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Parashat Noah

The Light the Dove Brought

Seven pairs of doves stayed at the biggest floating hotel in the world. Together with the swans and the pigeons, the parrots and the pelicans. Together with the eagles and the ducks, the crows and the vultures. With the owls and buzzards, every feathered bird, and every flying insect. All the animals and the beasts, and servants along with them: stewards and waiters - Noah and his sons - to serve food and to clean the apartments. They worked brutally hard labor; they never saw rest. For five months the ark was carried upon the strong currents of the water until it landed on the peak of Mt. Ararat. After ten months of isolation, Noah sent the dove to see if the waters had rested, and it did not find rest for its feet. A week later it was sent again. That evening it returned, with a olive branch in its mouth. "And Noah knew that the water had rested on the land."

It is interesting: the tremendous dedication of Noah and his sons, a year's worth of hard labor without rest - is not even hinted to in the Torah. "The whole twelve months they did not taste sleep, neither Noah nor his sons, since they had to feed the animal and the beast and the birds; there are animals that eat two hours into the night, and there are those that eat three hours into the night. One time Noah delayed in feeding the lion, the lion hit him and his rib came out." (Tanhuma Beresheet 9) There are unlimited morals that one can and must take from this story. About the work ethic, about responsibility and demands. About "the world will be built on kindness," kindness with every creature to the smallest of creatures, and about the completeness of kindness necessary: to give each one its specific food, and at the proper time! The Torah is a educational book, meant to teach morals, and this moral was left for a Midrash. But the sending of the dove, and its return with an olive branch - this was written specifically, to teach us that here is hidden a greater and more important message! What is it ?!

The Gemara writes: "and behold an olive branch was in its mouth" ("in its mouth" is a language of speech) The dove said before Hashem: Master of the world, may my sustenance be bitter as an olive and placed in your hand - rather than sweet as honey and dependent on flesh and blood. The Torah uses the language of "taraf," as it says (Mishlei 30:8) "Feed me my required bread." And in the Midrash (at the beginning of Parashat Beha'alotecha) it is explained, that with that olive branch, the dove brought light to the world, and that is why olive oil merited to bring light with the lighting of the Menorah. We need to understand: what light did it bring to the world, and thundering hidden news with that lone olive branch?

At the end of the book "Torat Ohel" we find an amazing explanation of the holy Maharil Diskin zs"l: The leaves of the olive tree are exceptional for their strength. The Gemara says that they don't wither in the winter or the summer, and the Gemara even talks of writing documents on the leaves of the olive tree. Therefore, even though all trees were destroyed by the flood, as the Midrash states that Noah brought vines to replant grapes, saplings to replant figs, and branches to replant olives, - but the olive leaves were not destroyed by the flood and were floating on the water when the currents and storms had subsided. These leaves came to the dove, with them its hunger was quieted, and it brought one of them to Noah to hint to him and to us: 'Why did Hashem create these leaves, that can withstand even the flood? Because Hashem knew that I would turn to Him for my sustenance, from His wide and full, rich and open hand and He prepared these for me ahead of time!'

This knowledge - is light! Let's copy from the book "Netiv Misvotecha" one story from a thousand: "One time the holy Ba'al Shem Tov traveled with a student to a place with no water, and the student was deathly thirsty. He said to his holy Rabbi, "I am very thirsty." The Ba'al Shem Tov said to him, "Do you not believe that from the moment that Hashem created the world, He saw your trouble and created water for you to drink?" The student did not answer immediately until he had calmed down and said, "I truly believe!" And he answered, "Wait a little while." They continued on their way and they saw a non-Jew carrying two large jugs of water on his shoulder. They gave him a penny, and he let them drink. The Rabbi asked him, "Why are you carrying two such large jugs in this desolate desert?" And he answered, "My master went crazy and sent me to a far spring, and I am carrying this water three miles and I don't know why!" And the Rabbi answered, "Behold Hashem's providence, He created a lord who would go crazy to bring you water, and all this He foretold from the moment of the creation of the world!"

What is Between Noah and Avraham?

Our Rabbis had a criticism of Noah, for the Torah testifies that he was a perfect sadik. They compared him to Avraham, and said, "Avraham tried and succeeded, converted and called in the name of Hashem, brought Arabs into his tent and even prayed for the people of Sedom. But Noah - we have not found that he circulated to rebuke and bring people to repent, and he was unsure as to the building of the ark. Therefore, the flood also worked against him and is called by his name: " For they are the waters of Noah to me." (Yeshayahu 54)" But the "Ketav Sofer" tried to judge in Noah's favor: Noah was different from Avraham, for he had sons! Avraham was lacking sons until his old age, and therefore he tried hard to convert the people of his generation. But Noah had sons, and when one has sons - his first responsibility is to separate them from the depraved street, to protect them from the wild hedonism, to build a partition between them and the theft and robbery on the outside, the dangerous permissiveness that will bring the flood! And our eyes see that he succeeded! "And G-d spoke to Noah and his sons - all four were prophets" (Ibn Ezra) The whole generation was destroyed, and these sons established a world, an infrastructure for a new humanity! What a message there is in this, what a responsibility it places on every parent, father and mother: Your fist responsibility is towards your children, to save them from the environment of the street, and to guide them towards the path of the Torah!

