But the dove could not find a resting place for its foot, and returned to him to the ark, for there was water over all the earth. So putting out his hand, [Noah] took it into the ark with him. – Gen. 8:9
After 150 days of rain, the waters of the Great Flood start to recede and the ark comes to rest on the mountains of Ararat. Noah sends a dove “to see if the waters were abated from the face of the earth.” The dove returns without vegetation in its beak, indicating that the land is not yet dry. Noah stretches out his hand to the dove to bring it into the ark.
Why does Noah reach out his hand to the bird? Surely it could fly into the ark by itself. Rabbi Kupitz of Manchester (d. 2021) gives a beautiful explanation: Noah feels bad that the dove went on a mission and returned without good news to share.
This small moment provides insight into why Noah is saved when God destroys the rest of the world. Noah is so filled with kindliness that he expresses it to everyone, both humans and non-humans. He is the perfect person to care for a boatload of animals. May we, like Noah, show kindness to all creatures on earth and merit God’s blessing!
Image: Noah Releasing The Dove (detail), 16th century Mosaic