Noach – english



At the end of forty days of rain Noah sent a raven and afterward a dove to verify whether the floodwater had subsided. The dove returned to Noah with an olive tree branch in its beak. The Talmud (Eiruvin 18b) explains that the dove here relayed to Noach the following message. “I would prefer my food and sustenance bitter as an olive from the hands of G-d, than food as sweet as honey from the hands of a human being.” The dove’s words were powerful, maybe even slighting to Noach who restlessly toiled for forty days to sustain this dove amongst all the animals of the world. The following concept may clarify this.

The symbolic “dove with a twig in its beak” became an international representation of peace. R’ S. R. Hirsh claims however that the dove does not represent peace as much as it represents independence. The dove conveyed to Noah that independence offers greater pleasure than comfort. Although the dove received first class service this did not paramount the pleasure of freedom and dealing with the world as is, without assistance. We may not be cognizant of it but G-d implemented in all creatures an innate pleasure in life to survive on their own without human intervention for support. This pleasure is linked to the world’s greatest pleasure, recognition of G-d and appreciation to Him for success. This pleasure is greater and deeper than being supported comfortably. Being supported can easily confuse one into believing that the means of support are the source and not mere mediums.

Hence, the dove told Noah the following. I have enjoyed all that you have done for me and I am grateful. Despite this, I would like to move on and have a direct relationship with my Creator. This reminds us of the prayer we make in Birkat Hamazon, the grace after meals. And please, Almighty, do not make us dependent upon the hands of humans for sustenance… rather dependent on Your hand, which is so wide, open, full and rich…

Whether we are supported by others or on our own we must remember not to lose focus of who ultimately supports us. Displaying appreciation to G-d and strengthen our relationship with Him can bring about the ultimate inner satisfaction. All this can be handicapped by a false perspective that a parent, guardian, school administration, boss etc. are the root sources from whom we receive. The dove conveyed to us a message that it is easy to be confused about this. Although these kind forces of support toil endlessly to benefit their recipients, we must keep in mind that the real source of sustenance is from Above. This concept can aid those who are bitter about how much and as to how they are supported. A sincere Birkat Hamazon and a change of perspective may convert such a bitterness into something as sweet as honey.




I have always found international couples interesting. Both my parents and myself are international marriages as well. The international couples that are most amusing to me are those in which the two did not share a common language at the outset. In some way they felt that they were “meant to be”. More often than not they live happily ever after. Unfortunately, many times this lasts until they figure out a common language. Somehow this complicates the tranquility in their relationship. Both begin to doubt if they were really “meant to be”. I wondered at this phenomenon for more than a while. Somehow, I stumbled on the following idea which is highly related to these marriage types in particular and to all marriages as well.

At the conclusion of our parasha the people of the world unified for the purpose of creating the Tower of Babylon. The mass of builders shared the same goal with three different plans.(Sanhedrin 109a) One group intended to climb to the sky in order to live amongst the angels. The second group desired to climb to the sky in order to serve foreign gods. The third wanted to reach the sky with the intent to fight G-d and prevent Him from bringing another flood. And G-d punished them in three different ways. The first group were scattered by G-d. The second group became monkeys, ghosts, and demons. As for  the third group, G-d sent down angels to mix up their languages. Although there were different groups and each deserved his own punishment, they all shared the common goal of erecting this sort of skyscraper.

On the verse that mentions the confusion of languages for group three  Rashi comments that G-d did not merely make a barrier of total non comprehension. Rather G-d confused the mass in such a way that this one asked for a brick and instead his worker brought cement. Frustrated over the mistake of his counterpart the first one takes a spike and crushes his friend’s skull. When one asked for X in one language this meant Z in the language of his acquaintance. Why did G-d not suffice to disperse the masses with a confusion where there would exist a complete non-comprehension?

The Brisker Rav answers with the following life principle. When two people share a common goal in anything in life the chances they will succeed are not just 1 x 2 rather it is in an entirely different league. And the more people that share a common goal they minimize the likelihood of failure to being almost unrealistic. There was great unity between the builders as they shared the goal of erecting such a tower which gave the construction project tremendous power. This unified project was to overcome all obstacles including not understanding each other’s tongue. The only way G-d felt suitable to disperse them was a change of tongue which resulted in one takes a spike and crushes his friends skull. If there would have been total miscomprehension they would be on the same page with a sense of unity of common goals and then nothing will disperse them despite them not being able to communicate. G-d first felt it necessary to specifically bring miscommunication that resulted in frustration disqualifying all powers that unity can generate and making it  impossible to work as a team.

We may be able to apply this to marriage as well. Once there is miscommunication where one thinks they understood the other and frustrates his/her spouse by behaving in a different manner this can be even worse than not understanding the language to begin with. When these mistakes happen  it may be a good idea to discuss and focus on the original goal with which they started their relationship. This may help with dealing with frustrations of miscommunication.


Yosef Farhi




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