Have you ever stopped to think about just how much in our lives depends upon (teivos) words? Although in theory, we could manage the basic tasks of survival without them, it doesn’t take much imagination to appreciate that without language we would probably function much as the animals do, but in a less accomplished fashion, since we lack the instincts and physical prowess that they were given. Language is a repository for human traditions and culture. Each nation uses words that convey the collective cultural, historical and geographic experiences of its people and their unique worldview. These words, however, are descriptive, but not creative.
(Lashon Hakodesh) Hebrew is a unique language in that it was the instrument with which the Creator fashioned the creation. Thus the DNA, the blueprint, of the created universe, exists within the letters and words of the (Torah) Five Books of Moses. Consequently a word in Lashon Hakodesh not only describes the subject, it literally creates it and continues to do so.
When (Hashem) G-d brought the flood waters to inundate the world, He directed Noach to build a (teiva) Ark. In Lashon Hakodesh, “ark” and “word” are cognates, that is, they are both composed of the same letters. This is not mere coincidence. There is a profound spiritual message in that equivalence. Sheltered within that “word-Ark”- were all of the precious letters and words which were going to ensure the continued physical and most significantly the spiritual survival of its hand picked human passengers and their ecosystem, the necessary animals, birds and vegetation that made up their world.
This “word-Ark” was constructed of certain specific dimensions. The dimensions of the Ark were (shin) three hundred (amos) cubits long; (nun) fifty (amos) cubits wide and (lamed) thirty (amos) cubits high. The three letters, nun, shin and lamed, which are embedded within these dimensions, form an(rashei teivos) acronym for the three major motivators of human behavior – the (neshama) soul, the (seichel) mind, and the (lev) heart.
These qualities are expressed through the personalities of the three sons of Noach whose names were: Shem, Cham and Yafes. Shem personifies the (neshama) soul in all of us which ideally is drawn to the spiritual and dedicated to learning and following the ways of Hashem. Cham personifies our (lev) hearts through which the emotions are expressed. Yafes personifies our (seichel )intellect whose cultural and esthetic pursuits should ideally be directed at refining and adorning a person’s good deeds and Torah study ( as it is written in the Zohar Chadash Part I parashas Noach, 36a).
Like the Ark – words, too, are a vehicle. They are the repository for our thoughts, ideas, dreams and hopes. Just as the Ark had three dimensions, length, width and height, language has three dimensions. These dimensions in our verbal expression provide the means for setting course and direction and maintaining balance and stability in our lives. The quality in language which gives direction to our thoughts is our seichel, our unique intelligence that assists us in navigating through life’s challenges. This attribute is expressed through the Ark’s shin amos length. The characteristic of language that provides stability and guidance is our neshama which endow us with the spiritual balance that keeps us at an even keel as we face adversity during our voyage through the seas of this physical world. This attribute is expressed though the nun amos width of the Ark. The trait in language which provides the emotional coloration, the vitality and enthusiasm is the lev – our heart. This attribute is expressed through the lamed amos height of the Ark.
We are all well aware of the power of speech which can either build or destroy worlds. When Shem, our neshoma, takes the lead in our lives and focuses us upon the service of Hashem, and Yafes, our minds which supplies the intellectual support for that endeavor and in conjunction with Cham, our hearts providing the inspiration, we are able to produce spiritually empowered (siach) speech spelled out in Loshen HaKodesh – the Sin of Sham, the Yud of Yafes and the Ches of Cham which becomes the vehicle for the Torah directed communication of ideas that shapes and sustains the world.
When Noach emerged from the Ark, he offered (korbano) sacrifices, to praise and thank Hashem. Today, we accomplish this through our words of (tefilla) prayer. Indeed, when we perform the (mitzvos) commandments and make them the primary focus of our lives, they become the guiding light over all aspects of our neshama, thereby transforming our siach, speech, into a sincere appeal for our long awaited (Moshiach) true redeemer. Moshiach spelled in the order of mem, shin, yud, ches alludes to the perfection of all mankind through our Mitzvos guiding our neshamos – Shem – to its fulfillment, then directing our intellect – Yafes to its fullest potential and thereby guiding our heart – Cham – to its fullest potential. This will be one of the powers of healing and rectification that the Moshiach will bring to the world.
May we all fill our (teivos) Arks with (kedusha) holiness so that they can serve as a sanctuary for us in our voyage through this world thereby meriting to complete our passage through the storms of (galus) exile safely returning us to our home port of final (geula) redemption soon in our days.