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Parshat Noach

By: Hannah Restle

A story is told about a poor water carrier who supplied water to multiple families in his village. Every morning he would attach two empty barrels to either end of a stick, carefully place this simple contraption on his weathered shoulders, and embark on the dirt path that led to the communal well. When he reached the well he would draw the water, fill both barrels and begin to haul his heavy load to his first clients house. When the water carrier left the well, both barrels were full, but as he continued on his way water leaked out of a small unapparent crack on the bottom of the barrel. By the time he reached the first family the defective bucket had lost three quarters of its initial fill of water and the water carrier was forced to return to the well for a second trip to compensate for the wasted water. The water carrier was frustrated by the wasted water and attempted to fix the damaged barrel, but his attempts were futile, and the useless barrel continued to drip at a steady rate. Day after day the poor water carrier wondered why G-d would allow such a subpar object to exist in his world.

In this weeks' parsha of Noah, we read about the Raven who, like the barrel, fails to fulfill its function. The translation of the Parsha recounts that Noah sends out the Raven, and the Raven circles the Ark until the waters dry from the earth. Then Noah sends out the dove to see if the water has receded from the earth. The question arises, what is the purpose of the Raven since the dove's reports would have been sufficient on their own? According to Rashi, however, there is slightly more depth to the Raven's story. Initially Noah chooses the Raven as the bird to search for dry land but it refuses to perform the task accusing Noah of discriminating against unclean species, like itself. According to a Midrash, Noah is angered by the Ravens remarks and comments that it has no purpose and refuses to let the Raven return to the ark. Hashem immediately admonishes Noah saying that the Raven, in fact, has an important purpose. Looking in the book of the prophets, the purpose of the raven becomes apparent; when Elijah decrees a drought upon the land Hashem sends the ravens to bring nourishment to him in the desert. Although at first glance, even to the righteous Noah, the Raven appeared to be a useless creature, Hashem granted it a specific and significant purpose in the world.

Returning to the water-carrier story, the poor frustrated man carried water all throughout the cold winter and into the spring until one day as he gazed somberly downwards at the cracked barrel he noticed a row of beautiful flowers lining the right side of the path. All along, the broken barrel had been performing the secret task of watering the seeds on the path, and only after months of chagrin was Hashem's ultimate will finally apparent. Hashem's divine plan is exactly that: a heavenly and infinitely complex balance of events that is inconceivable for our human minds. It is our job as Jews when unfortunate events occur to humbly realize that Hashem has an ultimate plan. More importantly, though, we must always search for those elements of divinity, that row of flowers, to keep us fulfilling our purpose and rejoicing in Hashem's greatness.

Hannah Restle comes to AMIT from Katonah, NY and plans on attend Macgill University in the fall. What she enjoys most at Midreshet AMIT is "the amazing environment which is made up of welcoming people and the engaging classes."