The primary purpose of marriage is to assure the continuity of the human species. This is achieved through the married couple’s embarking on building a home. Thus, it is customary to wish them that it be a binyan adei ad — an everlasting one.

The concept of building and construction is really what the parshah of this week, Noach, is all about. The parshah discusses not just one construction but actually two. The first was for Noach and his family. They needed refuge from the imminent deluge G‑d was bringing upon the entire world. This home became popularly known as tevet Noach” — “Noach’s ark.”

Three hundred forty years after the flood another major construction commenced. This time many of the families of the world were concentrated in present day Iraq (Babylon). Seeking power and self-aggrandizement they decided to build a tower ascending to Heaven and from it wage a war against G‑d. It became popularly known as the Tower of Babel, and the constructors were known as the Generation of Dispersion due to their later being dispersed over the whole world.

Unlike Noach’s successful construction which preserved the world and mankind, this one ended up a colossal failure.

Why did Noach succeed while the tower builders failed?

In brief, Noach built with Hashem’s instruction and for the sake of Hashem. The people of Shinar (Babylon) built a tower on their own initiative and without Hashem’s instruction. In fact, it was built against Hashem’s will. Of Noach’s construction of the ark, the Torah attests that “Noach did according to everything Hashem commanded him; so he did” (6:22). He meticulously followed all the details of the Divinely-prepared architectural plan.

Of the people of Shinar, the Torah says “And it came to pass benas’am mikedem — in their migrating from the east” (11:2). The Midrash (Rabbah, Bereishit 38:7) on this verse makes a very poignant comment. The word “kedem” can be related to the word “Kadmono” — the ancient One (Hashem) — Who preceded all humanity. And the Torah is telling us “It came to pass when they journeyed away from kedem — the Ancient (Kadmon) of the world,” saying “we refuse to accept either Him or His Divinity.” The Torah also says “Hashem descended to see the city and tower which the sons of man built” (11:5). Such an antagonistic endeavor is despised by Hashem and He ended its construction.

A Chassidic story relates that an impressive looking person once appeared to Rabbi Nachum of Chernobyl offering to teach him esoteric Torah knowledge. He replied, “Before I can agree to accept your offer, I must consult with my Rebbe, the Maggid of Mezritz.” The Maggid listened attentively and then said, “It was very wise of you not to immediately agree because the person who approached you was from the realm of evil. Incidentally, tell me, where did you get the intuition to turn down such a seemingly valuable offer?”

Rabbi Nachum told him that when he was a very young child, his mother passed away. His father remarried and his step-mother treated him very harshly. “Once, when I came home from cheider to eat lunch, my step-mother was not home. On the stove were fried eggs. Knowing the size of the portion my step-mother would usually give me, I took a somewhat smaller portion for myself. She came home while I was eating and slapped me. I asked her, ‘What have I done wrong? You were not home and I took less than what you would normally have given me.’

“Her reply was ‘Alein nemt men nit’ — ‘You do not take by yourself.’ This episode taught me a lesson which remained with me throughout my entire life. Regardless of all my calculations, ‘Alein nemt men nit.’ ”

We are living in dangerous and difficult times. There are floods of various “isms” and alien forces to Torah that threaten the very existence of the Jews. Building Torah-inspired homes is a must for our future and security. However, one must always remember that the Jew doesn’t do things alein — on his own. The homes we build must be also a home for G‑d and in accordance with G‑d’s instruction. Hashem blesses such homes with stability and durability.

Hopefully, you dear Chatan and Kallah will build a Divinely inspired home that will resemble the atmosphere that prevailed in Noach’s ark, and similarly, it will be a benefit and pride to you, your family and the entire Jewish community.


Every Chatan and Kallah aspire to build a bayit ne’eman beYisrael — a true Jewish home that will be a landmark in the Jewish community. The question however is what actually goes into such a home? Where do we find the blueprints and the architectural design to succeed in this endeavor?

