Parashat Noach: Enter the Word

By Rabbi James Stone Goodman

You entered the Ark Noah (Genesis 7:1), that is teivah which is also the word for the basket into which Yocheved would place baby Moses for safekeeping (Exodus 2:3). Moses was saved by the teivah. Teivah also means word. You entered the teivah, Noah, you entered the ark, the saving basket, the Word (Gen. 6:18).

You did it, but you didn’t say anything. I am troubled by your silence after you entered the Word. Did you enter and keep it to yourself? You are referred to as whole-hearted (Gen. 6:9), tamim, in some translations perfect, the same adjective later applied to Abraham (Gen.17:1). What kind of whole-hearted or perfect is this compared to Abraham?


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Parashat Noach: Enter the Word

Rabbi James Stone Goodman serves Congregation Neve Shalom and is a member of the St. Louis Rabbinical Association.

Noah, you entered the Word, but you were also silent. Abraham argued on our behalf over the conundrum at Sodom (Gen.18:23 ff.).

Come into the teivah. We always arrive at the teivah – the Word – the journey is the story. Noah, were you hiding in the word?

Which word is it? How many words? How beautiful or how true were the words, how large enough the words you entered? How do you merit the word anyway? Why didn’t you give it back to us?

Puzzled somewhat I am by calling you tamim, what we called Abraham. Abraham fought for us, Noah – you are silent. What kind of tamim is that? Maybe tamim with – qualifications? What about the rest of us? Why didn’t you argue for us?

We go searching for clues to your silence. Make a window for the Ark, the word, a light you shall make to the Ark, the Ark with lower second and third levels you shall make it (Gen. 6:16). The words have a soul level, every word has a universe and a soul and a Godliness, this from Chassidus (Baal Shem Tov on the Torah, Noach 17). Words have levels and nuance and depth. We are all searching for the right words, the good words, the ones with depth. We live for them. Is that what you were doing – searching them out?

We are all interpreters of the word, as were you Noah, who discovered inside the teivah, the Ark – the word. Come into the Ark Noah, you were told, enter the Word, interpret the world. Is this your gift to the rest of us? Is this how you are tamim?

Noah, you became tamim in loshen. perfect in language – enter the word, you heard, save everyone.