Editor’s Article Published In The Jewish Link Of New Jersey – For Your Benefit – A Story Of Reb Chaim Kanievsky Shlita And Rav Avrohom Genechovsky Zt”l

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Yacov Nordlicht – Noach – Take Shelter In The Teiva Of G-d

I remember once sitting at a seudas preidah for an old chavrusa of mine, and a Rebbe from his previous yeshiva said over a very inspirational and potent dvar Torah from this week’s parsha.  

In this week’s parsha, after the world had become corrupt with evil and immorality, HaShem decided to destroy the world and save the lone righteous individual, Noach, to build a new generation. When HaShem commanded Noach to build the Teiva, the Torah goes out of its way to relate the exact measurements. Seeing how the Torah could have just said that HaShem told Noach to build a Teiva, from the fact that the Torah gives the measurements at all carries an obvious implication of deeper meaning and importance. Some explain the measurements on a more practical level, that a boat with these dimensions could best withstand the storm to come. Others, however, see a deeper meaning behind the numbers. 

Chazal mention that if one would take the gematria of the sheim Havaya and the gematria of the sheim Adnus, and multiply each letter of the names by each other in succession, the gematria would equal the dimensions of the Teivah. For example, the first letter of the sheim Adnus is aleph, 1, which if multiplied by the first letter of the sheim Havaya, yud (10), would equal 10. This, added to the sum of the next two letters (the next two letters, daled (4) and hey (5) can be multiplied to equal 20) equals thirty which corresponds to the height of theTeivah. The next letters, nun (50), times vav (6) equals 300, the length of the Teiva, and finally, yud (10) times hey (5) equals 50, the width of the Teiva. 

We then are forced to ask: what’s the symbolism which is being related here and what lesson are we supposed to be taking out of this?

My chavrusa’s old Rebbe explained that whenever there’s a fierce storm raging outside, the place where the righteous take refuge is in the name of HaShem. Like a baby bird in danger, we huddle under the mother bird’s wings to shield us from harm. 

I spoke to a Rebbe of mine recently who explained that the reality is that many people aren’t able to sit and learn in yeshiva for the rest of their lives. Whether its because of parnassah or simply because after years they don’t have the same inspirational feeling from a gemara that they did originally, to sit and learn all day is for the select few. He told me that besides for the obvious and unbelievable schar that a person gets for learning Torah, the toil in Torah is supposed to change the essence of the individual. It’s supposed to yield the type of person who always surrounds himself with HaShem’s Shechina. It’s supposed to bring about one who always knows where to take refuge. Yet the true test is always yet to come.The true test comes when that person has to leave yeshiva and return to a place where things aren’t so simple, where he would be tempted to question all of which he holds dear. If he was successful in yeshiva, then even when he come to a place of a storm, he knows where to find his shelter. 

The first time the Torah says the word “Eicha” is in last week’s parsha when HaShem “searches” for Adam after he had eaten form the eitz hada’as. The translation there means “Where are you?” Now surely HaShem knew where Adam was. Rather He was asking a deeper question. Why didn’t you turn to Me when confronted with an issue? Where did you go? Where did you place yourself? This is the fundamental question of Tisha B’av. When we sit and recite Eicha, our reflection should be “Where am I? What route have I chosen?”

Hardships cause us to reflect on life. When we’re confronted with an issue, which Teivah do we take shelter in? Are we the ones where HaShem will continue to ask “Where are you”? Are we the ones looking for other things to satisfy and alleviate our fears? Or do we turn to the One Being that has always been there for us, watching over us. Will we continue to be lost, or will we finally seek shelter in the teivah of HaShem?