From even a cursory analysis it is evident that the majority of Parshat Noach revolves around construction. Noach built an ark which weathered the storm for an entire year, safely carrying him through an unparalleled deluge, a 40-day continuous downpour of hot and cold water plus waters emerging from the fountains of the great deep.

Now let us study Hashem’s instructions to Noach concerning how to make the ark and the profound message which can be learnt by all those who want build their home to Hashem’s pleasing.

For the actual construction Noach was told to use gopher wood, which the Gemara (Sanhedrin 108b) says is a species of cedar. Noach was told to make a window, door, and compartments, and three floors, one on top of the other. Hashem also commanded, “You shall finish [the width] above to an amah — one cubit — and also that it should be tarred on the inside and the outside” (6:14-16).

Every tree is unique in some way. The cedar is strong with a multitude of roots, and all the winds of the world cannot uproot it (Yalkut Shimoni 92).

The roots of a house are its foundation. The Lubavitcher Rebbe in his letters to couples who are about to wed extends the blessing “that they merit to build a home in Israel on the foundations of Torah and Mitzvot as they are illuminated by Torat HaChassidut.” In other words, for a home to be strong and lasting like a cedar, it must have a good foundation — well rooted in the spirit of Torah.

A Jewish home must have a window so that a person can look out and see what is happening in the world around him and contemplate how he can make it a better place. The home should not be a place where the inhabitants are closed off from the world and selfishly have no interest or concern for anybody other than themselves.

A Jewish home should have a door. It should not be an “off limits” place which is closed off to people other than the inhabitants. Our Sages have taught “Let your house be a meeting place for Sages” (Avot 1:4), and thus the house should be a place where people come for Torah lectures. The home should also be a hospitality center, as the Sages instructed “Let your home be wide open [for guests] and may the poor be members of your household” (Avot 1:5).

Hashem told Noach — “Kinin ta’aseh lateivah — make rooms — compartments — in the ark.” This stresses the need for separations. There should be a separation between milchig and fleishig, and between chameitz and matzah. It is also important to distinguish between profane and holy, between the permissible and the forbidden. A person should resolve that not everything can come into the home, nor can everything be done in the home. Another important thing accomplished by partitions is tzeniut — modesty.

The three floors represent the three things upon which the world rests, according to our Sages. They are Torah, Avodah, and Gemilut Chassadim (Avot 1:2). A Jewish home should be a microcosm of the world in which these three ideals are the pillars.

It should be tarred inside and outside. The spirit and dedication to Torah and mitzvot should not just be inside the home but also identically on the outside. Unlike the popular slogan of the early Reform movement in Germany, “Yehudi bebeitecha ve’adam betzeitecha” — “Be a Jew in your home and a person [like everyone else] when you go outside.” The real Jewish home and its residents are “tarred” on the inside and outside with the identical adherence to Torah and mitzvot.

Last but not least, it should be slanted on top to an amah — cubit — width. The word “amah” (אמה) is an acronym for “Elokeinu Melech Ha’olam — “Our G‑d, is the King of the Universe” (אלקינו מלך העולם). From the Jewish home there should emanate a proclamation to the entire world that our G‑d, Who is the true G‑d, is the King of the Universe. All inhabitants must observe His Torah or the Noachide laws and transform the whole world into a fitting dwelling place for Him.

My dear Chatan and Kallah, resolve to build such a home and you may can be assured that it will be a binyan adei ad, an everlasting edifice which will weather all storms and keep you and your family safe and happy.

(הדרש והעיון ועי' לקוטי שיחות ח"א)


After Noach came out a hero from the ark, he debased himself and shamefully succumbed to intoxication. During this debacle his son Cham acted disgracefully and humiliated his father and derisively told his brothers Sheim and Yefet about it. Sheim took the initiative and with the assistance of his brother Yefet they prevented any further embarrassment for their father.

