by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS NOACH 5770 BS"D
Ch. 6, v. 9: "Noach ish tzadik tomim hoyoh b'dorosov" - Noach was a man completely righteous in his generations - What is the intention of "in his generationS? In Breishis 5:28 it is recorded that Noach's father Lemech was 82 years old at the time of Noach's birth. All around him Noach saw people meriting to have children and at the age of close to 500 years he still had none. During that time generations came and passed on, and no child for Noach in sight. Nevertheless, Noach accepted Hashem's decree without complaint. (This was actually to his benefit, as had he had children over the age of 100 they would have perished in the great deluge.) This is the meaning of Noach's being a completely righteous person, as he accepted Hashem's decree with equanimity, and did so "b'dorosov," during numerous generationS in which he lived. (Rabbi Y.Z. Pollack)
Ch. 6, v. 9: "Noach ish tzadik tomim hoyoh b'dorosov es hoElokim his'ha'leich Noach" - Noach was a man completely righteous in his generations with Elokim Noach brought himself to go - During the antediluvian years of Noach the generations were fraught with the sins of theft, immorality, and idol worship. Our verse therefore enumerates the attributes of Noach that stood in contradistinction to the prevalent wrongdoings. Tzadik is one who does not steal. Tomim is one who is circumcised, bringing one to be circumspect about immorality. "Es hoElokim his'ha'leich Noach" means that he only deified Hashem and none other. (Kli Yokor)
Ch. 6, v. 9: "Ish tzadik" - A righteous man - We can understand these words to mean two points, an ish and a tzadik. One can be righteous in his acts but still not behave like a mensch. Our verse therefore points out that Noach was both a mensch and a righteous person. Better said, if one is not a mensch his righteousness is on a very weak footing. (n.l.)
Ch. 6, v. 10: "Va'yoled Noach shloshoh vonim" - and Noach sired three sons - This information has been told to us near the end of parshas Breishis (5:32). Nevertheless, our verse repeats this after telling us that Noach walked in the path of Elokim to teach us that not only he did so, but he also taught his sons his values. (Radak)
Ch. 6, v. 10: "Es Sheim es Chom v'es Yo'fes" - The word "es" appears here three times. We know that the word "es" connotes inclusion, meaning that Noach was credited with the birth of others besides his three sons. Tosfos Hasholeim says that he taught some of his relatives the belief in Hashem, and is therefore considered their father. Nevertheless, they had insufficient merits to survive the great deluge. Their merit did save them from suffering the death throes of the mabul, and they died a natural death beforehand, a fulfillment of "mipnei horo'oh ne'esof hatzadik."
Ch. 6, v. 11: "Vatishocheis ho'oretz lifnei hoElokim" - And the earth became decayed in front of Elokim - The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh asks why this verse is necessary, as all its information is recorded in the end of parshas Breishis. He answers that even though a person creates protective angels through his good actions and destructive angels through his sins (Pirkei Ovos 4:11), nevertheless, Hashem does not normally allow the destructive forces to carry out their mission without first sitting in judgment. Often merits can stave off the powers of these destructive angels. Here the moral decay of the generation reached to such a great level that the ruling that the generation should be totally wiped out, i.e. the destructive angels created by the evil acts of the people should go ahead with their work, was allowed even before there was a celestial sitting and judgment. This is "vatishocheis ho'oretz lifnei hoElokim," even before Elokim of strict judgment would rule on this. This information was not conveyed in the earlier verse.
Ch. 6, v. 11: "Vatishocheis ho'oretz lifnei hoElokim" - And the earth became decayed in front of Elokim - The sins were perpetrated so often and by everyone to the point that no one considered the wrongdoing as sins. The behaviour was viewed as moral decay only in front of Elokim. (Oznayim laTorah)
Unfortunately, we see this again today. People who consider what we call proper moral behaviour as the right way to behave are looked upon askance at best, Hashem y'racheim.
