Parshat Noach: Arkeology & Arkitecture

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Dam Breaking
30 Oct 2008
Arts & Media



The floodgates swing wide open




The world accosted by a storm:


Waters, knowledge, ideas, in many forms

And deforms, in countless texts and textures,

Some wet, others dry, some deep as a cut, others

Shallow as a grave, some sharp as a tongue, others

Blunt as a fact, flood the mind like a rapid river that

Doesn’t give a dam…


Emotions swirl in a violent tempest: temper long lost and

Not soon found; a storm of feelings, influences, hurts, loves

And immune apathies rages on like an angry school principle.


(If we would leave the pen for the pun, we’d say:

The world is delugenal.)


Arms flail and try to swim, but it’s no use.

Perhaps there’s a shout for help but if there

Is it only sounds like an echo reverberating

Off the empty walls of a cavernous situation

Without even a reply to halt the pathetic, Help! Help! Help!


Gulp and begin to drown…



You and your household

To the ark


Ark these words



(This here might be the ark side of the moon.)


True, there will be flood and storm-brought confusion

In this universe – it is the modus operandi of universes

Everywhere – however, it is also (if not more) true that

We have the ability to weather (not whether) the storm

And beat the flooding – this is the modus operandi of

People everywhere.


It is what those of the English persuasion would call an Ark;

We of the Holy Tongue persuasion (and who isn’t persuaded

In that way, at least to some extent) would call it a Tayvah:


Tayvah, besides for being an ark, a vessel in which to ride waves

Of the nautical kind, also translates as Word, a vessel with which to

Ride waves of a much different – and yet just as stormy – kind.


What type of ark can protect us from the kind of flood that isn’t wet?


Words – words of prayer, words of torah, words of comfort, words of peace.


Just as the ark back then was an island of calm on a sea of turmoil

So too is today’s ark – a prayer in the morning, a study session in the

Evening – a slice of peaceful harmony in a deluge of fragmented confusion.


Go forth from the ark


But an ark, a place of peace and harmony, a moment of

Sincerity and unity, where even animals can live together,

Is not a place, a moment, from which one goes forth easily.


But we do not live for what is easy; we live for what is right:

True we must have our arks, the words of prayer and torah

With which to guide us through the storm that is life, but we

Cannot remain boxed into our own little world – we’ve got to

Go forth from the ark, lest we become as stale as the flood itself.

We must go forth and bring the ark, the letters forth with us

So that a flood never drowns anyone ever again.


Arkeology & Arkitecture:


The study and texture of Noah’s – and our – ark


Perhaps an arketype if you will.

Mendel Jacobson is a writer, poet and journalist living in Brooklyn. His weekly poetry can be seen at

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.