Moti Zilberstein is an undergraduate student at UCLA
In the very beginning of this week’s Torah portion, G-d tells Noach, “You shall make for yourself a “Tzohar” [usually translated as “a window”] in the Ark” (Genesis 6:16). But what does Tzohar mean? Tzohar comes from the Hebrew word Tzoharaim, which means afternoon, and in the afternoon we see light. Therefore, Rashi gives two explanations in his commentary: He explains, first, that God told Noach he should make a skylight or alternatively, that a precious stone should be brought into the Ark, which would provide light.
However, this brings up a couple questions. The first opinion of Rashi — that God commanded Noach to make a skylight — does not really make sense because a single skylight would not suffice to brighten the entire Ark. The second question, similarly, is how would one light-bringing stone provide enough light for the massive Ark. Now, another explanation that is not from Rashi, says that Tzohar was a massive pot of oil from which Noach took this oil and made little lamps around the Ark. Why does Rashi not bring this explanation up? In truth, it is quite clear that Noach should know to bring light into the Ark, and the Torah does not have to tell us things that are completely obvious.
If, then, Noach is going to bring in light anyways, then what purpose does the verse commanding him to bring “Tzohar” into the Ark serve? It seems God is telling Noach something different: Later in the Parsha, Noach mentions to God that he cannot see anything because during the flood it was very dark outside. Noach, without God’s instruction, would have no reason to build a skylight since there was no light to let in. However, God commands Noach to build a skylight because these dark days will not last forever — good times are coming. If he does not build a window, then Noach will not be able to see the light that follows the dispair.
We, too, can take the lesson to build a window despite the floods that come and go in our lives. When facing challenges, we must keep ourselves open to the world, not closed to it. We have to embrace the challenges and always leave an open window to remember that things will get better.
Another way to understand the metaphor of the Tzohar is that once we create a window to see God in every aspect of our lives, then we will able to see that as mundane a thing as a tree shines like the precious stone in the Ark and that the simplistic things will be transformed holy objects. So, make sure that there is always a window in your life — a window of hope, a window of spirituality — and you will always be happy, which will allow you to spread that happiness to other people’s lives.
A poem, which I wrote, that I would like to share:
And always remember life is not always fair
As things will happen to all of us
And it’s very easy to get upset and fuss
But in the end of the day how does that help?
And even when someone does something bad to you, it does not help to get upset, and right away, write him a bad review on yelp
Rather know that everything is from G-d and the things he throws at us is just to make us stronger
Because he knows that no matter what we go through, we can conquer
We just need to build a window in our lives
And we always need to try to be in a happy mood, it could be by giving people high fives
And if you always leave that window open in order to receive G-ds blessings
Then in life, you will continue progressing
Because you will know that even in times of despair
G-d still loves you because in the end of the day, you’re still breathing pure air
As that is a miracle within itself
And I’m giving you a blessing that you should continue in life to have that window open and shall you see yourself excel
Wishing you a Shabbat that is fantastic
And always in life try your best to remain, even during tough times, enthusiastic