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We must transform physical reality until it shines with the divine light.

The Shining Stone of Noah's Ark

The Shining Stone of Noah's Ark

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The Shining Stone of Noah's Ark
We must transform physical reality until it shines with the divine light.
Details…were left to Noah's judgment….

Noah's ark is described in detail in the Torah as an enclosed four sided structure with only one opening to the outside, on the very top, as the verse says, "make a window for the ark." (Gen. 6:16) The Hebrew word that the Torah uses for 'window/tzohar' refers to something that shines. Some of the commentaries suggest that it was a skylight; others describe it as a type of precious stone that emitted light. How was it possible that one small opening, either a single window or a precious stone was able to light up the entire ark, especially since each type of animal had its own compartment (Rashi on 6:14) and each floor was separate from the next? Also, we know that the light of the sun and the moon did not penetrate during the Flood (see Rashi 8:22) so how could a window have helped anyway? There had to have been other light sources. Thus, we understand that Noah was not given every single small instruction about the ark's construction or furnishings, only those that were not obvious, and that details like bringing oil lamps and wicks and any other needs were left to Noah's judgment. Therefore, there must be a special intention in the commandment to make a "tzohar", applicable not only for Noah's ark but for future generations.

What is the difference between a window and a light producing stone? A window's light comes from outside, while a tzohar stone shines from within. Bearing in mind that the whole purpose of a Jewish person's life is to bring and reveal divine light in the world, we can see how the two different interpretations of tzohar demonstrate for us the different courses a person can take in fulfilling his purpose, to serve G‑d.

Our purpose is to remove …the concealment of nature so that the divine light can shine through….

First, let's explain about a window: G‑d created the world. Within this creation is hidden divine light, in every aspect of our day to day lives. Our purpose is to remove the concealment - to make a "window" within the concealment of nature so that the divine light can shine through. An example of this is when a businessman steps back from the momentum of his life for a minute to see divine providence, G‑d's guidance, is in every detail. Chassidim tell a story about a man balancing his income and expenses, until he got to the sum total; "What is the real bottom line?" he asked himself and then answered, "That there is nothing besides G‑d." And the truth is, because the divine light is hidden in nature, a businessman who is "in the world" can see it more clearly than a person whose whole life is devoted just to spiritual service.

What does the shining stone mean for us? Though a person must remove the concealment, he can also transform the world until the physical reality itself will shine with the divine light. We must cause the "stone" (i.e. the dormant and inanimate) to shine with holiness. This is the businessman who realizes that the purpose of every challenge – i.e. the dormant stone - is to reveal the divine sparks hidden therein, to make it shine. He can do this by making it part of his business to learn Torah; or to "interrupt" his work to pray the afternoon prayers; or even to share a Jewish word with his business opponents across the table because this is the true purpose. He knows that G‑d will send him the livelihood he needs, and he must do his job to reveal light. G‑d will do His part, and we must do ours. It's a deal!

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul


Copyright 2003 by KabbalaOnline.org, a project of Ascent of Safed (//ascentofsafed.com). All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, unless with permission, in writing, from Kabbala Online.

Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter is a co-founder, executive director and featured teacher of Ascent-of-Safed.
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Connie Canton, GA February 23, 2012

tzohar would like to know if there are more stories in the Talmud that relate to this stone or a similar stone or tzohar that was passed on to joseph, daniel...etc. Reply

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