It must have been a startling conversation. God tells Noach the world must be destroyed. The evil of man had become so unbearable and dramatic action was necessary. Noach was tasked by God to build the ark and rebuild humanity in the aftermath of the flood. Noach was to become the new father of mankind, a second Adam. But Noach’s responsibility was not only for mankind; he was to serve as the caretaker of the animal kingdom as well.
“And the Lord said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, for it is you that I have seen as a righteous man before Me in this generation. Of all the clean animals you shall take for yourself seven pairs, a male and its mate, and of the animals that are not clean, two, a male and its mate. Also, of the fowl of the heavens, seven pairs, male and female, to keep seed alive on the face of the earth (Bereishis 7:1-3).”
God commands Noach to gather up the animals and prepare the ark with all the necessary provisions to sustain them for the duration of the flood. Yet, something very interesting occurs:
“And Noah went in and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him into the ark because of the flood waters. Of the clean beasts and of the beasts that are not clean, and of the fowl, and all that creeps upon the earth. Two by two they came to Noah to the ark, male and female, as God had commanded Noahc(Bereishis 7:7-9).”
It appears that the animals came to Noach; he didn’t have to collect them after all. God told Noach to “take for yourself” and then “two by two they came to Noah to the ark ….” What changed? Why did the animals suddenly come to Noach?
The Lubavitcher Rebbe (Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, 1902-1994) explains, “A Jew is tasked with fulfilling his mission (shlichus) and should not worry regarding other details. For once he undertakes to fulfill his mission, the other pieces will fall into place.”
Can you imagine what Noach thought when God told him to collect of the animals for the ark? Really?! How am I supposed to track down every different type of species and get them onto this boat? How can God possibly task me with this impossible endeavor? Yet, Noach begins the task by building the ark and amazingly enough, when it is complete the animals come to him. When you have a mission and a destiny, sometimes you just have to start down the road of accomplishment and actualization and believe that God will help you cross the finish line. God never really intended for Noach to run after all the animals. He wanted to see Noach’s reaction to the Divine task. There are times when we are asked to do something beyond our present reach and ability. We say to ourselves, “Why even bother? There is no way I can be successful. What is point of trying if there is no probability of success?” But we must learn to think differently. We must say to ourselves, “It would appear that the shlichus, the mission is way too difficult; let me start, I will do what I can, and I believe that God will pick up the slack. I believe that if God wants this to happen He will extend His hand to me to help me reach my intended destination.”
This was message that God conveyed to Noach and a message which Noach clearly understood. When your mission in life looks impossible – just get started, just take a step and believe that God will help. You may have no idea how to possibly gather all the animals, you may be overwhelmed at the prospect of gathering the various pieces which ensure life success; just begin to build your ark, just begin to build and the results will ultimately materialize.