The Golden Column

The Author of the "Admat Kodesh"

Rabbi Nissim Haim Moshe Mizrahi ZS"L

Author of "Admat Kodesh"

Rabbi Nissim Haim Moshe Mizrachi zs"l, who served as the "Rishon Le'sion" two hundred fifty years ago, was elevated and holy, and a tremendous genius in both hidden and revealed Torah. No less great were his kindness, modesty and his noble traits.

Once in the heat of the afternoon, in the middle of the summer, he was walking in the street. Across from him he saw a woman, carrying a tray of dough, ready for baking. In those days they did not bake in their homes. The baker's assistant would arrive to help in the carrying of the dough, and they were baked in the bakery for a few pennies and sent to the owner's home. The Rabbi saw this poor woman carrying the heavy tray and was shocked. "Where is the baker's assistant!" asked the rabbi, "Isn't this his job, his work!"

"I called him," sighed the woman, "and he did not want to come. I am a widow and I have no one to send. And the dough would have started to spoil soon..."

"Give me the tray," requested the Rabbi. The widow hesitated, and the Rabbi said, "I command you, in the name of the holy Torah!"

She gave the tray to his holy hands, and he carried it to the bakery. When the baker saw him, words could not escape his mouth! He cried, "Our Rabbi, what are you doing? Why didn't you call my helper, it would be an honor for him to carry your dough!"

"I am surprised," responded the Rabbi. "If your helper isn't careful enough in the commandment of sensitivity to a widow, which is an express commandment in the Torah, why would he hurry to my house? This is not my tray, it is the tray of the widow he refused to help..."

From The Wellsprings of the Parasha

"Noah was a perfect, righteous man in his generation,Noah walked with G-d"

We learned in the Mishnah (Avot 3:10) Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa would say, "Anyone with whom the spirit of the creations is pleased, G-d's spirit is pleased." And its explanation: anyone who is beloved below - is certainly beloved above. In light of this, Rabbi Yaakov Abuhassera explained our verse: "Noah was a perfect righteous man in his generation," meaning in his dealings with his generation - and this is sign that "Noah walked with G-d," that in his dealings with Hashem He was a perfect sadik, and the spirit of G-d was pleased with him.

In the Midrash it states that there are those who interpret this positively, that even in his generation he was righteous, and there are those who interpret negatively, that if he were in the generation of Avraham, he would have been considered nothing. And they are both right, explained the Hida zs"l. For it says in the Midrash, that when Avraham heard that Noah and his sons were saved from the flood in the merit of the kindness they showed to the animals in the ark, he accepted upon himself to act kindly with people who are created in the image of Hashem. We find, that in the generation of Avraham, Noah's deeds with animals would pale in comparison with Avraham's kindness. But on the other hand, it is he who began the acts of kindness, and Avraham learned from him, and thus his merit is even greater!

The word "man" seems extra, for it could have written "Noah was perfectly righteous." The Alshich zs"l explained according the Gemara, which asked about the verse "Happy is the man who fears G-d, who desires his commandments much." What is "Happy is the man," does it mean a man and not a woman?!! What is the explanation: It's easy to sin when one is young, when one's blood boils, and to repent in one's old age. Therefore: "Happy is the man," that while he is still a man, with strength in his body he "fears G-d!" And this is "Noah the man," while he was still a man, he was "perfectly righteous in his generation," in every period of his life. Rabbi Bah'ya zs"l asked: "righteous," is someone who keeps the commandments, and does not sin. But what is "perfect"? By an animal we find "A perfect red cow - without a blemish," but what is the meaning perfection here, in spirituality? If to say that he did not sin, that is included in righteousness! Rather, a blemish in the soul is evil traits, and its perfection - all the good traits!

Clear Halachah

Halachic decisions according to Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a

by the order of the Shulchan Aruch

By Rav David Yossef shlit"a Rosh Bet Midrash "Yehaveh Da'at"

Chapter 1

The Laws of Waking in the Morning

Continued from last week

2. It is good to say in the morning immediately upon arising: "Modeh ani lefanecha melech hai vekayam, shehehezarta bi nishmati behemlah rabah emunatecha." One should pause slightly between the word "behemlah" and the words "rabah emunatecha," as it says in the verse (Echah 3:23) "chadashim livkarim rabah emunatecha." One can say "Modeh ani" even before he has washed his hands in the morning.

