© 2016 by Rabbi Zvi Aviner
Torah Class BLOODSHED-10/The Drama at the Ark’s Door
”Noah, get out! You and your wife, and your sons and their wives!”
1: Inventory check
The Heavenly Court has issued its verdict: Mankind would perish, and only Noah and his small family would be saved.
As the Flood clouds would dispersed, Noah would enter the Rainbow Covenant, under which we still live today. The topic of the Rainbow Covenant, as we’ll soon learn, is all about BLOODSHED and its laws. Let’s pause now and review where we stand in our studying BLOODHSED.
We started our journey with the notion that Noah’s THIRD Commandment, BLOODSHED, was first given to Adam in Eden, as a part of Adam’s Six Commandments. Since no one could kill in Eden, which was protected by the Tree of Life, the Commandment of BLOODSHED was theoretical (at the levels of Chochma and Binah, as we’ve seen.)
Then on Earth, soon as BLOODSHED became a real option, Cain stood up and killed Abel, his brother. From this first murder, the prototype of all murders, BLOODSHED spread and grew to engulf the entire society. The two camps, Cain’s Children who worshiped ELoKiM, and Shet’s Children who worshiped MERCY, committed heinous crimes, including fighting each other to the death. Tubal Cain’s gangues roamed the street raping, killing and stealing with no shame or fear. Enosh’s disciples did the same, thinking their sins were forgiven under MERCY. Their ‘hamas,’ the mixture of BLOODSHED and THEFT, sealed their fate.
During the Flood, Noah had plenty of time to ponder about the past, and the future. What should he do when the Flood would be over? Would he start civilization again, only to face another Flood down the road?
Let’s read now the text.
1: Noah’s reluctance to exit the Ark
The Flood’s waters had receded, the Ark had already rested on dry land, the raven had not return and the dove had brought him a leaf of olive tree. Vegetation on Earth had already bloomed. Yet Noah and his family did not exit the Ark!
Twenty-seven days had passed after the Ark landed, and Noah remained secluded in the Ark. Why? A famous rabbi said in a wonder: “Were I Noah, would have exited the Ark immediately!” (Midrash)
Typically for Noah, he does not speak out his heart. In fact, he never speaks. G-d talks to him, but he does not speak back to G-d, nor does he deliver any oral message to his generation. By this he is unique among the prophets of the Bible.
On the other hands, Noah speaks out louder than anyone else, by his ACTIONS. We see him standing by the Ark, facing blooming trees, yet he DOES NOT GO OUT!
Why? A good answer, that has received good answers.
1: He waited for an explicit order to exit
Since he had entered the Ark by ELoKiM’s Command, he was waiting for another command to exit. After all, this was ‘righteous Noah’ who walked with ELoKiM (Genesis 8: 9.) (Rashi.)
Indeed, ELoKiM read his heart and told him:
The Hebrew word selected here for “He told,” dee-ber, hints for a harsh tone, a command (Rashi.) Yet Noah did not comply! He changed. The Flood had changed him. Never in the past he refused ELKM’s command. Now he stood firm on his decision: he would not comply!
He would not live outside the Ark, under the harsh Attribute of JUSTICE, ELKM!
He would not live outside the Ark, unless ELKM would be more patient with Mankind in the future!
2: He wouldn’t leave YHVH’s protection
Why should he exit the Ark, where YHVH reigned in full Glory, only to live again under the harsh rule ELoKiM? In the Ark, there was neither sorrow nor death. The wolf did not prey on the lamb, and a child could play on the snake’s pit. Why should he leave that Kingdom of MERCY to live under the Angel of Death?
3: He did not want to leave the holiness of the Ark
In the same token, why should he leave the holiness of the Eternal Sabbath in the Ark, to live in the mundane World of ELoKiM?
We feel similar ‘emptiness’ when we pass from our holy Sabbath to the mundane week.
4: He feared the return of the Flood
Why should he exit the Ark, to live under the fear that the Flood would return!
He had good reasons for that fear. Mankind, his descendants, would most likely split again into the same two camps, one worshipping ELoKiM, the other worshipping YHVH. It is a part of our IDOLATRY trial, into which we are born. We have a Parent, YHVH ELKM, and as children do, we would opt for one parent over the other…
And as his experience showed him, that this predicted split would end again with ADULTERY and BLOODSHED, as well as THEFT and INJUSTICE, THE INFAMOUS hamas. What would stop the Flood from returning?
Add on this our natural, BLOODTHIRSTY HEART. Regardless our faith, Mankind would always find a reason or an accuse to kill.
Add on this his fear of his descendants. He came from Seth, Naama came from Cain, and they had been warned that such mix marriage would produce “monstrous children who threaten to destroy the world.” For 400 years they were married with no children of their own. Then, before the Flood, he and Naama took the risk and bore three sons, and no more. Their sons too were married for years having no children, out of that fear. Now, after the Flood, were he to starts civilization, who would guarantee that their offspring would not destroy the world?
Add on this the curse that Naama’s father Lemech put on his own descendants for seventy seven generations. Why then should he bring children to this cursed world?
He wanted a change in the Heavenly Court’s heart!
Standing by his Ark’s exit, Noah would not exit, unless he was promised by the Heavenly Court to have less JUDGMENT and more MERCY in it.
And if the Flood would return, let the Heavenly Court be more patient with Mankind!
2: Noah! Go out! Procreate!
But ELoKiM would not budge. Using a harsh tone (Midrash) He told Noah:
ELoKiM read his heart. He therefore ordered him to “go out you and your wife, your sons and your son’s wives,” inferring they should resume marital relationship and procreate; something they had not done in the Ark.
