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   by Jacob Solomon

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PARSHAT BEREISHIT 5771: D'VAR TORAH


THE FALL OF MAN: 'The sons of G-d saw that the daughters of Mankind were indeed good. They took for themselves women according to their own choice. And G-d said: 'No longer shall My spirit struggle to tolerate Mankind, even though he is flesh… his years shall be (only) one hundred and twenty years' (6:2-3).

The commentaries are divided on the meaning of: 'His years shall be one hundred and twenty'. According to Ibn Ezra, Man's lifespan will be eventually reduced to a maximum of one hundred and twenty years. Rashi takes the view that G-d had already decided that He would destroy Mankind in a hundred and twenty year's time through the Flood, unless repentance took place.

However, the reasons for the Creator's grim disapproval of 'the sons of G-d' seem a little difficult to understand. The 'sons of G-d' - meaning the judges of that time (Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Ramban; c.f Ex. 22:27) seemed to act the way normal people generally do. As Man is indeed 'flesh' (6:3), he goes the 'way of all flesh'. He chooses the woman - or women - that he would like to make the mother(s) of his future children. Moreover, He should have been pleased with Mankind, not distressed. For one of the Seven Noachite Laws is to establish courts to enforce justice in society.

But those in responsible positions are there to serve society, not to become the basis of abuse of society. The 'sons of men' did not become known for dispensing justice, but for placing their interest in indeed 'taking for themselves women according to their own choice'. That is how they are described in the text: 'they took for themselves women according to their own choice'. It might even be put more strongly - they sought to become the pillars of society chiefly for access to the women of their desires. They did not know how to distinguish duty and service on one hand, and pleasure on the other.

That explains G-d's disappointment. Man was created in the 'image of G-d' (1:27). The Torah explains the epitome of what that means: 'You shall go in His ways' (Deut. 25:9). As Rashi (to Deut. 11:22) explains: 'As He is merciful, so should you be merciful. As He does acts of kindness, so you should do acts of kindness'. In other words, giving, giving, giving… Not taking, taking, taking… Not taking positions of public service with the main motive of: 'What can I get out of it? What is there in it for me?'

As indeed here. That created G-d's sadness towards Man. He gave him the scope of 'walking in his ways' in creating a just society, with common decency. In actually becoming the 'sons of G-d' in working towards perfecting His Creation. And those at the top of the human pyramid turned that very scope into serving their own animal 'flesh' instincts… at the expense of building and perpetuating a just society. And because they were described in the next few lines as men of huge proportions and prestige, society was helpless to do anything about them…

And eventually social justice broke down. 'The Earth was corrupt before G-d, and the land was filled with robbery' (6:11). As Rashi explains - the judgment of annihilation by the Flood was sealed because unbridled robbery had become the way of life.

For those looking for more comprehensive material, questions and answers on the Parasha may be found at http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/questions/ and on the material on the Haftara at http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/haftara/ .

Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: jacobsol@netvision.net.il for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.

Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site: http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/archives/archives.htm

Also by Jacob Solomon:
From the Prophets on the Haftara

Test Yourself - Questions and Answers

e-mail: jacobsol@netvision.net.il

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