This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Parshat Noach (5766)
This week's section is probably the strangest story ever told.
The entire human, animal and bird population of the world (save a few that got into the ark) got drowned by the Creator of the universe! Because they got Him angry!
But even stranger is; what is this story doing in the Torah? The Torah is the book of the Jews and the flood story contains no commandments or Jewish messages or even one Jewish characters. Indeed, the first Jew, Abraham, was born three hundred years after the flood!
It would have sufficed to give it a line or two at the end of the previous section. Why a complete section in such great detail.
Even more remarkable is the fact that the Zohar (a basic work of Jewish Mysticism) and other 'Midrashim' find secret references to Moshiach and the future redemption (The most important topic in Judaism) in almost every of these details; perhaps more than in any other section of the Torah.
For instance: Noah's name (which means comfort) being repeated twice in the first sentence hints at how he brought comfort to this world and the world to come; i.e. the days of Moshiach.
The flood itself is reminiscent of how the Moshiach will flood the world with the awareness of G-d.
The peace that reigned between the animals in Noah's Ark is a foretaste of the redemption when the wolf will lie with the lamb.
The Dove that Noah sent out, the rainbow that appeared after the flood, the new covenant G-d made not to destroy the world, the new world that Noah established.... all hint at the same thing; Moshiach.
But at first glance this is also not understood.
It is a basic principle of the Torah that the redemption depends solely on the Jewish people and the Moshiach himself must be Jewish.
So why do all these 'hints' appear in a 'non-Jewish' portion?
Here is a story that I just heard this evening that will help us to understand.
Rabbi Benyamin Klein was one of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's personal secretaries and has many fascinating stories to tell. Here is one of them that was heard at a wedding last year.
A well known Jewish lecturer-professor (the person who told me the story did not remember his name or personal details) was very dedicated to the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
He had had several private audiences with the Rebbe since the seventies and now was accustomed to visit the Rebbe's grave (called the 'Ohel') in the Montifiori Cemetery every time he was in New York.
Two years ago he flew to New York to give a lecture to a group (It seems that he lived in Europe). They sent a driver to pick him up from the airport and after the lecture he told the driver that on the way back to the airport he wanted to stop in at the 'Ohel' for just five or ten minutes to pray at the place of the Rebbe.
The driver became interested and began asking questions. As it turns out the driver was Jewish. He admitted that he had never in his life done anything Jewish but nevertheless he was sure that both he and his wife were Jews and their parents were Jews.
The driver wanted to go to the Ohel as well. He asked the Professor if he could get him a ticket to enter and when he heard that it was open 24 hours a day to everyone, for free, he announced that he was going.
He parked the car, the professor gave him a Yarmulke and together they entered the cemetery and then to the grave.
As soon as they were standing there the taxi-driver closed his eyes for a moment and then burst into uncontrollable crying. His body was shaking as he held his face in his hands and wept and wept aloud like a child.
The professor was astounded but he managed to ignore the sobbing for a few moments and pray. When he finished he tapped the driver on the shoulder and they both returned to the taxi.
The driver blew his nose, wiped his eyes and started the car. "What was that?" asked the professor. "What happened? What is wrong? Why were you weeping."
"My dog!" He was barely able to say it. "Our dog, Freddy is having an operation!" his eyes were all red and puffy and almost began crying again.
"Your what?" asked the professor incredulously. "Your DOG?! Are you kidding?!" he said, covering his mouth so the driver wouldn't see his smirk, staring at him to see if it was really true. "Are you kidding? I don't believe it!!"
'Yes" the driver said sadly as he started driving. "The doctors all said that me and my wife can't have children so we adopted a dog. Such a special, wonderful dog! He is everything to us. But last week he had a stroke!" He was in tears again. "And the vet said that there's no chance he will ever be well. Best he can do is try to save his life by an operation, and he has doubts if even that will work. The operation is tomorrow and me and my wife are going crazy! That's what I prayed for; that the operation would succeed."
