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OCTOBER 11-12, 2002 6 HESHVAN 5763

Pop Quiz: Who died one week before the flood began?


"The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth" (Beresheet 9:2)

After Noah left the Ark and walked in a new, post-flood world, Hashem blessed him and his sons. First, He blessed them that they will be fruitful and multiply and fill the land. Secondly, He blessed them that the wild beasts will fear man. The Abrabanel explains that Hashem wanted to take away the fear Noah had of the hoards of animals who might destroy the small remnant of mankind. It is explained in the Zohar that man, in his ideal state, has the image of G-d upon him, and that would be enough to frighten animals away. An animal senses that man is a higher order of life and would not consider attacking him. Due to the downfall of the generation of the flood, man lost some of that aura. Now Hashem bestowed this blessing. However, it is incumbent on man to maintain this level. If not, man would appear to the animals as just another two-legged animal.

Rabbi Shalom Schwadron tells a true story. The mother of Rabbi Asher Zimmerman, when she was a young mother with little children, felt she needed extra protection. She lived in America and her husband used to travel a lot on business, leaving her alone quite often. In order to add to her security they brought home a watchdog and placed the dog near the front door, which was made of glass. Anytime a stranger would approach the door, the dog would greet him with a great barking welcome. However, on occasion, the family was honored with a special guest. Rabbi Elchanan Wasserman would stay by them whenever he was on a fund-raising trip for his yeshivah. Whenever the great Rabbi came, the dog would whimper away and hide.

Obviously, the Rabbi had a great fear of Hashem, and as the Zohar stated, one with great fear of Hashem has a clear image of Hashem on him. Likewise, it is told that Rabbi Y. Levenstein used to walk a path to the Mirrer Yeshivah (in Europe) that everyone was afraid to walk. That path contained two vicious dogs, but they would be like little puppies when the Rabbi walked by. Eventually, many students used to hold onto his coattails and walk that path.

Let's work on our own image, and I don't mean it in the political or social sense. Let's work on our image of G-d. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"And from the animals that are not pure..." (Beresheet 7:2)

Noah was commanded to take from each specie seven pairs of animals which are kosher and one pair of animals which are not kosher, and bring them into the ark. The Torah calls the kosher animals "tahor" - pure - and the non-kosher ones are called "asher lo tahor" - those that are not pure. The Rabbis point out that the proper word to use when describing the unacceptable animals is "tameh" - unclean, and yet the Torah uses the longer phrase "asher lo tahor" - which is not pure. This is to teach us the importance of not using negative words when talking about someone or something. The Gemara tells us that once three Kohanim were describing what kind of a portion each one received and one of them used a negative word to describe his share. They checked up after him and saw that there was something wrong with his lineage.

The lesson is very simple yet extremely important. The way we speak says so much about ourselves. Not only what we say, but the kind of words we use reflect on our character and on our spirit. We should always try to use words of purity and beauty and stay away from vulgarities and the like. It is especially difficult in today's day and age, when the sharper the word, the more recognition one gets. But it is much more meaningful if we put some thought into the choice of words we use. If the Torah, in which every letter counts, saw fit to add extra words in order to speak in a positive way, shouldn't we do the same? Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"And the land was corrupt before Hashem" (Beresheet 6:11)

Rashi comments that the ultimate verdict for the destruction of that generation was based upon the people's stealing. The Ozorever Rebbe explains that the arrogance demonstrated by the manner of this stealing signified a decadence so sinister that repentance for this sin was highly unlikely. Their form of stealing was unique in that it was not biblically prohibited, since the people were careful to steal less than the value of a "perutah" (which is the criterion for establishing an act of stealing). They obviously derived no benefit from such an insignificant theft. They stole for the pure sake of stealing; they sinned for the thrill of sinning. They seemed to be noble and dignified people who diligently researched the law, seeking loopholes to enable them to accomplish their immoral acts within a legal framework.

Such an attitude could never lead to repentance. What did they do wrong? They were able to find the proverbial "heter, permission," for their crime. The Ozorever Rebbe interprets the pasuk in the following manner: "And the earth was corrupt before Hashem," but Hashem is aware of an individual's true intentions. It was the fact that they sought ways to legally steal (with permission) that sealed their destruction. One who sins "only" before Hashem will be punished before man. (Peninim on the Torah)


The perashah starts with great praise for Noah, describing him as "a righteous man, perfect in his generations." Later in the perashah, after the flood, the pasuk says, "only Noah survived" (7:23). Why isn't he described here with all the titles that the Torah had previously given him? The Zohar says that Noah was at fault for not praying for his generation to be saved. Instead, he was only concerned that his own family should be saved. Therefore, in the final analysis, he was "only Noah," stripped of the praises he had received earlier.

Question: Have you ever prayed for the welfare of another person in a situation where you personally had nothing to gain by it? Can you think of anyone who could use your prayers right now? Someone who is trying to have children, struggling in business, suffering from an illness? What other problems can you pray for someone to be saved from?

Answer to pop quiz: Metushelah. Hashem delayed the flood for the seven days of mourning for him.

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