A Place To Be
"And it came to pass after the seven-day period that the waters of
the Flood were upon the earth"(7:10)
According to most Halachic opinions "shiva", the seven day
mourning period observed after the death of a close relative, is not a
Torah-mandated obligation, rather a Rabbinical institution. Rashi cites
an allusion to shiva from this week's parsha. After Noach completed
construction of the Ark, Hashem delayed the onset of the rains for seven
days. Rashi cites the Midrash which states that Hashem waited until after
the righteous Metushelach passed away, before punishing the world. The seven
days preceding the flood was the shiva period observed after his passing.
It is customary to comfort a mourner with the statement "Hamakom yenachem
eschem besoch she'ar aveilei Tzion v'Yerushalayim" - "Hashem (lit. "the
Place") should comfort you among the rest of the mourners of Zion and
Jerusalem". Hashem has other names, such as "Rachum" or "Chanun" which
reflect His mercy and compassion, and they would therefore seem more
appropriate for this occasion. Why do we use the appellation "Makom" -
"Place" in this case? How is this statement a source of comfort for a mourner?
Regarding Hashem, the Midrash states "M'komo shel olam v'lo Ha'olam mekomo"
- "the world is contained within Hashem's space and not Hashem within the
space of the world". Our Sages are teaching us that space was not a
preexisting reality. Rather, when Hashem brought the world into existence,
He created the reality of space. Consequently, Hashem does not exist within
space; space exists within Hashem's reality.
The name of Hashem which reflects this notion is "Makom" - "Place". It is
therefore appropriate to specifically use the appellation "Makom" when
comforting a mourner. The sense of loss precipitated by the death of a loved
one stems from the feeling that the deceased no longer exists within the
same reality as the living. In times when long distance communication was
non-existent, the migration of a family member to a distant country would
not invoke the same sense of loss as the loss brought on by death, for there
is comfort in knowing that a loved one continues to exist within the same
space as us. The appellation "Makom" is reflective of the notion that
everything is within Hashem's space. Therefore, even though the departed has
left our own perceived reality, he continues to exist within Hashem's
created reality. Although he may be on a different plane of existence, he
continues to share the same space as us. This concept is a great source of
comfort to the bereaved.
1.Yoreh De'ah 398:1
4.Bereishis Rabbah 68:9
The Holy Ark
"two by two they came to Noach..." (7:9)
In this week's parsha, Hashem instructed Noach to build a
"teivah" - "ark". When the teivah was completed, the animals and birds came
to Noach on their own volition. Citing a Midrash, Rashi states that only
those animals that remained faithful to their species, not corrupting their
way, were accepted by the teivah. Presumably, it was Hashem who
instructed Noach as to which animals to permit aboard. Why does Rashi phrase
his comments in a manner which implies that the teivah determined whether or
not to permit entrance to the animals? Why does the Torah dedicate so many
verses to the description of the teivah? What is gained by our knowing each
detail of the teivah's construction?
The Midrash cites a verse from Koheles which states "When the spirit of the
Administrator is upon you, leave not your place". The verse, explains the
Midrash, is alluding to Noach who did not take leave of the teivah until
Hashem instructed him to do so by saying "Go forth from the Ark". The
Midrash concludes that Noach understood that just as he needed permission to
enter the teivah, he needed permission to take leave of it as well. Why
did Noach need authorization to leave the teivah?
The Ramban comments that the sheer number of different species of animals,
in addition to the food required to sustain them, could not possibly be
accommodated by the dimensions of the teivah. Clearly, the entire voyage was
of a miraculous nature. Living under miraculous conditions translates
into a greater manifestation of Hashem's presence. The teivah was a vehicle
which housed Hashem's presence and contained tremendous levels of "Kedusha"
- "sanctity". The Roke'ach makes the connection between the teivah and the
Aron Kodesh used to house the Torah, which is also referred to in the Talmud
as a teivah. Since this was such a holy place Noach needed permission to
enter and take leave of it. This message is delivered by the Midrash when it
cites the verse "When the spirit of the Administrator (i.e. Hashem's
holiness) is upon you, leave not your place".
The Holiness of the teivah would not tolerate any animals that had corrupted
their way. Therefore, Rashi states that only those animals that remained
faithful to their species were accepted by the teivah. Throughout the Torah
we find that when a place or vessel is being constructed to house Hashem's
Kedusha, the dimensions and descriptions of the item are recorded in great
detail. Similarly, the Torah elaborates upon the construction of the teivah.
Traditionally, at the end of each parsha a word is formed containing the
numerical value of the number of verses in it. This word is known as the
"siman" and alludes to an important theme discussed in the parsha. Parshas
Noach has the siman "Betzalel", who was the architect of the Mishkan and the
individual who built the teivah which housed the "luchos" - "Decalogue".
5.Bereishis Rabbah 34:4
7.Sefer Haroke'ach Parshas Noach
8. This point was made by R'Yoseif Zemel, a rebbe in the Mechina.