Had it been before the Flood, Noah would have complied. But this was another Noah standing there at the exit. Yes, he and his sons exited, but as the verse says:
and ‘his wife’ and the ‘wives of his sons’ with him…” (Genesis 8: 18)
They exited in separate genders. They were adamant NOT to procreate and NOT start civilization again, unless their worries were answered!
A new Noah
Gone was the righteous Noah who “walked with ELoKiM.” There stood a new Noah, exercising his Free Will, a mature Noah.
Where would he go now, to offer his petition and express his pleas?
3: He went to Mt. Moriah
Tradition says he built it on Mt. Moriah.
1: Because Mt. Moriah is where Adam and Eve had been born. Noah and Naama must felt as if they were new ‘Adam and Eve.’ Indeed, Noah was born naturally circumcised, like Adam.
2: Because Mt. Moriah is where Cain had killed Abel; and nothing worried Noah more than the Flood would return for new BLOODSHED among his children. He wished to show them the site of the first murder and warn them.
3: Because Mt. Moriah is where the Eastern Gate of Eden opens up. If YHVH would enter our world more than before, this would happen here, he told his sons.
4: From Mt. Ararat to Mt. Moriah
For three weeks, tradition says, Noah and his nascent family traveled silently by foot from Mt. Ararat (Asia Minor) to Mt. Moriah (near Jerusalem.) They traveled sadly, watching the empty villages and towns, now bereft of any life. Many houses were so intact that they looked as if their owners would soon return from their fields. When they arrived at Mt. Moriah they found it dry, as if the Flood had not touched it (Midrash.)
He showed them the site of the first murder
On the Mountain, Noah identified for his sons the remnants of Cain and Abel’s stone altars. He also showed them the crack in the rocky ground where Abel’s blood had seeped into the abyss under the Mountain. From that abyss, Abel’s blood resurfaced to the ground through a the small Shiloach water spring, that is still seen today on the eastern slope of Mt. Moriah, opposite of Mount Scopus.
Noah also showed his sons the valley at the southern slope of Mt. Moriah, where Abel’s blood had finally been absorbed. “This is Cain’s Hell!” he told his sons, “this is the site in the ground which had opened its mouth to absorb Abele’s blood! It should never be cultivated or built!”
He pledge to end BLOODSHED
Pointing at the very site of the first murder, Noah told his three sons:
Here is where BLOODSHED will end!”
And he told them: If you ever build nearby a city, name it “the City of Peace,” or Jeru-Shalem.
Something to ponder about: How much blood has been shed for the control of the City of Peace?
5: Noah’s Altar
The verse does not specify, but tradition says that Noah built his Altar to YHVH on Mt. Moriah, on the very site of the first murder. This is the site where Cain and Abel had built their altars. He even used their stones for his altar. Again, we do not hear any word from him. His messages are delivered by his actions.
You can say that by building his Altar like Cain and Abel, Noah fulfilled Eve’s hopes that her children would ‘purchase’ a connection to YHVH.
The shape of Noah’s Altar is important, since it has served as the prototype for all ‘kosher’ altars after him. Abraham, King Solomon, and Ezra the Scribe built their Altar on Mt. Moriah, following Noah’s design.
And his silent prayer too has become the prototype of all silent prayers after him.
And his burnt offering too has become the prototype of all burnt offerings after him.
This is why we need to learn his actions on Mt Moriah very closely.
His Altar’s shape
Noah built his Altar as a square of stones filled with the local dirt of Mt. Moriah. He told his sons:
By these ashes Adam’s sins will be atoned.”
Years later, the same words were uttered by the priests of Israel when they poured the ashes of their offering at the base of their Altar.
He also built a ramp on the southern wall of the Altar. Whoever climbs on it would face the north, meaning Mt. Ararat.
6: Noah’s silent burnt-offering
And he offered burnt offering on the Altar” (Genesis 8: 20)
Without being ordered to do so, Noah offered BURNT OFFERINGS. He selected the sacrifices out of the ‘kosher’ or ‘pure’ species, that YHVH had ordered to bring in the Ark in seven samples. Only these species would be accepted late to offer in the Holy Temple.
He sacrificed animals rather than bringing fruits, because he identified with Abel, the victim of the first BLOODSHED. As we remember, YHVH had accepted Abel’s animal offering rather than Cain’s first fruits.
And he sacrificed he animals as burnt offering. Why not Gift Offering like Cain and Abel? Because the purpose of the offering was different. Cain and Abel wished to ‘purchase man with YHVH,” as their mother Eve had told them. Noah wished to UNLOAD HIS HEART.
Burnt Offering is done in silence. There is no confession, no vocal prayer, no petition offered. The owner of the offering just stands in silence, unloading his heart to YHVH’s ears. The Hebrew word for ‘burnt offering,’ Olah, means “whatever arises on the heart,” (Midrash.)
When the Holy Temple stood, people of all nations brought their Olah, burnt-offering to the G-d of Israel. They were not asked to confess, or to say a prayer or a text. They just watched their offering going up to Heavens on that holy place. In fact, they emulated Noah.
What did he ask, silently?
As we’ve’ said, Noah unloaded all his worries about starting civilization again.
He warried about the human heart, being so bloodthirsty.
And he asked the Heavenly Court to change its heart: to have more Mercy in it and less harsh Judgment.
If his worries are not answered, he would not agree to procreate.
As he unloaded his heart by the Altar, his family was watching intensely: Would he, a mere flesh and blood human, be able to change the heavenly Court’s heart? Would he change the human heart? Should they start procreating, or should they remained adamant NOT to start civilization again.
So much was at stake at that moment.
It is a mystery, why we do not pay enough attention to it.