Was Israel affected by the flood?


In Parshat Noach, Breisheet 7:23 we read:

All existence on earth was blotted out — man, cattle, creeping things and birds of the sky; they were blotted out from the earth. Only Noach was left and those with him on the ark.

Pirkei D’Rebi Eliezer points out that the flood was universal except in the Land of Israel, upon which the water of the flood did not descend from heaven, but the waters were gathered together from all the lands and they entered therein as it says in Yechezkel 22:24: “Son of man, say to her, you are a land not cleansed, not swept with rain on the day of rage.”

In Breisheet 8:11 the dove brought back an olive branch:

The dove came to him toward evening, and behold, in her mouth was a torn off olive leaf. Noach knew then that the water had subsided from the earth.

Where did the olive branch come from?

In Breisheet Rabba 33:6 Rabbi Abba said: She brought it from the young shoots of Eretz Yisrael. Rabbi Levi explains where in Israel it came from: She brought it from the Mount of Oil (Olives)- Har HaZeitim- since the Land of Israel was not inundated by the water of the flood and therefore full trees remained there.

Ramban points out that since the torrential rain did not come down upon the Land of Israel and the windows of heaven were not opened there, the trees remained intact while in the rest of the world they were broken and uprooted by the flood.

The dove specifically bringing an olive branch which symbolizes peace shows us that even in the toughest times we will prevail.

While we are fighting this war in Israel, it is hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel.  Rabbeinu Bachya (Shmot 27:20) teaches that the mystical dimension of the story of the dove bringing back the olive branch is that olive oil was intentionally chosen to be the only oil that was permitted to be used to light the Menorah in the Mishkan and in the Beit HaMikdash since the olive is a symbol of bringing light to the world.

Israel is unique as although it got wet by the waters flowing into Israel, it was not destroyed by torrential downpours.

Israelis are unique as even in the toughest of times we persevere.

As we begin the rainy season in Israel, let’s pray for constructive rain that will provide us with much needed water and healing.

About the Author
Sharona holds a BA in Judaic Studies from Stern College and an MS in Jewish Education from Azrieli Graduate School, Yeshiva University. Sharona was the first Congregational Intern and Madricha Ruchanit at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, NY. After making aliya in 2004, Sharona founded Torat Reva Yerushalayim, a non profit organization based in Jerusalem which provides Torah study groups for students of all ages and backgrounds.
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