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Vol. 17 No. 2
Leah Baila bas Aryeh Leib z"l
Why Did No'ach Not Daven
For His Generation
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)
The question arises why No'ach did not Daven for the generation, like Avraham Davened for S'dom the moment G-d informed him of his intention of destroying it? Indeed, R. Bachye points out, it was the custom of all the leaders and of the prophets to Daven for the well-being of the people of their generation.
He would most certainly have done so, the author concludes, had it not been for the fact that there were not ten righteous people in the world at the time (as we know from the fact that only eight people including No'ach himself, ended up in the boat). And No'ach knew that the world at large could only be saved on the merits of ten people, no less. And so it would have to suffice that he and his immediate family would be saved from the flood and the world would have to perish.
This answer is problematic however, in that from Avraham's prayer on behalf of S'dom, it is evident that he did not know how many Tzadikim there were in S'dom (who can tell what lies in a person's heart, even a Rasha's). And if Avraham did not know for sure that there were not ten Tzadikim in S'dom, how could No'ach possibly be so certain that there were not ten Tzadikim in the whole world?
Initially, it therefore seems whereas Avraham Davened for S'dom, since he was only informed of G-d's plans to destroy them at the last moment, and there was nothing else that he could really do, No'ach on the other hand, had been informed of G-d's plans to destroy the world, a hundred and twenty years in advance, and what's more, the lengthy process of constructing the boat was in itself, a warning to the people to desist from their ways, as R. Bachye himself writes (see next Pearl), in which case Tefilah was not necessary.
This answer is inadequate however, inasmuch as if Davenning was uncalled for throughout the time that he was building his boat, why did No'ach not do so at the end? When he saw that the people did not respond to the ongoing warning, and that the Flood was imminent, why did he not Daven then?
Perhaps he thought that, having been given the opportunity to repent (something that the people of S'dom were not), and squandered it, they did not deserve to be saved.
In any event, R. Bachye seems to follow the opinion cited by Rashi that No'ach was comparable to Avraham in his Tzidkus. According to the opinion that considers him a great Tzadik only in his generation, but not when compared to Avraham, perhaps we can say that he did not Daven for his generation like Avraham did for S'dom, because he was simply not on the level of Avraham. And this is borne out by the Seforno. The Seforno writes at the end of Parshas Bereishis … that No'ach did not save his family from destruction due to his merits, but because he found favour in the eyes of G-d, as the Pasuk relates. Then, based on a Pasuk in Yechezkel, he cites three righteous men who only managed to save themselves but not their generations - No'ach, Daniel and Iyov. And this is due to the fact that they did not teach the people the knowledge of G-d and to go in his ways. And he contrasts them with Avraham, Moshe and Shmuel, who did. And regarding No'ach, he explains, he may well have rebuked the people of his time for their uncivilized behaviour, but he did not teach them the ways of G-d, as we explained. Yes, he concludes, when it came to his own understanding of G-d, No'ach was an absolute Tzadik, which explains why he was saved from the Flood. But he did nothing to teach others about the things in which he excelled, and that was why he did not merit that others were saved on account of him. And the reason for this, he concludes, is because seeing as he would do nothing to bring them to do Teshuvah, there was no point in saving them together with him.
And by the same token, it would hardly be surprising for him not to Daven on their behalf, either!
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(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)
The Great Sin
"And G-d (Elokim) saw the land, and behold it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted (hishchis kol bosor) its way … " (6:12).
The use of the Name of "Elokim", says R. Bachye, suggests that the Midas ha'Din was taking stock of their deeds, and that severe punishment was imminent. And what sin did they perpetrate that brought this about?
The term "hishchis kol bosor" indicates that they were guilty of destroying their seed, one of the worst sins possible - yet it was a sin that was rampantly perpetrated, and of which they were all guilty. And because they destroyed human seed, which would have taken forty days to form a baby, the author explains, that is why it rained for forty days, until they were all destroyed.
Alternatively, R. Bachye writes, the people were guilty of four sins, the three cardinal sins and robbery. And the reason for the forty days is because both adultery and idolatry are connected to the number forty as I just explained - adultery (as it is directly connected with the Hashchasas Zera that we just discussed); murder, because they killed people who were formed in forty days; and idolatry, because they would worship the sun on a thirty-day cycle connected with the Mazalos, and the sun would begin to shine on the Mazel five days before it arrived and five days after it left, a total of forty days.
The Pasuk has taught us that they sinned both with regard to 'bein Adam le'Makom' and in 'Bein Adam la'Chavero'. Yet their fate was sealed, the Torah informs us, due to Chamas, which is bein ha'Adam la'Chavero. We see from here that Hashem is more concerned about sins that are 'bein Adam la'Chaveiro', as the Nevi'im constantly stress.
The question remains however, as to why G-d picked out spefically robbery, and not murder, which is 'bein Adam la'Chaveiro' too.
R. Bachye explains that what makes robbery worse than most other sins, even the three cardinal sins (which, by virtue of the severity of their punishment, are intrinsically more stringent), is the fact that it is self-understood that it is wrong. That is to say that even if the Torah had not been given, everyone understands that Reuven does not simply help himself to something that belongs to Shimon.
