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Parshat Noach: The Eternal Message of the Tzohar

By: Mrs. Dara Knapel

I heard an interesting idea from a colleague. The Torah tells us that Hashem gave the blueprints of the building of the Tevah to Noach. As part of the design Noach was supposed to put in a Tzohar into the Tevah. The purpose of this Tzohar was to give light to the Tevah and there are two interpretations as to what it was. One interpretation says it was a special gemstone given to Noach by Hashem that would provide light within the Tevah, the other interpretation explains that the Tzohar was a window so that light would come in. I always thought that the window opinion was the simplest until my colleague asked how was their light through the window? – for 40 days and nights there was nothing but rain, storms – it was a time of neither day or night. How could a window give light or at least sufficient light in the Tevah during this time period?

If this is true why would Hashem want a window in the Tevah – what was its purpose if not for light? My colleague explained that the window made Noach look outside the Tevah – look outside of his safe environment and see the world around him. It was to teach Noach that as opposed to the world that existed before where each person only cared about themselves – to the point that they would steal from each other with impunity – the new world needs to be focused not only on the self but also on the other.

Often when one is living in a time of danger and they find themselves in a safe place their only concern is for themselves. But the Jewish people have always been one which is connected across continents and oceans. In our current time of anxiety and stress we not only think of our own safety but we continue to pray for all members of the Jewish people. I heard a beautiful but sad story today about one of the terror victims from Tuesday. It took a while to publicize his name because they were trying to find his next of kin. They soon realized that he had no family. A notice went out for people to attend his funeral so a Jew who died "Al Kiddush Hashem" should have a proper, well attended funeral. Thousands of people came. "Me Keamcha Yisrael" Who is like your nation Israel?

The message of the the Tzohar reminds us that we must always be looking outside ourselves and seeing the world around us – how can we help others, how can we reach out to those in need, what can we do to make the world a better place. May Hashem see our care and concern for our brethren and grant us true Shalom.