(The following is a constructed midrash of the final days on the ark)
It was a brisk afternoon in late October. Noah looked out from his Teiva and noticed how the tips of the mountains had begun exposing their nibs through the ocean foam. These bare protrusions, a souvenir of life before the wrathful rains. The tumult from the Teiva cut through the serene empty vista. Earth immersed in a Mikvah and emerged a guiltless suckling. It was time to send out a prophet, to deliver the good word, that Hashem’s judgment had been vindicated. Noah called out to Yonah, “Yonah, please be the deliverer of this good news. Go out to all those who committed chamas. Tell them that this world is forever reformed, that no such punishment will ever occur to these people again.”
When Yonah heard this, Yonah was shocked. How could this be? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Yonah wanted no part in it.
But Noah wouldn’t hear another word. He took Yonah and cast him out to sea. As soon as his wings started flapping, he turned the other direction. He knew that there were mountaintops, but he couldn’t fathom a God that would so quickly repeal his own dictum.
So Yonah fled, and Yonah returned empty-beaked, with no twig of which to show for. Swallowed by his temporary home, the teva, Yonah had seven days to reflect in his sukkah. Over those seven days, Yonah looked at Noah and looked back at himself. He realized that only he could be the progression to the story. The people that Noah fought against, the people of chamas, people that had the chet at the beginning. And instead of having the nun, his nun was ensconced by the mem and the somech around him. Noah was one amidst his own generation. But Yonah battled with the people of Nineveh. He saw the yud vav nun hay of them.
But he was not able to see the added nun.
The nun is the nun of the fifty gates of purity which they had achieved within themselves. Yonah saw in himself a progression from Noah. He invoked the Thirteen Middot of HaShem with the difference of the gematria between Yonah and Noah equaling that thirteen. But he did not see the thirteen middot in the chamas to the Nineveh.
He did not see how much alike he was with the rest of those around him. And so Noah cast him out one more time. After taking this deep reflection, Yonah’s wings started flapping. And flapping they did all the way to Yerushalyim, where an olive branch resided on a kikayon. HaShem had provided him the opportunity to return back to Noah, to allow the judgment to dissipate and dissolve. And the evaporated water was able to return to shamayim.
This essay is part of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah’s weekly parsha wisdom. Each week, graduates of YCT share their thoughts on the parsha, refracted through the lens of their rabbinates and the people they are serving, with all of us.