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Lev Avos Blog

Exploring Tanach while reflecting on parenthood

Noah's Exit Strategy

Yechiel Shaffer

We are told off-the-bat that Noah is different than all the rest. He is a source of pleasantness for G-d at a time where spiritual connectivity is at an all-time low.

We are not told what Noah has done to achieve this status and the cynics among us would say that Noah didn't have to do very much because society was so corrupt - all he had to do was keep his head above the turbulent waters of debauchery and he was noticeable.

Rabbi Ya'akov Kaminetsky, in his extraordinary commentary to the Torah, Emes LeYaakov, draws our attention to an interesting detail of the Noah story. It took Noah 120 years to build his ark. In a passing comment, R' Ya'akov says that at the beginning of the flood Noah's oldest son was 100 years old. At this point we have to pause and reflect on a couple of interesting ideas:

1. Noah didn't have any children before he built the ark

2. Noah waited to start a family until he was 20 years into the building of the ark

3. Noah's children only knew a world that was condemned to be destroyed

These three thoughts offer some interesting opportunity to reflect.

Perhaps Noah doesn't start his family until he knows how his world will be repaired. In a world that is void of hope, it is near impossible to start a family. Once Noah is building the ark, it becomes the moment where it seems obvious to him to begin his family. He can have a family only when he has an exit strategy.

As Noah was keeping his head above water, his commitment to the future, having children in the face of destruction, perhaps is the most G-d like action. In the face of destruction, Noah creates life.