When Noach sobered up he expressed his thanks and appreciation to his two sons for their meritorious deeds and said “May G‑d extend Yefet and may He dwell in the tents of Sheim” (9:27).

According to the simple interpretation it seems that this is a blessing to each one of his two children. Yefet was blessed with material abundance and Sheim’s blessing was spiritual: that G‑d should dwell in his tents — that Hashem’s Divine Presence should rest upon the Jewish people.

The Gemara (Megillah 9b), however, offers another interpretation. Accordingly, the word “yaft” — does not mean extend, enlargement, or expansion; rather it stems from the word “yafeh” — “beauty.”

Thus, the verse can be expounded to mean: “Yafyafito shel Yefet yehei be’ohalei Sheim” — “The beauty of Yefet shall be in the tents of Sheim.” Hence, Noach was saying: “May Hashem beautify Yefet and it [Yefet’s beauty] will dwell in the tents of Sheim.” Accordingly, the phrase “veyishkon be’ohalei Sheim” is not rendered as “He [Hashem] will dwell in the tents of Sheim,” but rather “And [the beauty of Yefet] shall dwell in the tents of Sheim.”

According to this interpretation of the Sages, Yafet, too, is blessed with beauty, but essentially the entire pasuk is a blessing for Sheim that he should be the one to enjoy this beauty.

Now one may rightfully wonder why Noach did not suffice with blessing Sheim that the Divine Presence dwell among his descendants — the Jewish people. Why did he also assign him the yaft — beauty — of Yefet?

Noach recognized Sheim’s beautiful qualities and meritorious deeds. Noach felt that Sheim’s righteousness did not mean that he should be denied the beautiful objects of this world. In the Gemara (Horiyot 10b) Rava says “Is it then loathsome for the righteous to enjoy two worlds? Fortunate are the righteous who are treated in this world according to the typical lot of the wicked in this world.” That is, the ideal situation would be for bounty to be bestowed upon the righteous in this world and the next, so that they would live under favorable conditions in both worlds!

Noach’s blessing to Sheim, thus, was that the Jewish people should have beauty no less than Yefet (Greece), but it must be placed at the service of the spiritual truths represented by Sheim. When the beauty of Yefet is divorced from the tents of Sheim — spirituality — it can be harmful. Without a higher goal which controls perceptions and expressions of beauty, man can descend to immorality and hedonism. Together they [spirituality and beauty] are the perfection Noach envisioned.

My dear Chatan and Kallah, every young couple aspire to the yaft of Yefet according to both interpretations of the word — “extension” and “beauty.” All hope for a life in which their material achievement will be both beharchavah — extended and enlarged — as well as yafeh — beautiful. They should remember, however, that their goal must be that Hashem will dwell in the yaft. The synthesis of gashmiyut and ruchniyut — materialism and spirituality — is what we, the generations of Sheim, were blessed with and must strive for. We must always remember the words of King Shlomo, the wisest of men, “Beauty [in itself] is vain; a woman who fears Hashem is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).

"על כן יעזוב איש את אביו ואת אמו ודבק באשתו והיה לבשר אחד"
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and cling to his wife and they shall become one flesh.” (Bereishit 2:24)

QUESTION: What is the connection between leaving fathers and mothers and becoming one flesh?

ANSWER: The word “ish” — “man” (איש) has the numerical value of 311. The words “aviv ve’imo” — “his father and his mother” (אביו ואמו) — have the numerical value of 72.

The word “ishah” — “wife” (אשה) has the numerical value of 311 and the words “lebasar echad — “one flesh” (לבשר אחד) — numerically add up to 545.

The Torah is thus saying that when the “ish” (311) will “leave” i.e., deduct from it, “aviv ve’imo” (72) and “vedavak” — cling to, i.e. add to this, the numerical value of “ishto” [his] ishah — wife — (311) — the total will be 545. Hence, they will become lebasar echad — one flesh (545).

(אור מלא – קאסאן – בשם זקנו הבני שלשים)