Noach by Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron בס"ד
Discover the Holy Presence in the Holy Land
Sending the Dove
Our Sages teach that confidence in HaShem is not only a mitzvah but it is also beneficial in achieving what one hopes for, working in a similar fashion as prayer. One of the verses of the Ketuvim, in Kohelet, that illustrates the trust in HaShem is ‘cast your bread upon the waters for after numbers of days you will find it’ (Eccl. 11). One of the interpretations of this verse by our Sages is that if one trusts God and gives his ‘bread’, i.e financial support, to Torah study, which is likened to ‘water’, then he will be rewarded in the end by Divine aid in his financial endeavors – ‘after numbers of days you will find it.’ The great Amoraic Master Rabbi Yohanan taught that even what is written in the Ketuvim (and also Neviím) must be hinted at as well in the Humash. Therefore, we may say that this image of sustenance upon waters may be hinted to by Noah’s sending off the dove, by which Noah and all inhabitants of the Ark were dependent on for their sustenance, upon the waters of the Flood.
If we imagine ourselves in Noah’s predicament, we realize how great was Noah’s trust in God’s promise to end the Flood, using such a small and vulnerable creature to ‘check the waters’ in hope for salvation. Indeed, the image of the dove returning with an olive leaf may hint at an important component in the secret of truly trusting Hashem. Our Sages say that the olive leaf signifies that it is better to have trust in Hashem for sustenance, even if it is bitter as an olive, than to have trust in sustenance “sweet as honey” from the hands of people. This matter may hint to an important principle in the trusting Hashem specified in the sefer Hovot Halevavot (Shaár Habitahon): genuine trust in Hashem must be solely upon Hashem and not on others, even they may operate as conduits of Hashem’s aid. Kabbalistically speaking, the olive is the sixth species of the seven species by which the Land of Israel is praised, thereby corresponding to the sixth sefira of the seven lower sefirot, i.e., the sefira of ÿesod.” The sefira of yesod is associated with trustworthiness, covenant, purity, and faithfulness. Therefore, this fits perfectly with the dove, considered by our Sages to be a symbol of faithfulness, as it is faithful to its sole mate (see Midrash Tanhuma Tetzaveh 5, Shabbat 100b). Here too we may say that the genuine trust solely on Hashem is also integrally related to one’s trustworthiness and faithfulness to Hashem as one’s sole Saviour, also considered as the sole “Mate” of the People of Israel. This matter also fits perfectly with Noah, the sender of the dove, who is identified as a “tzadik” – “righteous man” in the beginning of this parsha, this term connoting the sefira of ÿesod”according to the Zohar, i.e being used especially in regard to one who is pure, faithful, and trustworthy in relationships. Also, the rainbow at the end of the Flood, signifies the covenant, as it says in this parsha that it [the rainbow] will be a sign of covenant between Me (Hashem) and earth.” (Breshit 9, 13) In contrast, the Zohar talks at length how much of the Flood was due to that generation’s immoral relationships. Therefore, we may say that “keeping the covenant,”is a key theme of this parsha, teaching us as well how to survive all troubles and reach salvation by being trustworthy to Hashem and His covenant with us.
Just as we can find parallels between the verse in Kohelet and Noah’s dove, so too we can find a parallel between the dove sent after the 40 days of the Flood and the messengers sent by Joshua, to conquer the Land of Israel generally and the city of Jericho specifically, after 40 years in the Wilderness, which corresponded to 40 days of the spies journey to the Land. We may say that what Noah’s spirit of trust did in regard to the dove he sent, Hebron did for Kaleb sent first by Moshe and then by Joshua. Hebron reminded Kaleb and reminds us of our true home, Palace of the King of Kings, instilling us with the confidence and trust in God our King to move forward towards our redemption.
On 27 June 1976, an Air France plane with 248 passengers was hijacked by Arab and German terrorists, and flown to Entebbe, Uganda’s main airport. Uganda’s government provided cover for the hijackers who were welcomed personally by dictator Idi Amin. Initially, the terrorists separated the Israelis and Jews from the larger group of hostages and forced them into another room. The first day, 47 non-Israeli hostages were released. The next day, 101 more non-Israeli hostages were allowed to leave. More than 100 Israeli and Jewish passengers remained as the hijackers threatened to kill them if their demands were not met. This threat led to the planning of the rescue operation. Israeli government and military considered many options, yet what seemed like the most improbable choice was made. In a modern version of David the child taking on Goliath the giant, an Israeli commando force of some 100 soldiers was trained and briefed, practicing and preparing for any imaginable scenario. One of these was securing a Mercedes that was the same as that of Idi Amin, painting it to look like Amin’s car and, after touchdown, driving that car loaded with Israeli troops straight to the terminal building. Operation Thunderbolt was led by Lt. Col. Yonatan Netanyahu, composed entirely of elite commandos. His unit was given the primary task of attacking the airport terminal and rescuing the hostages. A Paratroopers force was tasked with securing the civilian airfield, clearing and securing the runways, and protecting and fueling the Israeli planes. A group from Israel’s famed Golani unit secured the C-130 Hercules aircraft for the hostages’ evacuation, getting as close as possible to the terminal to board the hostages. Another elite commando unit was tasked with destroying the squadron of MiG fighter planes on the ground to prevent any possible interceptions by the Ugandan Air Force, and holding off potential hostile ground forces. The operation took place under cover of night and a nearly new moon. In what took most of a week to plan, the operation lasted less time than the length of the movies made to tell the story. 102 hostages were rescued. Five Israeli commandos were wounded and one was killed. Three hostages, all the hijackers, and 45 Ugandan soldiers were killed. Most of Uganda’s Soviet-built MiGs were destroyed. It would have been impossible for Israel to transport a convoy of planes and equipment 2500 miles alone, undetected, without God’s protection and the involvement of numerous people He set in place to help carry out the mission.