Pinny Arnon

The 14th Century Commentary on the word ‘Hamas’ in Parshas Noach

Photo by Micah Camper on Unsplash

This week’s parsha tells us that the flood that came in Noah’s days was the result of the fact that the earth was “filled with Hamas” (Genesis 6:11). The term “Hamas” is translated as “violence,” “lawlessness,” or “robbery.” Every Hebrew letter corresponds to a number (the first letter, aleph, equals 1, the second letter Beis, equals 2, etc.), and the 14th century sage Baal HaTurim notes that “חמס/Hamas” has the same numerological value as the phrase “מי נח/Mei Noach/the waters of Noah” (both terms equaling 108).

The Baal HaTurim further notes that “Hamas” is the numerical equivalent of the word “גיהנם/Gehinnom/purgatory” (which also equals 108). Gehinnom is sometimes translated as “hell,” but Torah does not believe in a realm of eternal damnation. Gehinnom is a temporary purgatory realm where the soul is cleansed of its connection to the physical world and thus prepared to enter the spiritual realms unencumbered.

The correlation of the term “Hamas” to both “the waters of Noah” and “purgatory” teaches us a profound lesson for this moment. Not only do we learn that the floodwaters came to purify the world of Hamas/violence, but this also indicates that it is the violence and lawlessness that we experience which ultimately precipitates a new and more ideal world.

Subsequent to the flood, Noah emerged from the ark to find a new earth with a brand new potential to make it the place of peace and Godliness that it was intended to be. Subsequent to the cleansing of purgatory, the soul enters the heavenly realms where it basks in the splendor of G-d’s infinite benevolent light.

May it be that the violence and lawlessness that the world has just experienced will be washed away, and may it prove to be the immediate precursor to the world of peace and unity that we have been praying and working for throughout the millennia!

Pnei Hashem is an introduction to the deepest depths of the human experience based on the esoteric teachings of Torah.

About the Author
Pinny Arnon is an award-winning writer in the secular world who was introduced to the wellsprings of Torah as a young adult. After decades of study and frequent interaction with some of the most renowned Rabbis of the generation, Arnon has been encouraged to focus his clear and incisive writing style on the explication of the inner depths of Torah.
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