At first glance, the question does not seem to be answered, since everybody also understands that it is wrong to take somebody else's life, so the question remains, why was it robbery, and not murder, that served as the last straw?
Perhaps our premise is not correct. Perhaps were it not for the Torah, one might have thought that if Shimon constantly angers Reuven, causes him financial loss or threatens to harm him bodily, Shimon is permitted to kill him to safeguard his property, his dignity and his health. Not so robbing him, where the circumstances that might permit it are rare.
Creation & Divine Providence
R. Bachye explains that the episode of the Great Flood teaches us that the world was created and that the Creator supervises it, we learn from it how G-d destroys the wicked from the world, and spares the righteous. For just as Adam was the head of all the creations in his time, so was No'ach the head of the creations in his; and just as Adam had three sons (Kayin, Hevel and Sheis), so too, did No'ach have three sons (Shem, Chom and Yofes). Moreover, two of No'ach's sons, like two of Adam's sons were 'important', and the third one, cursed, and just like one of Adam's sons (Sheis) was superior and from him the world descended, so too, one of No'ach's (Sheim). And that superiority manifested itself inasmuch as it is only the descendants of Shem who will merit Techiyas ha'Meisim (as we explained in Parshas ve'Zos ha'B'rachah vol. 16)
The Demons Were Saved Too
"And from all the living from all flesh … you shall bring to the boat … " (6:19).
Rashi, citing the Medrash, comments that this comes to include Sheidim (the demons). In other words, two Sheidim were allowed on the Boat, too.
R. Bachye too cites the Chazal, but then explains that they actually learn it from Pasuk 17. where the Torah writes that the Flood will "destroy all the flesh that has a living soul", incorporating all living creatures on the earth, and then adds "from under the Heaven" to include the demons.
It was necessary to bring them into the boat, since the water would have destroyed them too, just as it destroyed the birds that flew in the air.
On the other hand, he explains, the expression "you shall bring" does not refer to the demons (presumably because Demons are basically invisible, and No'ach would hardly have been able to collect them) but rather the expression in Pasuk 20 "they shall come to you" (of their own accord).
No'ach Did Everything He Was Told
"And No'ach did everything that G-d commanded him so he did" (17:22).
The last phrase "so he did" is redundant.That is why R. Bachye explains that the basic Pasuk teaches us that No'ach did everything connected with the boat itself, , whereas "so he did" comes to add that he also arranged all the animals either in pairs or in sevens (as the Pasuk teaches us) and what's more, he also brought food according to the needs of each and every species, as Chazal have taught, he stored branches for the elephants and glass for the ostriches. It is unclear how Chazal learn all this from the words "so he did". Perhaps they learn the animals from the word "everything", and the food from "so he did".
In any event, if, as the Ramban points out, the fact that the one Boat was able to contain all the animals that it did was a miracle in itself, that No'ach was then able to fit in the food for all of them increases the miracle manifold.
(See also Parshah Pearls, vol. 14 'When we do ours, G-d does His').
A Merciful G-d (1)
"On this day all the fountains of the great deep were split and the fountains of the Heaven were opened" (7:11).
It would have been more correct to reverse the order, and to write "On this day the fountains of the Heaven were opened and the fountains of the great deep were split". And the reason that it did not, says R. Bachye, is because the Heavens are generally a source of blessing (as we find in 'Vayechi' (49:28) and in ve'Zos ha'Brachah (33:19). And since here, the Torah is speaking with reference to a curse, it did not want to mention the Heaven first.
And it is for the same reason that the Torah does not mention G-d's Name here (to write "And G-d brought a flood on the land … "), because it always avoids mentioning His Name with regard to punishment. And by the same token, it writes (in Pasuk 23) "And He blotted out all existence", without actually mentioning G-d's Name. This is because the Pasuk in Mishlei writes "Its ways are pleasant ways, and all its paths are peace!"
Nor should this be construed, Chas ve'Shalom, as some kind of flattery, seeing as it is not G-d who is responsible for punishments, but man!
When it comes to things connected with mercy and salvation however, the Torah makes a point of inserting G-d's Name directly. That is why the Torah writes here (7:16) "And G-d closed the door behind him", and later in the Parshah (8:1) "And G-d passed a wind across the earth, and the water subsided". Indeed it does, for G-d is the ultimate source of all good!
The same distinction appears in Parshas Bereishis. When G-d cursed Adam and Chavah, the Torah writes "And to the woman He said", and "And to Adam He said"; whereas when, after the sin, He helped them alleviate their shame, it writes "And G-d made for Adam and his wife shirts of leather and He dressed them".
A Merciful G-d (2)
And it is the same Midah of Mercy that prompted G-d to do two things. Firstly, the Flood began in the form of rain, in the hope that the people would wake up and do Teshuvah; and only when they failed to respond, did He turn it into a flood (as Rashi explains in Pasuk 12). Secondly, to destroy first the animals, and only then, the people.
