BLOODSHED-10/The Drama at the Ark’s Exit
© 2021 by Rabbi Dr. Zvi Aviner
”Noah, get out! You and your wife,
and your sons and their wives!”
We started our journey with the notion that Noah’s THIRD Commandment, BLOODSHED, was given to Adam in Eden, as a part of Adam’s Six Commandments. However, since no one could kill in Eden, where life was protected by the Tree of Life, the Commandment of BLOODSHED had no meaning lest Adam and Eve would be driven out to live on Earth.
On Earth, soon as they were exposed to the Angel of Death, BLOODSHED became an option. No wonder that the first story on Earth describes the murder of Abel by his brother Cain.
From this first murder, BLOODSHED became rampant on Earth. Humanity split to two rival camps, each following its own ideology.
Cain’s Children, the Children of ELHM, worshiped only ELoKiM and overlooked YHVH.
Enosh’s Disciples worshiped YHVH, and overlooked ELKM.
Both camps corrupt into and heinous crimes, terrible BLOODSHED,
while fighting each other to the death.
The result was the Great Flood brought on Mankind by the Heavenly Court of YHVH and ELHM, sitting in session as described by the text.
During the Flood, Noah pondered about the past, and worried about the future.
Would he start civilization again, only to face another Flood?
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, but Noah and his family remained in the Ark. Why? A famous rabbi wondered, “were I Noah, wouldn’t I exited the Ark immediately?” (Midrash)
Typically for Noah, he does not speak out his heart. In fact, he never speaks. He is not a great orator, as Enosh his mentor was. Even when G-d talks to him, he does not speak to G-d, nor does Yet, let’s not make a mistake here. By his silence, he delivers one of the greatest message in the Bible.
Now we see him standing by the window of his Ark, looking out at the blooming trees, yet he would GO OUT!
1: He waited for an explicit order to exit
Some say that he was too pious. He and his family had entered the Ark by ELoKiM’s Command, and they would go out only after hearing an exit Command. After all, had he not been described by the text as a “righteous man who walked with ELKM? ELoKiM (Genesis 8: 9.)
Indeed, ELoKiM read his mind and told him explicitly:
“And ELoKiM told Noah saying, Noah, Go out!” (Genesis 8: 15)
The Hebrew word selected here for “He told,” dee-ber, hints for a harsh tone, a strong command (Rashi.)
Yet Noah did not comply! And that was a change in Noah. The Flood had changed him from a docile listener, to someone who dares to resist! Never before he had dared to disobey ELKM’s command. Now after the Flood he stood firm, the first time ever, insisting that he would not comply- unless his demand from ELHM is answered!
In other words, he was adamant that he would not exit the Ark to live again under the harsh Attribute of JUSTICE, ELKM!
More specifically – he and his family would not exit , unless ELKM would promise him to be less judgmental, and more patient! Or better: unless ELHM promise him that the next Flood, would NOT come so quick, even though humanity might deserve it!
2: He wouldn’t leave YHVH’s protection
And another point for his refusal to exit. Why should he leave the Ark, where they had been protected by YHVH, 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 such a wonderful Kingdom of MERCY to live again under the presence of the Angel of Death?
3: He did not want to leave the holiness of the Ark
And why should he leave the Ark where YHVH’s holiness was felt in the open, where the Sabbath reigned, to live again in the mundane world of ELKM?
We feel similar sense of ‘emptiness’ when we pass from our holy Sabbath to our mundane week.
4: He feared the return of the Flood
So why indeed should he exit the Ark, to live again fearing the return of the he Flood?
For he had good reasons to suspect that indeed the Flood would return.
He feared, that his descendants would split again into the same two camps, one worshipping ELKM, the other worshipping YHVH.
He knew that Man was born under YHVH ELKM in Oneness. At the same time, Man was born to face the IDOLATRY trial, as it says “Let Us Make Adam in our Form and Our Image.” Mankind, he knew, would always tend to split themselves along the Attributes, favoring one over the other. This had happened in his generation, causing so much BLOODSHED, and this would certainly happen again, sooner or later. And when this split of Mankind happens, the two camps would be at each other throat, with enormous committing BLOODSHED.
Theology, he suspected, was only a shell. Underneath it lies our animalistic instinct that calls for BLOODSHED, our BLOOD THIRSTY HEART.
So why indeed should he exit the Ark and start civilization again, only to see again the return of the Flood?
- 5. He would not exit unless he sees a change in the human heart, and a change in the Heavenly Court’s heart!
Noah would not exit, unless he is promised by the Heavenly Court to show less JUDGMENT and more MERCY to the world, and unless he is promised that the human’s heart is to change, and be less bloodthirsty.
2: Noah! Go out! Procreate!
ELoKiM , however, did not budge. Using a harsh tone (Midrash) He ordered Noah:
“Go out, you and your wife, your sons and the wives of your sons…” (Genesis 8: 15)
ELKM had read well Noah’s heart. He ordered him “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 Arkh
Noah would have complied, Had it been before the Flood. But this was another Noah standing before ELHM. He would exit, but not the way ELHM had told him. Instead, as the verse says
“And Noah came out with his sons
and ‘his wife’ and the ‘wives of his sons’ with him…” (Genesis 8: 18)
He and hi sons came out by themselves, and Noah’s wife Naama with their daughters in law by themselves, inferring: NO PROCREATION!
