Emerging from the ark, Noah and all living beings are granted divine permission to repopulate the Earth. * On the fourth reading of Parshas Noach.
"Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons, and your sons' wives with you." This line intrigues us, sparking questions about what it means for humanity and all of creation at this pivotal moment. The verse is from Bereshit (Genesis) Chapter 8, Verse 16, where God instructs Noah, his family, and the animals to exit the ark after the Flood has receded.
The core message here revolves around the notion of new beginnings—both physical and ethical. This is a moment that permits the resumption of life, but it’s also a profound lesson in responsibility and adherence to divine instruction.
Rashi, the medieval Jewish commentator, points out: "Here He permitted them to engage in marital relations...if they do not wish to come out, you take them out." The animals also "accepted upon themselves the condition that they cleave to their own species." In layman's terms, Rashi is saying that God now allows procreation to take place after prohibiting it during the Flood. Further, Noah has the duty to bring out the animals if they are unwilling. The animals, too, have a responsibility to stick to their own kind.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe suggests that the Flood itself was a form of divine purification, a resetting of the world. Exiting the ark, then, is not just a physical act but a spiritual elevation, an entrance into a world that has been spiritually cleansed.
The transformative understanding we gain is twofold. First, that responsibilities and freedoms are two sides of the same coin. Freedom to procreate and populate the Earth comes with the responsibility to do it in a way that aligns with divine will. Second, that each creature, human or animal, has a role to play in maintaining the divine order.
In today’s world, Jewish communities across the globe face both overt and subtle forms of terror. This text urges us to remember that even in the bleakest moments, we can find guidance in the Torah. It reassures us that after every 'Flood,' there comes a time of renewal, of divine permission to restart and repopulate—not just physically but spiritually.
Looking ahead, we can see the nearing dawn of Moshiach, the Jewish messiah. Just as Noah and his family experienced redemption and renewal after the Flood, so too will the Jewish people experience an ultimate redemption. This should give us pause and hope, urging us to prepare ourselves and the world for that imminent day of renewal and everlasting peace.