After the earth thoroughly dried out in the aftermath of the flood, G-d commanded Noach to leave the Ark together with his entire family. G-d then commanded Noach to take out all living creatures from the Ark so that "they be fruitful and multiply on the earth."
Since the earth was already suitable for habitation, why did G-d find it necessary to command Noach to leave the Ark, and moreover, issue yet a second command concerning all other creatures. Even if G-d had not commanded all the above to Noach, wouldn't Noach have naturally done so on his own?
The conditions of peace and harmony that existed in the Ark was similar to that which will exist with Mashiach's arrival, at which time "The wolf will live with the sheep and the leopard will lie down with the kid...." So, too, the Ark contained all types of animals, among them carnivores, yet "they did not act badly at all one to another, nor did they destroy one another."
This is why even after the earth had become dry G-d had to command Noach to leave the Ark, for Noach was reluctant to leave the ark, inasmuch as he was in a place and state that was very similar to the Time to Come. The animals as well were loath to leave the Ark and revert to their previous primal state. It was therefore necessary that both Noach as well as the living creatures be commanded to leave the Ark.
From the fact that all living creatures, both man and animal were in fact commanded to leave the Ark, it is evident that the superior state of the Ark notwithstanding, there was a unique and special quality that could only be accomplished upon dry land. What was this special quality?
As long as Noach and all other living creatures were in the Ark they were forbidden to "be fruitful and multiply"; only after they left the Ark was this prohibition lifted. The Torah indicates this by stating that G-d said to Noach that he go out "together with his wife," as well as explicitly stating that the animals "be fruitful and multiply upon the earth."
As this was the very first command that was issued to Noach both with regard to himself as well as with regard to all living creatures, we thus understand that this was not merely a case of lifting the previous restriction of procreating while in the Ark. Rather, the commandment to "be fruitful and multiply" was indeed the very intent and purpose of leaving the Ark. How are we to understand this?
The cramped space of the Ark precluded fecundity; most assuredly it prevented "filling the earth." Departing the Ark subsequent to the "obliteration of all existence on the face of the earth," necessarily first and foremost involved the need to "be fruitful and multiply" and to once again "fill the earth."
All matters physical descend from their spiritual source and counterpart. So, too, regarding "being fruitful and multiplying" after leaving the Ark.
Childbearing, a process that goes on endlessly from generation to generation, is indicative of G-d's power of the infinite, His endless and limitless powers and abilities.
Herein lay the difference between the state of affairs within the Ark as contrasted to the conditions outside the Ark:
Undoubtedly, within the Ark there was manifest a tremendous degree of revelation of G-dliness, a revelation that brought about utter peace between the animals, a revelation akin to the Time to Come.
Nevertheless, this revelation was inherently limited by the fact that it was the delight and elevation of created beings -- they had become higher, they were living in peace and harmony. No matter how blissful the delight and how lofty the elevation of a created being, it must -- like the very being itself -- be congenitally limited.
However, serving G-d outside the Ark, i.e., within the normal physical confines of the world, where the world performs according to its natural tendencies, the tendencies of the "lowliest of worlds, there being none lower than it," there G-d's truly infinite desire and delight are realized. For G-d desired a dwelling place for His truly unlimited Essence specifically in this physical world.
The lesson here is twofold:
First, we cannot ensconce ourselves in the "Ark" of Torah and prayer, living a life similar to the life in the Time to Come, and be utterly unconcerned about what is doing outside our reclusive Ark. Rather, like Noach, we are commanded to "Go out of the Ark" and see to it that the world as a whole spiritually and morally "bears fruit and multiplies."
An additional lesson: Noach's first command was to "be fruitful and multiply" in the simple sense of the words, to repopulate and make up for all the souls lost in the horrendous flood.
So, too, regarding our present generation:
Our own generation, having undergone its own holocaust and flood in which such a great part of the Jewish people were destroyed, has as its first obligation to "be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth."
Especially so, during present times, as we await the imminent arrival of Mashiach, for -- as our Sages state -- our bearing children has a direct effect on the speedy arrival of our Righteous Mashiach.
Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXV, pp. 28-37.
- (Back to text) Bereishis 8:14-17 and commentary of Rashi on verse 14.
- (Back to text) See Hemshech v'Kacha 5637, chapters 95-96. See also commentary of Radak on Bereishis 6:21, Yeshayahu 11:6.
- (Back to text) Yeshayahu 11:6.
- (Back to text) Hemshech v'Kacha, ibid.
- (Back to text) See Rashi, Bereishis 6:18, 7:7, and 8:16.
- (Back to text) See Likkutei Torah, Shir HaShirim 40:a; beginning of Hemshech Samach T'Samach 5657.
- (Back to text) Tanya, ch. 36.
- (Back to text) See beginning of Hemshech 5666, et al.
- (Back to text) Yevamos 62a and commentary of Rashi.