R. Schaval in his footnotes, citing the Toras Chayim, queries the author from the Gemara in B'rachos, which, commenting on a Pasuk in Tehilim, explains that G-d created man last of the creations, but first for punishment, as the Pasuk writes in this Parshah (7:24) "And He blotted out all existence … from man to animals … ". The Pesikta too, makes the same comment, based on the Pasuk in Bereishis (6:7) "I will blot out the man that I created … from man until animals … ".
And he answers by confining the latter D'rashah to the decree, which was issued primarily on account of the sins of the people; whereas R. Bachye is referring to the actual punishment. And it was there, that G-d in His infinite mercy, switched the order, to punish the animals first and then the people.
It seems to me however, that although this answer goes well with the Pesikta, which quotes the Pasuk in Bereishis (in connection with the issuing of the decree), it is difficult to apply it according to the Gemara in B'rachos, which quotes the Pasuk in No'ach (in connection with the punishment).
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HIGHLIGHTS FROM ...
... TARGUM YONASAN
' … he sent the homing-pigeon away from him to see whether the water had subsided … ' (8"8).
'As long as the earth exists, seeding in the season of Tishri, harvesting in that of Nisan, cold in the season of Teives and heat in that of Tamuz, summer and winter, day and night will never cease" (8:22).
' … when Nimrod cast Avram into the fiery furnace for not bowing down to his idols, and the fire was not granted permission to burn him, Haran (his brother) was (initially) in two minds, saying, "If Nimrod prevails, then I will side with him, whereas if Avram survives, then I will side with him!' When all the people present saw that the fire did not affect Avram, they thought to themselves that it must have been Haran his brother, who was teeming with magic and sorcery, who whispered to the fire not to burn his brother. Immediately, a fire 'fell from upper Heavens' and consumed him; and Haran died in front of Terach his father … ' (11:28).
... THE BA'AL HA'TURIM
"He was (hoyoh) Tamim (perfect) in his generations" (6:9).
The Gematriyah of "hoyoh", the Ba'al ha'Turim points out, is twenty. This is because No'ach was considered 'Tamim' compared to the twenty generations between Adam and Avraham; but once Avraham appeared on scene, he was no longer considered 'Tamim'.
" … and the land was filled with robbery" (6:11).
The same expression is used in Parshas Sh'mos (1:7) "and the land was filled with them". The Ba'al ha'Turim refers to the Medrash that when the women gave birth in Egypt, they would go out to the fields, where they gave birth to six children at a time, and when the Egyptians came to kill them, G-d performed a miracle and they sunk into the ground. Here too, he explains the robbery took place under the ground's surface - John would deposit with Jim Afarsemon (a powerful smelling spice), which the latter would place in his purse and hide underground. Then, in the middle of the night, John would sniff out the location of Jim's purse and steal it.
"And G-d said to No'ach 'The end (keitz) of all flesh has come before Me … ' " (6:13).
The word "keitz", says the Ba'al ha'Turim, hints at the hundred and ninety days that the flood actually lasted - forty days of actual flooding, and a hundred and fifty during which the water rose under its own steam.
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AND THEIR MEANING
(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)
Please bear in mind that the rulings in this article
reflect the opinion of the Seifer ha'Chinuch
and are not necessarily Halachah.
To Annihilate the Seven Nations
It is a Mitzvah to kill the seven nations (the Cana'ani, the Emori … ) who established themselves on our land before we captured it from them, and to destroy them from wherever we find them, as the Torah writes in Va'eschanan (7:2) "Hacharem tacharim osam … ". And the Mitzvah is repeated in Parshas Shoftim (20:17), where the Torah writes "For you shall surely destroy them, the Cana'ani, the Emori … ".
A reason for the Mitzvah is because these seven nations are the ones who began to perform all sorts of idolatry and sacrifices, and abominations which G-d so hates. That is why, seeing as they constitute the main source of Avodah-Zarah and its initial foundation, we have been commanded to wipe them out and to destroy them from under the Heaven, that no memory of them should remain in the land of the living. And this Mitzvah of destroying them is to our advantage, inasmuch as when we destroy their remembrance from the world, we will no longer be tempted to learn from their deeds. In addition, it will teach us not to stray after idolatry, because, having chased after each member of the evil family, to kill them for having indulged in Avodah-Zarah, it will not enter anybody's mind to emulate them under any circumstances. Why, you may ask, were these evil nations created in the first place, seeing as they stand to be eliminated from the world?
The answer lies in the commonly-known fact that each and every person has choice to do either good or bad, and that G-d does not force anyone to go in a specific direction. That being the case, we can answer that these seven nations degenerated into Resha'im by their own choice, until they reached a stage where each and every one of them became worthy of destruction and death, whereas at the beginning of their nationhood, they were equally capable of doing good and becoming righteous. And we can rely on the same answer to explain the Mitzvah of wiping out Amalek at the end of the Parshah of Ki Seitzei. Alternatively, we could answer that there was a time in history when these nations had a period of 'Kashrus', and it is because of that period, short as it may have been, that they merited to be created. Or it is possible that there emerged from them even just one refined person, and it is for his sake that they were created. And we have a precedent for this in the Gemara in Avodah-Zarah (10b) which refers to a wise man who was a descendant from Amalek, by the name of Antoninus. And it is not beyond G-d to create many people for the sake of just one.
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