NOACH  5780
A Diminished Noah
When the Torah describes the effects of the devastating flood that destroyed the world, it adds: “Only [ach] Noah and those with him in the Ark survived.”
Rashi seems to have been “bothered” by an obvious question: Isn’t it self-evident that if the entire world was destroyed and that G‑d provided Noah and his family with an Ark to be saved from the flood, that he survived? Why then was it necessary for the Torah to tell us that only Noah and his family survived the flood?
In anticipation of this question Rashi provides us with an alternate translation: Rather than “Only Noah…” he renders the Hebrew word ach as “diminished.
In other words, although Noah was spared the fate of the rest of humanity, he did not leave the ark unscathed. He ended up groaning and coughing blood; diminished from the tedious work he engaged in.
So the new translation reads: “Noah remained diminished” rather than “Only Noah… survived.”
Rashi then adds that the word ach-diminished alludes to the fact that “he was bitten by a lion for feeding it late.”
Why does Rashi feel compelled to supplement his first statement that he was groaning and coughing blood with a second statement that he was bitten by a lion?
The Rebbe, in a lengthy discourse on this point explains that Rashi felt that if Noah’s diminution was solely the product of his tedious and grueling schedule necessary to care for all the creatures in the Ark, why was Noah the only one who was diminished? Why weren’t his other family members diminished? Weren’t they also involved in the feeding of the animals?
Rashi concludes that Noah’s impairment was caused by being bitten by a lion for delaying its feeding; not merely from the general hardship in feeding all the animals. Since the lion is the “King of the Beasts” (Talmud, Chagigah 13b), it was only fitting for Noah, the most distinguished member of the Ark, to feed it personally. When he was tardy in his special role the lion bit him.
Why the Delay?
Why was Noah late in feeding the lion?
From the way our Sages describe this event, it appears that Noah acted improperly in delaying feeding the lion, for which reason he was bitten by the lion. What was wrong here? After all, Noah had not exactly been idle or negligent in his responsibilities. He was certainly working hard enough feeding the other animals; it does not seem that he deserved the punishment.
Pulling Rank?
One may offer the following explanation:
The Ark housed all species in existence, among them species generally hostile to each other.  Under normal circumstances the predators would have devoured the weaker animals.  In the end, only the most powerful animals would have survived, defeating the reason they had all been brought together on the Ark. It was a huge miracle that they were able to coexist cooped up on the Ark in frightening circumstances.
The miracle was actually a portent and sample of the miracle of the future Messianic Age, when the “Wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together… and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.” (Isaiah 11:6-7).
The Ark experience was a great equalizer, particularly in a time when the rest of humanity - and life in general - was coming to an end, leaving them as the sole survivors.  These factors precluded any of its residents from “pulling rank” by declaring “I am superior to you.” One of the hallmarks of the Messianic Age is that the spirit of brotherhood, unity and peace will prevail throughout the entire world. 
Noah, it seems, felt that there was no reason to treat the lion preferentially. While there was nothing wrong for him to personally feed the lion, Noah thought it would be proper for him to occasionally give precedence to other creatures. After all, in this Messianic bubble all were equal; to demonstrate that equality, Noah thought he would, on this one occasion, feed another species before the lion.
The Lion was Right
The lion, however, “thought” otherwise. Evidently, the lion was right and taught Noah a painful lesson on the true definition of equality and unity.
Peace is one of the highest ideals, if not the very highest, in Judaism. Our Sages tell us that G‑d’s name is Shalom-peace. Our Sages further stated that the very purpose of the giving of the Torah to us was to bring peace to the world. The Mishnah ends with the statement that “there is no greater vessel for blessing than peace.” Our prayers are replete with requests for peace. One could cite hundreds of Biblical, Talmudic, Midrashic and other classical sources that extol the virtues of peace and unity.
Furthermore, while peace is an imperative in every period of history, the Messianic Age will be an age of total peace in all of its manifestations.
In the Messianic Era there will be peace between G‑d and us, between Jews and non-Jews, between the diverse segments and ethnicities within the Jewish people, between humanity and all of G‑d’s other creatures; peace among all of the creatures, peace between husbands and wives and peace between our bodies and our souls.
However true peace does not upend the way the world was structured. We must still respect our parents and our teachers. Moshiach will be our King.  He will command our respect, admiration and obedience. Equality, in Messianic terms means that we will all recognize that we complement each other and that beneath the surface of our identities lies a core of G‑dliness that unites everyone and everything.
Visual Torah
One of the Messianic predictions is that we will no longer have to be taught to know G‑d, for everyone will know Him equally:
“…and they shall teach no more to every man his neighbor, and everyone his brother, saying ‘know G‑d’ for they shall all know Me…” (Jeremiah 31:33)
Even so, there will still be teachers, the foremost of whom shall be Moshiach himself.
How do we reconcile these two ideas? Chassidic thought explains that in the Messianic Age everyone will be visually exposed to G‑dly revelation and knowledge. This phenomenon can be compared to the experience of an intricate piece of art viewed by a group of people in terms of their diverse appreciation and understanding of fine art.
While everyone of that group has been exposed to the same visual event, there will still be myriad levels of comprehension of that shared experience. The great connoisseurs of art will still have to explain to the novices what it is that they witnessed.
On the one hand, Noah was justified in wanting to engender the spirit of equality among the animals in his Ark. However, he was wrong about seeking the total elimination of their natural hierarchical system. Even in the Messianic Age, for which the Ark was a model, there will still be a social order that does not contradict our ability to achieve equality, unity and peace.