According to the M.R. on parshas Acharei 23:9 the wrongdoing was carried even further. Rav Huna in the name of Rabbi Yosi said: The generation of the great deluge was destroyed only because its perversion and audacity reached the point that there was no shame and laws were passed that permitted so-called marriage unions certified by licence for a man and a man and also for an animal, bestiality. This is why they were decreed to be totally eradicated.
Akeidas Yitzchok writes that the total destruction of Sdom and its environs was not the result of the behaviour of the residents alone. Such behaviour was unfortunately common in other communities as well. It was because in Sdom this behaviour was not only condoned, but also written into their law books as acceptable. Ha'meivin yovin.
Ch. 6, v. 16: "Tzohar" - A window/An illumination - These are Rashi's two interpretations of "tzohar," either a window or a stone that illuminates. The Admor Rabbi Yisochor Dov of Belz offers that there two explanations are in tandem with the two opinions Rashi cites at the beginning of our parshah, that Noach was a righteous person in his generations, meaning either that had he been in the generation of Avrohom he would have been even greater, or that he would not have been considered significant. In Breishis 19:7 the verse says, "Al tabit acha'recho," the angels told Lote to not peer behind himself when he would escape the destruction of Sdom. Rashi comments that Lote was somewhat guilty for moving to such a decadent community and it was only in the merit of his uncle Avrohom that he would be saved. He therefore did not deserve to see Hashem's retribution on the evil people. Early commentators write that this is only true when one is saved in the merit of another, but when one has sufficient merits of his own to be saved, he may look upon the punishment meted out to the wicked. If so, based on the opinion that Noach was totally righteous even if he would have lived in Avrohom's generation, he had sufficient merits to see the punishment meted out to the sinners, and a window is appropriate. According to the other opinion, that he was a limited tzadik, his being saved was not totally in his own merit, and there should be no window to see the punishment, hence an illuminating stone.
Possibly, Rashi's two explanations might be tied in with the two opinions at the end of parshas Breishis on the words, "V'Noach motzo chein b'einei Hashem." Targum Yonoson ben Uziel says that he found favour in that he had insufficient merits to be saved, while the Sforno says that he had sufficient merits to be saved, but there were insufficient merits to save the rest of his family. However, this is a weak explanation, as there would be no place for a window even if Noach had the moral right to see the destruction, since his family members did not. This same question can be raised on the insight of the Admor of Belz according to either the Targum Yonoson ben Uziel or the Sforno.
Ch. 6, v. 16,17: "Taa'sehoh, Vaani" - You shall make it, And I - The Baal Haturim says that the juxtaposition of the last word of verse 16 to the first word of verse 17 teaches us that Noach on his own was incapable of building the ark. It was only with Hashem's involvement as well that it was built.
Alternatively, based on the words of the Ramban, that even if Noach built ten such arks they would have been insufficient to house all the creatures and their food, and it an overt miracle, we might say that "Vaani," and Hashem's involvement in building the ark was that He provided the miracle of its housing all that had to fit into it. (n.l.)
Ch. 9, v. 21: "Va'yeisht min hayayin va'yishkor" - And he drank from the wine and he became drunk - The Shibolei Ho'leket cites Rabbeinu Yitzchok b"r Yehudoh who says that he found written that the reason we say "savri" before we drink wine is because wine brought about major devastation in this incident with Noach. Canaan and all further generations were cursed. We therefore say "savri," meaning "what is your opinion," i.e. be aware that wine brought misery to the world and we are about to embark upon its consumption. Let us heed our drinking and make sure that it will bring positive results rather than what happened with Noach. This is why the others respond with 'l'chaim," that the drinking bring life and not the opposite. The Abudrohom on evening prayers of Shabbos writes that he heard that the reason for this is that the gemara Brochos 40a says that the tree from which Odom ate the forbidden fruit was a grape vine. Death for all of mankind was decreed as a result of his behaviour. It is for this reason that we say "savri," asking those assembled if they agree that the wine be drunk, and that it would bring to positive results. This is why people respond with "l'chaim," that the drinking bring to life and not the opposite ch"v.
This explanation would seem to apply more to eating grapes than drinking wine, and no one says "savri" before eating grapes.
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