3. "Shiviti Hashem Lenegdi tamid" is an important prinicple in the Torah and in the ways of the righteous who walk before Hashem. This means that one should always imagine that he is standing before Hashem, the King, King of kings, whose glory fills the world.. The Ari Z"L says that one should imagine the four letter name of Hashem before his eyes always, with the proper punctuation. This is the secret of "Shiviti Hashem lenegdi tamid," and there is a tremendous gain in this that he will have the fear of Hashem. And some have the custom of hanging the bet keneset on the Eastern wall "Shiviti Hashem lenegdi tamid," with the psalm "Lamenatzeach bin'ginot mizmor shir" in the design of a menorah, with the holy names. Both the law if one is allowed to get dressed before washing one's hands, and the question if one is allowed to walk four amot or to think words of Torah before washing one's hands will be explained in Siman 4, with the other laws of washing one's hands.

The Order of "Tikun Hatzot"

4. Our Rabbis the Kabbalists stressed the importance of being awake at midnight, and of saying at midnight the Tikun Hatzot, for it is worthy for all those who fear Hashem and who worry and despair about the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash. Our Rabbis the Kabbalists especially stressed the importance of Tikun Hatzot.

There are those who say that if it is difficult for one to go to sleep late after midnight and to wake up early to pray at sunrise, he should say Tikun Hatzot, and wake up later and pray after sunrise. But of course, he should not wake up so late as to miss the proper time for Shema and prayer because of Tikun Hatzot.

Tikun Hatzot is even more important than saying selihot during the month of Elul.

5. One should not begin saying Tikun Hatzot before midnight, because according to our Rabbis the Kabbalists, the hours before midnight are not hours of acceptance, they are hours of judgement in the world. But right after midnight the traits of kindness and mercy arise in the world. The time for Tikun Hatzot is exactly twelve hours after the midpoint between sunrise and sunset. For example if sunrise is at 5AM and sunset is at 6PM, then midday is at 11:30 AM. Twelve hours later is 11:30 PM, which is midnight. In any place in the world, one should calculate sunrise and sunset according to that place. However those who live outside Eretz Yisrael who want to pray Tikun Hatzot a little bit before midnight, and the time for Tikun Hatzot in Eretz Yisrael has already arrived in Jerusalem, can rely on this.

From the Wonders of Creation

Forecasting the Weather

Forecasting the weather is something that everyone talks about but no one can do anything about. If we want to quickly describe the weather we can say it is the "behavior" of the atmosphere, that is, the air that surrounds Earth, and the direction of the movement of this air which is effected by various currents; Hot air pressure which comes from the tropical regions and cold air pressure that comes from the Arctic regions. These currents and the movement of the air caused by them cause rain, snow and hail, and create winds and thunderstorms. Once upon a time, a farmer forecasted the weather according to various signs, including if he saw the chickens cleaning their feathers - then the farmer knew that the chickens feel the rain coming by the instincts the G-d hid in them and they are hurrying to oil their feathers with the fat that is a product of its glands, so that the drops of rain will slide off, and not wet them.

Today, there is a special scientific apparatus for the forecasting of weather, which is the meteorological service. Every country has this service, equipped with different lookout points in different regions. Usually they can give over the weather forecast for the coming 36 hours. Day or night, there are workers at the lookout points, marking down every slight change detected by the sensitive machines which measure the sped of the wind, the humidity in the air, the amount of rain, etc. How perfect is the "prophecy" of their forecasting? Usually, they are correct eight out of 10 times. The other two times that they are incorrect, they are not to blame. For G-d is the "changer of times, and switches the periods." After all the technical advancements and intelligence of man, they are still just men, limited by their knowledge and their capabilities. Frankly, the weather is managed just like every other creation in the world - by the Creator who watches over every last detail, for what can man do against natural phenomena? Can he stop the wind or prevent the rain from falling? Certainly not. From this we can truly see how much man is dependent on the kindness of the Creator; from this we can understand what our Rabbis taught - that they key to rain lies only in the hands of Hashem.

Measure for Measure

a continuing saga (part twelve)

Flashback: A wealthy man who respected Torah, but enslaved by love of himself, and closed off to all others, invited a wise poor man to his table to discuss matters of Torah, but he did not offer the poor man food or drink. The poor man, who had not eaten or drunk for several days, died from hunger. Later, the poor man appeared in a dream to the wealthy one: "You deserve death, he told him, for you caused my death. And since it is due to me that you will be punished, they do not allow me to rest in peace..."

