Thursday, October 11, 2007

Noah: leadership like Moses

Parshat No'ah

In 8:8-9 it says he sent the dove from him... the dove found nowhere to set down and returned to the ark, and Noah sent forth his hand and took her and brought her back in...

Why was this dove so high maintenance? The raven was sent out and it came back in on its own when it could not find land. The dove later was sent out and came back on its own with an olive branch. This time the dove was sent out from him - meaning Noah sort of urged it out and helped it leave, and when it came back he had to retrieve it and assist its re-entry.

According to the Ohr Hachaim, the dove was very weary from its trip. It had not found land and had not set down even to rest for 7 days.So when the dove came back in, Noah knew it was very tired because it had not rested in 7 days and therefore helped it back in.The first time it was the raven which is a much stronger bird, so it did not need help (and possibly it did not travel far according to the midrash). The later time the dove had returned holding a branch meaning it had found a resting spot so it was not tired.

See Noah's sensitivity to his surroundings. He was aware the bird was tired. I have no idea how one can look at a bird and see that it is weary. I do not know what a tired bird looks like.

But Noah was sensitive to it. Sure, it was only a matter of another meter. How much help did Noah really offer it anyway? Could the bird not make it back the last meter or two (how far could Noah have reached anyway to grab it) that Noah needed to assist it? Sure the bird probably would have made it anyway.

But Noah was sensitive to his surroundings and knew that even if it is only a small bit, he could still relieve the bird, just a bit, of his weariness.

This is why Noah was great. While everyone else around him was stealing and seeped uin immorality, he was acutely aware of even the slightest discomfort another was experiencing and he figured out how to help relieve that discomfort.

I would like to add that this is similar to how Hashem chose Moshe to lead Israel out of Egypt and later how he chose David and other prophets. They were shepherds. Hashem saw the great level of sensitivity they had when relating to their sheep. When Hashem saw how Moshe helped his sheep eat, He chose Moshe because only someone that sensitive to the needs of others, even animals, can lead a people without his own selfish needs getting in the way.

Noah was the same. When everyone else was looking out for themselves, Noah was sensitive to others. That is why Hashem chose to save Noah and through him to rebuild the world.

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