Gone was the righteous Noah who “walked with ELKM.” 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?
1 He went to Mt. Moriah
“And Noah built an Altar to YHVH.”
Tradition says he built the altar on Mt. Moriah. Why Moriah?
1: Because Mt. Moriah is where Adam and Eve were born. Noah and Naama must have felt they were new ‘Adam and Eve.’ Indeed, Noah was born naturally circumcised, as Adam.
2: Because Mt. Moriah is where Cain had killed Abel; and nothing worried Noah more than the return of BLOODSHED and subsequently the Flood. He took his sons to Mt Moriah to show them that “Here BLOODSHED began, and here it will end!”
3: Because at Mt. Moriah, the Eastern Gate of Eden opens up. If the MERCIFUL YHVH would enter our world more than before, as he hoped, She would enter here!
4: From Mt. Ararat to Mt. Moria
For three weeks, tradition says, Noah and his nascent family traveled silently by foot from Mt. Ararat (Asia Minor) to Mt. Moriah (at Jerusalem.) Sadly, hey traveled through empty villages and towns, bereft of any life. Sadly, they watched many houses so intact, as if their owners would return soon from their fields. When they arrived at Mt. Moriah, they found it dry as if the Flood had never touched it (Midrash.) Hence the notion that The Mount of YHVH is higher than any other mountain in the world.”
5. He showed them the site of the first murder
Standing on the Mountain, Noah identified to his sons the remnants of Cain and Abel’s stone altars. He showed them the crack in the rocky ground, where Abel’s blood had seeped into the abyss underneath the Mountain. From that abyss, Noah explained, Abel’s blood resurfaced on the ground through a the small Shiloach water spring, 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, “And here is the site in the ground which had opened its mouth to absorb Abele’s blood! It should never be cultivated or built!”
6 He pledged to end BLOODSHED
Pointing at the very site of the first murder, Noah told his three sons:
“Here is where BLOODSHED started,
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.
How paradoxical! How much blood has been shed for the control of the City of Peace?
7. : Noah’s Altar
“And Noah built an Altar to YHVH…” (Genesis 8: 20)
The verse does not specify it, but tradition says that Noah built his Altar to YHVH on Mt. Moriah, on the very site of the first murder. 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.
8. A prototype
So important was Noah’s prayer on his first altar, that the shape of his altar would become prototype for all ‘kosher’ altars after him.
Abraham, King Solomon, and Ezra the Scribe built their Altar on Mt. Moriah, using the same design of Noah’s altar: a square of stones filled by dirt. Since his altar had a ramp on its southern side, so would Israel’s altar have a ramp on the southern side.
Moreover, his silent prayer would become the prototype for all silent prayers after him.
And his burnt offering, would become the prototypes of all burnt offerings forever.
Standing by his altar he told his sons
“Out of this dirt Adam was made
By these ashes Adam’s sins will be atoned.”
Those very words would be said by Israel’s priests as they offered burnt offering on their altar built on that very site.
9: Noah’s silent burnt-offering
“And Noah took from all the pure cattle and form the pure birds
And he offered burnt offering on the Altar” (Genesis 8: 20)
Unlike Cain and Abel, who had offered “gift offerings” on that site. Noah elected to offer “burnt offering” by which he expressed silently his tribulations. There was no sin to confess, and no prayer to utter verbally. All he wished was to UNLOAD HIS HEART.
So without being ordered to do so, Noah selected the animals for sacrifices out of the ‘kosher’ or ‘pure’ species, that YHVH had ordered him to bring along with him into the Ark in seven samples. Only these species would be qualified by Israel to be consumed as kosher food.
Why animals rather than fruits? Because he identified with the victim of BLOODSHHED, Abel.. In fact, YHVH had preferred Abel’s animals rather than Cain’s fruits, for YHVGH looks at the human’s heart
Noah’s offering would become the prototype of all Gentiles coming to Jerusalem to offer their prayer. Like Noah, they did not have to confess verbally, nor did they have to offer any verbal prayer. They came to simply unload their hearts.
10: What did Noah ask, so silently?
Noah unloaded all his hesitation to start civilization again.
He warried about the nature human heart, being so bloodthirsty.
He asked Heavens to change the human heart
And he also asked the Heavenly Court to change its heart – to have in it more Mercy and less harsh Judgment.
But he was adamant – if his request is not met, he and his sons would not procreate!
We can imagine the scene. As he tied up his offerings on the altar, his family watched him from the side, quite alarmed. What was he doing? Why sacrifice the very kids they had taken care so much in the ark? Would he change the Heavenly Court heart by this bloody offering? And if he wished the human heart to be less bloodthirsty, why killing innocent animals? All that did not make any sense in their minds.
END OF BLOODSHED CLASS10