The Door in the Ark

The LORD gave Noah instructions for building the ark: “Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall cover it inside and out with pitch” (Genesis 6:14). The word “ark” translates the Hebrew word “tevah (תבה).” The Torah uses the same word for the basket in the story about baby Moses: “When she could no longer hide him, she got him a wicker tevah and covered it over with tar and pitch. Then she put the child into it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile” (Exodus 2:3). Both arks, coated with tar and pitch, float on the waters and preserve the lives of their passengers.

Chasidic teachings note that, in Rabbinic Hebrew, tevah also means “word.” Based on this equation, Noah’s ark might symbolize a person’s prayers which he offers with words:

In the face of the flood of concerns over one’s livelihood, one should get into one’s tevah, the words of prayer, which have the ability to keep one afloat, and even more—to raise one up above the waters. (Torah Or, Noach)

God commanded Noah to place a door on the side of the ark. In Chasidic teaching, the door in the ark symbolizes repentance. Along the same lines, our Master compared repentance to a door. He taught His disciples to escape the coming judgment by repenting and passing through the narrow door to enter God’s salvation.

During the decades that Noah built the ark and preached repentance, anyone could have entered the ark. Even after the rains first began to fall, the people still had time to enter through the door and find salvation in the ark. They did not heed Noah’s warnings. They did not seek first to enter the ark because they were busy with the concerns of life, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear for clothing?” (Matthew 6:31). They were busy “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark” (Matthew 24:38-39).

God closed the door of the ark behind Noah and his family. This teaches that God appoints a deadline for repentance. He does not leave the door of repentance open indefinitely. A day comes when the time for repentance expires and it will no longer be possible to find entrance into the kingdom. Then the judgment begins.

Our Master also warned us that the door of repentance will close:

Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, “Lord, open up to us!” then He will answer and say to you, “I do not know where you are from.” (Luke 13:24-25)

Noach נח : “Noah”
Torah : Genesis 6:9-11:32
Haftarah : Isaiah 54:1-55:5
Gospel : Luke 1:5-80

Source: Torah Portion