"But this I have done, after much pleading," said the dead man, "that they will allow me to come and teach you the way of repentance. If you agree to this, we will both be saved - and your sin will be removed and forgiven. If not - my hands are clean. Come with me to stand before the court of Heaven, and they will allow me to go to my place..."

The wealthy man heard, and his bones trembled in fear. The sweat poured in buckets from his body; cold, frozen sweat. His mouth trembled feverishly before anything could escape his lips. He said, "I...I agree accept ev...everything that... that you will say..."

"I am very glad to hear this," answered the deceased. "Even though it is not in my interest..."

"W...Why not?!" said the rich man in surprise.

"For if you had refused me," said the soul, "you would go up with me to Heaven, and they would decide that I am not at fault for your refusal, and I would merit immediate arrival to my place in Gan Eden. Now, I will remain a wanderer until you improve. But I do not wish you ill, and I am ready to suffer to aid you. Now, listen. Get up on your feet and go home. And tomorrow, leave the city without telling a soul. Go to the border of the city and enter into the thick of the woods. You will not have to look for me, for I will be there to meet you."

"Where should I enter," asked the rich man," in which path?"

But his question hung in the air. The shining image had departed. A thick darkness settled.

Suddenly, he startled. Light was shining from behind him! What is it, what is that light? Frightened, he turned around, towards the door. His guard was there, with a lantern in his hand. "What happened, sir, your face is as pale as a dead man's," he cried.

"Shh.." trembled the voice of the rich man, "lead me to my dwelling with your lantern..."

The Tower and Us

A world scientific conference gathered in the land of Shinar. His majesty, King Nimrod honored them with his presence, and gave over words of blessing in which he outlined their path. With restrained emotion, the scientists accepted the directive of the Sun of Nations, the mighty ruler of the world: "We must study the world with watchful eyes, and understand every phenomena in a logical, intellectual way." He continued, "True science can not be satisfied with hidden and mysterious explanations concerning some higher powers that are involved in the creation. One must find a scientific explanation for every occurrence!" The directive was absolutely firm and concrete, and in Ur Casdim a giant furnace was built for scientists who would not follow in this path. They had one problem though. Nimrod was the son of Kush, who was the son of Ham. And Ham spoke of the year he had spent in an ark, when the flood destroyed all. Even his great-grandfather Noah still lived, and he would tell all who would listen about the original Adam, created by the hands of Hashem, who he had merited to know, and about Gan Eden from which he had been expelled. He spoke about his great-grandfather, Hanoch, who became an angel in his lifetime, and about his grandfather, Metushelah the righteous. He spoke about the angels who had come down from the Heavens to be the "Nefilim," and he spoke about a generation that had corrupted its ways, and despised its inheritance - "Tell the L-rd to leave us, we do not wish to know his ways." They were steeped in robbery and corruption. And he spoke about his prophecy, the commandment to build the ark, the ark that still now rests on the peak of Mt. Ararat. He spoke about the altar he had built when he had come out of the ark, the sacrifices he had offered, and the prophecy he had received that there would not be another flood.

The scientists sat and debated. The modern science, under the direction and blessing of Nimrod, crowns mankind with glory, forbids the mention of the Al-mighty, teaches to ignore His providence, and commands the closing of one's eyes. So there is no problem, we will explain the words of Noah as mere stories, that's all. But if so, who commanded him to build the ark? And who told him to gather all the animals and enter the ark, male and female? Not so terrible, we will say that it was some feeling, some sixth sense that whispered this to him. But how will we explain the flood itself?! That was not a natural phenomenon - and the flood is a concrete fact, the ark didn't fly on its own to the heights of Mt. Ararat... Shall we say that it was a punishment from Hashem? But if so then we must admit that there is reward and punishment, admit that there is One who watches over us and commands us, warns and punishes. And that means that King Nimrod is not the supreme ruler, and that science can not explain everything... No, that is impossible!

Then how can we explain that amazing event? We will say "Every 1803 years the sky falls down!" It is so simple, a natural phenomenon like this! And science can suggest a response too: "Let us build retaining pillars, that will hold up the sky and prevent the next flood..."

True, Noah the righteous had calmed us all down, telling us that there was a promise from Above that there would not be another flood. But science is in a trap - if it does not believe in a creator, and not in prophecy, then it can not rely on them... Thus, tens of thousands were enlisted to hold up the sky with a great towers - as long as they wouldn't agree to a Creator of the world, and not in reward and punishment!

It would be funny, if it weren't so sad, if there weren't "scientists" in our midst today. Let us look at ourselves, how do we look at the events around us, the tragedies and the suffering we have gone through. Do we understand that they are a result of sin, a punishment and a warning, and do we try to improve our ways? Or do we say that it was all a natural phenomenon, and we prepare some method to prevent its repetition?...

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