times in our history as a people.

But if Noah’s entrance to the ark is instructive, his exit is even more so. Once the rains cease and the waters recede, Noah tests to make sure the outside is safe yet he does not leave the ark! Only after G-d directly orders him to do so, does Noah go. Was this proper behavior? Rabbi Yudan said: "If I was in Noah’s place I would have broken down the door and left!" (Yalkut Shimoni)

Perhaps the ark can be seen as a metaphor for the lands of Exile where Jews have taken refuge. Once the stormy waters have receded and the road to home is open, do each of us really need a personal invitation from G-d to leave the "galut"? Surely over 50 years of vibrant Jewish statehood, with over 5 million Jews and Jerusalem the capital, is sign enough that Jews are being called home. Indeed there seems to be a tone of impatience in G-d’s curt call to Noah: "Tzai min hateiva!" (Gen 8:16) as if to say "For heaven’s sake, what are you waiting for!!"

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