The professor was trying to empathize but he wasn't doing a good job, especially when he said, "Listen my friend, if worse comes to worse you can always buy another dog" and the driver began whimpering so heavily he almost had to pull over to the side of the road and stop.
When they got to the airport the professor gave the driver a nice tip together with his calling card and said. "Listen, please excuse me if I said anything wrong. I'm really interested to know what happens to your dog. Here is my number. Call me collect after the operation" and wished him the best. The driver thanked him for everything and they parted.
But a year passed and the entire incident was forgotten - almost.
One year later the professor received a collect call from New York and, not recognizing the caller and not expecting any collect calls, he didn't accept. But after the same person called five times he decided to accept the charges.
It was the taxi driver.
"Hello professor. How are you?"
"Thank G-d, fine my friend. It's been a long time. Sorry I didn't accept charges, I forgot you completely. Tell me how was the operation?"
"Thank G-d, Thank G-d. It was a miracle!! A real miracle. In fact our Freddy came back to life and is healthier than ever!! You should see him!! You have no idea how grateful we are to you and the Rebbe. He is so healthy and happy. Even the doctor said it was a miracle!!"
"Well, that is really good news. I'm so happy for you." Said the professor. "But why did you wait for a year ? Why didn't you call immediately? Why did you wait so long?"
"Well," the driver answered. "I saw back then that you really didn't understand about my dog so I figured that I wouldn't waste your money calling you collect or your time by calling direct. I figured that I had bothered you enough."
"Too bad" replied the professor. "I certainly would have liked to have heard the good news back then and I'm happy to hear it now" He hesitated a second and continued. "But, tell me, if you didn't call back then, then why are you calling now? A year later?"
The driver answered. "Ahh, that's the point.
"See, after Freddy got better my wife and I were so happy that we went back to the 'Ohel' to say thanks, and when we were there we asked one of the Chassidim what to do to show our gratitude. He said that what the Rebbe wants is for every Jew to do the commandments and he suggested that we take on at least one commandment.
"So we spoke for a while and finally decided that I would put on Tefillin every day and my wife would keep family purity, you know, going to the Mikva and all that. The Chassid even set up a time to come to our house and teach us.
"So that's why I'm calling you. After we started doing all this, keeping the Tefilin and Mikva and everything, well.... my wife got pregnant!
"That was months ago, professor, and, well, you won't believe it but today is the Bris of our son!! We had a baby boy!! Thanks to you and the Rebbe!!!
And that is why I'm calling. Maybe you don't understand dogs but I knew you would appreciate this!"
Rabbi Klein finished the story by saying that today the taxi-drive and his wife are completely observant Jews.
With this we can answer our questions. As we see from our dog story, G-d loves all His Creations. So too was Noah commanded to save the animals with his ark.
And if G-d cares for the animals how much more so He loves all humanity.
That is what the Torah is teaching us; that we too should share this love.
And even more; the very fact that this story of Noah is mentioned in the Torah gives power to the gentiles to achieve his righteousness and to create a new world as he did. In fact that is why they are called "Bnei Noah" literally the offspring of Noah.
And their framework for creating a new world is called the Seven Commandments of Bnei Noah. (See addition at the end of this essay).
And it is a commandment for the Jews to bring all the gentiles to observe these commandments (Rambam, Hil Melachim 8:10).
But nevertheless, never in the history of the world has it yet occurred, even in the days of King Solomon,
Only the Moshiach will succeed in doing it (ibid 11:4)
That is why the Zohar finds so many connections in our section to Moshiach.
And that is one of the main messages of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Up to now it was dangerous to teach a non-Jew these Noahide Commandments but now it is different. Today, not only do they want to learn and they will be grateful when we teach them (in a pleasant and friendly way) - they will be disappointed if we withhold this from them. (Purim 5747).
That is the message of this week's portion: it is easier than we think to begin to change the world and bring billions of people to serve only the Creator (Zephaniah 3:9). We just have to learn all we can and do all we can to bring....
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