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    Noah’s Ark & the fairy tales – No’ach

    Animals entering Noah's Ark, by Jan Brueghel, 17th century

    So many of the stories in the early parts of the Bible lend themselves to the world of children.

    The animals calmly walking two by two into the Ark are a perfect example. You can imagine the Ark as an ocean liner with a broad gang-plank and, presumably, smartly dressed naval officers leading each animal couple to its cabin, ready for Captain Noah to give the order to set sail.

    We can almost see the animal families on the wharf throwing streamers to the passengers, as used to be the custom when people sailed off to exciting overseas destinations.

    Our mind’s eye can conjure up obedient animals sitting at set places in the ship’s dining rooms, waited upon with three beautifully presented meals every day.

    There might be occasional turbulence but nothing serious, and a few cases of sea sickness whilst the passengers are finding their sea legs.

    The picture becomes more and more interesting, however full of fantasy and lacking in genuineness.

    Actually the story of the animals was never meant as a fairy tale. Apart from its role in history it teaches serious lessons such as the duty to care for one’s animals, the animal (and human) desire for company of one’s own kind, and the need to restore both the human and the animal kingdom after a world crisis.

    Another dimension, touched upon by the Midrash, is how difficult it is for a leader to manage the disparate groups under his charge (the sages say that one day the lions attacked Noah because their food was late).

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