Noach – The Joke Is On Them

Did you ever wonder how Noach fit all the animals into the ark he built? The Torah says the dimensions of the ark were “300 amah in length, 50 amah in width, and 30 amah in height” (Breishis 6:15). According to the biggest estimate, the Chazon Ish says an amah is 22.7 inches. That means the ark was L 567.5 ft. (189.7 yd.) x W 94.6 ft. (31.5 yd.) x H 56.75 ft.  (which would equal 18.9 ft. per level, over 3 levels). In a nutshell, the ark was smaller in length than two football fields, and  a giraffe could barely fit inside, as they are 16- to 20-ft. tall.
The Rabbeinu Bachye was bothered by this issue:  “Hashem commanded [Noach] to make [an ark] with these exact measurements and for the many kinds of species of animals needed to be brought onto [the ark] which included kosher and non-kosher domesticated animals and birds, as well as big and small wild animals, two of each animal (seven of each kosher animal), and there were humongous wild animals like the elephant and oryx! According to the laws of nature even 50 arks of the same measurement would be too small to include every type of animal! Rather it must have been a great miracle without a doubt to fit a lot in such a small amount of area!”

However the Rabbeinu Bachye is not finished: “And perhaps it is appropriate to ask here that since this matter was a miracle why did [Noach] have to build an ark with this exact material and measurements with three floors? Hashem could have saved them without an ark. They could have walked on water or flown through the air because Hashem can do anything and nothing could stop Him!” (Parenthetically we do see such a precedent, many generations later, when Hashem sent the plagues on Egypt; for example, a Jew could be drinking water out of a cup and an Egyptian drinking out of the same cup of water would swallow blood. Or during the plague of darkness a Jew could be walking in light, while the same location was in darkness for an Egyptian.)

The Rabbeinu Bachye has two answers to this question. The first answer is: “the way of the Torah is to command man to do all he can possibly do within natural means and whatever is missing, Hashem will miraculously fill in the gaps.”

The second answer, which calls for more scrutiny,  is: “Our Rabbis of blessed memory have taught us that through the making of the ark, which [Noach] was consistently working on day in and day out with its length and breadth people will see what he is doing and talk about it over and over again and it will arouse them to repent from there evil ways. If they don’t repent then they are definitely wicked and of little faith deserving of Hashem’s exact strict judgement upon them.” (Click here for Hebrew text.)

 At first glance, any member of society at that time, which was so engrossed in their own desires, stealing, murdering, and engaging in incest and idolatry, would think that Noach was a madman., While simultaneously proclaiming an apocalypse and stating that the only way the species will survive is if at least two of every single animal is brought onto an ark – an ark which can’t even fit all of them! What lunacy! What a joke! The guy must be out of his mind, spending over a hundred years wasting his time building such a thing! Who would ever listen to him and his prophecies of doom!?

However, we see from here a very important lesson in communication, and a very ingenious psychological tactic, which is that when people start talking to each other, different perspectives and outlooks start to pop up. It makes no difference if they begin making fun of the situation; as long as they continue talking about it, they will start questioning in their mind whether their preconceive notions are really true and whether they might possibly come to a different conclusion. Of course, everyone has free choice and could choose to ignore the truth. However the potential is there to now arrive at the truth, since due to the fact that everyone is talking about the subject at hand, new ideas are able to be thought of and presented, and, slowly but surely, the truth has the ability come out.

That is why it was worth it to spend all that time and energy building an ark, and why the generation of Noach was held accountable for being of such little faith. They had the potential to arrive at the truth but they chose instead to remain steadfast in their ways and to ignore all the warning signals buzzing in their ears and in front of their faces.

Taking advice from others, bouncing an idea off someone else, or just talking things out can make a great amount of  difference in one’s perspective, ultimately impacting the whole entire world.

Leave a Reply