by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS NOACH 5767 BS"DCh. 6, v. 14: "A'sei l'cho teivas" - Make for yourself an ark of - See Rashi, who explains why Hashem told Noach to save himself specifically through building a ship. Rabbi Chaim of Tchernovitz answers this based upon the gemara Sotoh 8b, which says that a person is dealt with in kind, a measure for measure response. For example, if a person pursues a mitzvoh only when it is convenient and/or in keeping with his nature, but when it is difficult, a rainy, cold day, or the like, he doesn't bother, Hashem acts towards him in kind. When there is an abundant flow of kindness to a community, city, country, he too will be a beneficiary. If however, the masses deserve no such kindness, Hashem will not "go out of His way" to bestow kindness upon this person. If there is no rain for a whole area, for example, he will not receive rain on his crops that are in the same area.
Verse nine says, "es hoElokim his'ha'leich Noach." "Elokim" has the same numerical value as "ha'teva," the nature (see responsa Chacham Zvi #18). Noach's relationship with Hashem was limited to only serving Him within nature, but not on a super-human level. Therefore, Hashem responded in kind, and would not save Noach in a miraculous manner. This necessitated the building of a sea-worthy vessel.
Ch. 7, v. 7: "Mipnei mei hamabul" - In the face of the flood waters - Rashi says that Noach was limited and ambiguous in his belief, not really sure that the flood waters would come, and he only entered the ark when the waters pressed him to enter. This surely requires clarification, as the Torah unambiguously gives him the appellation of "tzadik" (6:9 and 7:1).
The gemara Taanis 21b relates that there was a plague in Sura, but it did not effect the area where Rav resided. It was assumed that this was in the merit of Rav, but it was heavenly communicated that it was not in the merit of Rav, but rather, in the merit of a righteous woman who also resided there. This is explained by the Nezer Hakodesh. We have a rule that once permission is given to the destroying angel to do his work, he does not differentiate between a virtuous and not virtuous person. He carpet bombs. This is only so when the righteous person is not a total "tzadik." Since he has some shortcomings, but does not deserve to die. Because he is not totally virtuous he cannot have an overt miracle save him. Therefore he is saved in a communal manner, with others as well. This is a somewhat covert miracle. However, a totally righteous person deserves to be saved even in an overtly miraculous manner. Originally it was thought that Rav was great, but not so great to deserve an overt miracle, and in turn the populace in his area was spared. In truth, Rav deserved even an overt miracle, and it was the merit of a righteous woman that also saved those residing in the area.
Kovetz Drushim 2:1:23 applies this concept to Rashi. Noach was only told that he was a "tzadik" in 7:1. He therefore thought that although he was righteous, he was not totally so, and in turn his merit would save the world from being totally destroyed, i.e. no "mabul." In truth he was a "tzadik tomim," as the Torah states in the first verse of our parsha. He therefore would only save himself and his immediate family, but not the wider population.
Ch. 9, v. 5: "Dimchem" - Your blood - Rashi says that one is liable even for committing suicide. Responsa B'somim Rosh #345 writes that this is only so when the person has a normal life and is simply tired of living or the like, but a person who is constantly suffering and commits suicide is not held liable in the world-to-come. Sefer Har Eivol (section "hesped ukvuroh" page 18b) swears that the B'somim Rosh never wrote these words.
Ch. 9, v. 13: "Beini u'vein ho'oretz" - Between Me and between the land - Between Me and the generation that is drawn to "artzius," earthiness. (Minchoh V'luloh)
Ch. 9, v. 16: "Bein Elokim u'vein kol nefesh chayoh b'chol bossor" - Between Elokim and between any living soul of any flesh - These seemingly redundant words teach us that if there is not even one virtuous person on the face of the earth to stave off total annihilation, nevertheless, in the merit of animals the rainbow will still appear and there will be no total destruction. (Minchoh V'luloh)
Ch. 9, v. 17: "Va'yomer Elokim el Noach zose ose habris" - And Elokim said to Noach "This is a sign of the covenant - This is the third statement to Noach about the same point ("Va'yomer Elokim" in verse 8 and verse 12). The same idea was told to Noach three times to strengthen his broken heart and to guarantee him that there would be no such repetition in the future. He witnessed the destruction of his world and needed great support to rebuild. (Rada"k)
Ch. 10, v. 9: "Hu hoyoh gibor tzayid lifnei Hashem" - He was a courageous trapper in front of Hashem - Rashi explains that Nimrod was a wily evil person. He would trap people with his misleading words of theological advice. His name Nimrod alludes to rebellion. He taught people to rebel against Hashem's authority. On the other hand, the Ibn Ezra says that Nimrod trapped animals and brought them as sacrifices for Hashem. The Ramban says that the Ibn Ezra has painted an evil person as righteous.
The Lasker Rov in Ohr Dovid finds common ground between the Ibn Ezra and the Ramban. We find the term "tzayid" by Eisov as well. This is interpreted to mean that he trapped his father Yitzchok, fooling him into believing that Eisov was a "tzadik'l." Similarly, Nimrod indeed brought sacrifices, overtly claiming that they were for the honour of Hashem. However, in his heart he intended that they were for avodoh zoroh. This is found in the words of our verse. M.R. Bmidbar 23:9 says that when Eliyohu had his standoff with those who served the idol baal, the animal he was about to offer to Hashem came along willingly, even though it knew it was to be slaughtered, because it was being offered to Hashem. However, the animal that was to be slaughtered for baal dragged its legs, not wanting to be an offering for avodoh zoroh. Eliyohu told this animal to go willingly because through it the Name of Heaven would also be exalted. Nimrod overtly said that he was offering a sacrifice for Hashem. If so, why did he have to trap it, "gibor tzayid"? It should have run to him to be used as an offering to Hashem. This shows that his true intention was to offer it to idol worship.
Ch. 11, v. 3: "Halveinoh l'ovven" - The brick as a stone - Although on a practical building material level bricks are a good substitute for stones, on an halachic plane they are not the same. There is a Torah level prohibition to prostrate oneself on a stone floor, called "evven maskis". The Mo'gein Avrohom on O.Ch. 131:20 says that this prohibition does not apply to a brick floor. The Rambam hilchos avodoh zoroh 6:8 seems to agree. Likewise there are specifications for the structure of a house afflicted with "tzoraas" that is to be razed. One is that it be a stone building. The sefer Chinuch mitzvoh #177 says that if the house is a brick structure it is not razed. He adds that this is actually a Toras Kohanim (breisa d'Rebbi Yishmo'eil piska #6).
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