Sunday, October 14, 2012


An Open Window (6:16)

Noach was not a carpenter or an engineer, but he was given one directive. Make a window. Why?


An Open Window (6:16)

Never before had one man undertaken such a task. It seemed impossible to ask of one man that he take upon his shoulders the weight of the entire world. Yet that is precisely what G-d had commanded of Noach. This lone man, already well advanced in age, was not even allowed to share the burden of building the ark. All by himself, for what must have seemed like endless years, he labored on this monumental assignment.

The job might have been easier had Noach been a carpenter or an engineer. But Noach was none of these. And so the elderly scholar was given specific instructions on how to build the floating menagerie that would save the world. “Three hundred were to be its length, fifty cubits its width, and thirty cubits its height,” G-d commanded. So that the rain would slide off the ship, G-d even taught Noach concerning the design of the roof. “Make it slanted,” He ordered. “In addition, place the door on the side, and allow for three floors.” All of the above seems understandable. The only detail slightly incomprehensible was the directive to make a window for the Ark. What great sights did G-d wish Noach to see that would necessitate incorporating a skylight into the Ark’s structure? Was Noach really meant to sit, calm and tranquil, only to see the rest of the world being destroyed before his eyes?

The Ateres Mordechai poignantly explains the purpose of this window. The portal was to serve as a symbol of man’s moral obligation to others. Noach was not allowed to feel secure in his being spared from the terrible fate meted out to the rest of humanity. Noach was enjoined to look outside to reflect and acknowledge G-d’s kindness to himself and his family. At the same time he was not to feel relieved at his own rescue and ignore the sorrow of others.

There is a beautiful story of a man who, although not having great wealth himself was always willing to share with others. Years passed and he was blessed with great prosperity. Strangely enough, his success did not make him more charitable. Instead he became insensitive to the needs of others.

Realizing what had happened; the man’s Rebbe and spiritual mentor came to visit his disciple in his mansion. Taking the man over to the window that looked out to the street that ran past the home, the Rebbe asked what the other saw. “Chaim the water carrier, Sarah the cleaning lady, and Berel the peddler,” came the reply. Leading him by the hand the Rebbe took him to the mirror on the other side of the room and once again asked him what he saw. This time the man replied, “Why, myself.”

The Chassidic mentor then inquired, if both the window and the mirror were made of glass, why did they function so differently. After thinking it over for a moment the host answered, “Because the mirror is covered with silver in the back.” The Rebbe then concluded with these instructive words, “When one is wrapped up in his own self-worth and importance, it is difficult to see others. We must never shut our eyes.”

No comments:

Post a Comment