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Posted on October 28, 2022 (5783) By Rabbi Label Lam | Series: | Level:

Make for yourself an Ark (Teva) made of gopher wood; you shall make the Ark (Teva) with compartments, and you shall caulk it both inside and outside with pitch. (Breishis 6:14)

[When] she could no longer hide him, she took [for] him a basket (Teva) made of reeds, smeared it with clay and pitch, placed the child into it, and put [it] into the marsh at the river’s edge. (Shemos 2:3)

It is a fascinating fact that both Noach and Moshe were floated to safety in something called a Teva. The word Teva can mean a word. What is the connection? A word is a vessel that carries and conveys an idea just like an ark bears its precious cargo. They serve similar functions. There is a deeper implication here and that is that both Noach and Moshe were saved by a word. What in the world could that possibly mean? Which is the word that creates a safe haven in a stormy world?!

I have a number of theories but let us try on a direct quote from Shlomo HaMelech the wisest of all men, “The name of HASHEM is a tower of strength, the righteous run into it and are secure.” (Mishlei 18:10) That word would be the name of HASHEM!

Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin writes in the third gate of Nefesh HaChaim the following sublime promise: “And truthfully, this is a great matter and a wondrous treasure that takes him out of the realm of any other judgments and the desires of others, so that they can’t control him, nor make any impression at all. When a person fixes it in his heart/mind to state, that after all:

HASHEM is the true G-d and there is no other power in the universe nor in all the worlds at all other than Him, and everything is filled only with His (blessed be His name) simple unity, and he, in his heart/mind, completely nullifies all others, and does not attend to any power or will in the universe, and harnesses and adheres the purity of his thoughts only to the unique HASHEM (blessed is He) then He will make it happen for him, that in any case all of the powers and desires that are in the universe will be nullified from upon him, so that they are not able to affect him in any way at all.”

This is truly remarkable but how does it work?

On the flipside of the same coin the Meor Einayim Quotes the Baal Shem Tov in Parsha Shemini and he says the following: “All of the frights even from wild animals that affect a person, it is the intention of HASHEM Blessed is He to frighten him in order that he should remember to fear HASHEM. If the person is wise and he contemplates this then nothing which is frightening to him will harm him because the original intention of HASHEM to frighten him was not to punish him through the fright., but rather to but rather that the fright should bring him to fear HASHEM and so the man did. However, if the person does not think deeply about this and does not come to fear HASHEM then that which he is afraid of will bring harm upon him.”

The person who has aligned his thoughts and feelings with the Creator of the Universe and is completely nullified in His to His glorious presence is not in need of being frightened and reminded of where he needs to be. He is there already! Maybe that’s why one of the names that is used in reference to HASHEM is HaMokem, literally the place, because that’s the ultimate destination. Where are we going!? What are we looking for!? Where are we!?

I once heard from Rabbi Shimshon Pinchus zl. that he missed his connecting flight to Israel during a brief stopover in London. The loudspeaker was announcing, “The gate is closing. Last call for flight xyz.” He was Davening Mincha at the time and he didn’t hurry even a little bit. It was a major headache for him to get another flight and reunite with his luggage again in Israel, when he was asked why he didn’t Daven a little faster to make his plane, he said, “Where am I going!? I am with HASHEM!” Amazing! His journey, on that particular expedition and in his life, was not a horizontal excursion but rather it was a vertical orientation.

If someone has everything in the world but lacks HASHEM then by definition that person is in hot water. Someone who is attached to HASHEM and yet he has nothing else in this world, finds himself in the safest place.