My thoughts, with knowledge borrowed from G_d and many other places!
This week’s torah portion is Parshat Noach. This is the story of Noach, the flood and the Ark. But at the deepest levels, the story is also more importantly about giving and receiving – two of the greatest qualities a person can have in life, I believe. The parshat is also interesting for the detail it recounts about the event. Like, do you know where the measurements for the size and building of the ark came from? Yes G_d, but why and how? Answer is forth coming. Now back to this Noach, the flood and the ark.
Noach needed the Ark to give life to future generations. In terms of the Kaballah and the Zohar, Noach is the attribute of Yessode and the ark is Malchut. Yessode is an attribute representing focus or focused energy. And the ark, Taeva, a vessel, is representative of Malchut a receiving energy. This creates a unity, Yichud, that is a blend of Yessode and Malchut.
We all have two qualities, maybe one dominates, but two. One is giving and one is receiving. Giving represents a male quality and receiving is a female quality. The quality of giving is the attribute of Yessode and the quality of receiving is Malchute. Both are seen as positive attributes. Noach, a righteous man or tzadik, for his time, represents unity, the flow between giving and receiving.
The people in Noach’s time were receivers and all they wanted to do is receive. What can I get, I want more, I’m not satisfied, I want more. Because there was no giving or sharing, there was an eventual meltdown or slow destruction of the receiving qualities, Malchute, in human nature.
So the Torah and Kabbalah describes the people as Mala-chamas and the Zohar interprets this as a separation between the higher and lower waters. Higher waters representing the giving and lower waters the receiving. The slow destruction of the vessel or life structure, Malchute, caused the flood.
The Torah and kaballah both talk about waters flows in conjunction with the flood. And waters rising up being receiving, because they were receiving powerful rains from above. And because there should always be harmony and unity you need an opposite force. The upper waters, the giving, came down to generate some semblance of unity. And finally, Noach and his entering into the ark, or vessel, can be seen as a balance, or the balance between giving and receiving as he was both a giver and a receiver and had to be so within the framework of the ark and the flood. I will explain how a bit later.
As humans and a community we can receive and we can give in life. Everything in life is a relationship balance. As with almost everything in Judaism, there is a cycle. We must complete each cycle to create harmony. Here we must create a cycle of giving and receiving. We can’t have one dominate another. We must create a balance between the two to be able to partake fully in the cycle and ultimately complete the cycle, or at least balance out the cycle. And the completing of the cycle or balancing is when we are sharing as a society, both receiving, and then sharing what we receive with giving what we receive ensuring we always have enough to share. Noach as we can now see is the balance between the two. This is one reason why he is considered a tzadik. He has a balance between giving and receiving. When he went into the ark he not only had to provide for his family, but he had to share with the animals. Partly as a punishment for living in a society that had the dominant quality of Malchut, and not a balance between Malchut and Yessode.
To take this theme, or idea, a bit further, in kabbalistic terms, let’s explore the name of Hashem. Hashem is spelled Yud, Hay, Vuv, Hay. The Yud, the first letter is the seed and has the male quality of giving and the hay has female quality of receiving. This is a unity, a unity between the giving and the receiving. So you can see why the theme of giving and receiving is so important in human nature as we all should aspire to be godlike in our endeavours, and in striving to make the non-G_dly, G_dly.
Something else fascinating about this portion, while we are on the subject of Hashem is the dimensions of the ark is that it was 300 in length, 50 at its width and 30 at its height. 300 X 50 X 30.
Hashem, Yud, Hay, Vuv, Hay, the yud is represented by the number 10 and the hay is 5 and as I said earlier the Yud, Hay, Vuv, Hay is representing unity and unity in giving and receiving. If we multiply Yud and Hay and get 5 X 10 which equals 50, the width of the vessel or ark. The vuv is represented by the number 6. Hay is now 50, so 6 X 50 equals 300 which is the length. And finally we have the final hey which is back to 5 and now we multiply hey and vuv or 5 x 6 and we get 30 the height of the ship. Amazing, if I must say so. We can now wee that the qualities of Hashem, giving and receiving are now in the ark, the actual structure or measurements of the ark. We can again see how important these two qualities are, and the importance that G_d places on them. The ark also represents the structure of our lives which can in some ways be measure by how much we give and receive, or the unity between Malchut and Yessode. As the ark ultimately survived the flood because of its structure, we too can help ourselves and the world, or mankind, survive through our structure and unity of giving and receiving. This is what the portion represents. While on the surface, on the waves, it represents a nice little story about a man, a people and a flood. The depths and wisdom or on the deepest floors of the ocean we can see that a whole new set of themes arises. Just as the tides of the oceans shift, so must our knowledge, wisdom and conciseness shift. Shift from a mentality of receiving to a cycle of giving, receiving and ultimately a state of pure sharing.
Finally, the Zohar says that these are not separate action. We do not work to receive and then at a later date give of our wealth, time, etc.. This is unfortunately most people’s mentality.
We must change our thinking and approaches to giving and receiving in life. Giving and receiving is the same process. One cannot give if one only receives, and one cannot receive if only gives. In order to embody G_d in our life, Yud, Hey, Vuv, Hey, we must think of giving and receiving as one and the same. You should not look at what you have received and then give. One must just share, meaning the more we not give, but share, the more we receive and the more we receive the more must share. That being not only money and materials, but time, energy, and compassion. And this cannot happen in a vacuum. Don’t get comfortable with the giving and receiving you already do. You must leave your own personal ark, or boundaries you have placed around your giving and receiving, and start to engage in giving and receiving that might be uncomfortable or unfamiliar to you. This is how we start to share and repair the world, Tikkun Olam.
L’chaim and Todah Rabbah.