by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS NOACH 5763 BS"D
Ch. 6, v. 9: "Eileh toldos Noach Noach" - These are the offspring of Noach Noach - Although a person has offspring and hopefully rears them in a positive manner, the most important offspring he has is himself, to do his best to behave in a befitting manner. This is "toldos Noach Noach." (shomati)
Ch. 6, v. 9: "Ish tzadik tomim hoyoh b'dorosov es hoElokim his'ha'lech Noach" - A completely righteous man was he in his generations with Elokim Noach walked - There are people who are very punctilious in their behaviour towards their fellow man, making sure to not have wrongdoings monetarily nor hurt their feelings, and there are those who are very careful in their service of Hashem. It is hard to find someone who is careful in both fields. Our verse tells us of Noach's great virtues. He was both careful in interpersonal behaviour, "Ish tzadik tomim hoyoh b'dorosov," and also in his relationship with Hashem, "es hoElokim his'ha'lech Noach." (Pardes Yoseif)
Ch. 6, v. 9: "B'dorosov" - In his generations - Rashi cites two opinions regarding this word. One opinion is that it teaches that he was great in a decadent generation and all the more so if he had grown up in Avrohom's generation. The other opinion is to the pejorative, that it was only in his decadent generation that he was great in relationship to the others, but in Avrohom's generation he would not have been considered so outstanding. Whose opinions are these?
A look at Targum Yerushalmi and the Sforno on the last verse of the previous parsha, "V'Noach motzo chein b'einei Hashem," indicates these two opinions. One explanation for his finding favour, meaning that he was dealt with in a kinder fashion than he deserved, is that his children did not have sufficient merit to be saved from the great flood, but he himself did, as he was totally righteous. The other opinion is that he himself did not deserve to be saved, but has some merit and Hashem through His infinite kindness saved him.
Please note that the M.R. 29:5 also seems to indicate that Noach was not all that meritorious as it explains the juxtaposition of the last verse of Breishis to the first verse in our parsha as follows: Noach found favour in Hashem's eyes because of his offspring who were very righteous. This is totally the reverse of the opinion mentioned earlier, that he had sufficient merit for himself but not for his family.
Ch. 7, v. 14: "V'chol hachayoh l'minoh" - And every animal to its species - In Yeshayohu 11:16 where it lists miracles that will take in the days of Moshiach it says that a wolf and a sheep will dwell in peace. In our verse we see that even in the days of Noach they dwelled in peace. However, there is a difference. By Noach when the world was being destroyed the animals instinctively understood that they had to behave properly to survive as otherwise their total destruction would be imminent. In the days of Moshiach there will be plenty. This is a time when one can allow himself to consume another, and nevertheless there will be peace. (Pardes Yoseif) Perhaps we can answer that the predators were kept in their own separate cubicles, as is indicated in Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer, which states that there were thousands of compartments in the ark.
Ch. 7, v. 22: "Mikol asher bechorovoh meisu" - Of all that lived on the dry land succumbed - However fish survived (gemara Z'vochim 113b). Although it is obvious that fish live in water, since the gemara Sanhedrin 108b says that the waters of the great deluge were boiling how indeed did the fish survive? The waters near the ark remained cool and the fish congregated there. They had a merit to live because they did not deviate from relations with their species. As well they were the first living creatures. Although birds were likewise created on the fifth day, fish were created first. Hashem wanted to avoid destroying the species that He first created. On Shabbos we likewise consume fish as our first course, ahead of chicken and surely ahead of meat, as animals were created on the sixth day. (Rebbe Reb Bunim of Parshizcha)
Please note that although the fish were meritorious they are readily caught by the thousands by net fishing. The fish complained to Hashem about this and He told them that it is a result of their not praying for the welfare of other creatures when they were apprised of their being saved. Nevertheless, Hashem gave them a blessing that they would reproduce in prolific amounts. Unfortunately nowadays many species of fish have their populations decimated by irresponsible net fishing.
Ch. 8, v. 11: "Vatovo eilov ha'yonoh l'eis erev v'hinei a'lei zayis torof b'fihoh" - And the dove came to Noach at evening time and behold a torn off olive leaf was in her mouth - Why does the Torah point out that this took place in the evening? See Sh.O. O.Ch #248 where it says that one should not embark on a trip by sea less than three days before Shabbos. The 17th of MarCheshvon was a Wednesday (see Tzror Hamor). The calculation of days that it rained began on the 18th as Noach did not spend a full day in the ark on the 17th. Calculate 40 days of rain, 150 days of continuous flooding, 60 days until the mountain tops appeared, an additional 40 days of waiting till the raven was sent out and 14 days more till the dove was sent. This totals 304 days, and when divided by 7 we have 43 weeks and 3 days. This final day comes out on Shabbos. The dove did not want to pluck a leaf on Shabbos. It was only when Shabbos ended that it tore off the leaf and brought it to Noach. (Migdal Oze)
This insight would indicate that doves have night vision. It also gives us an additional insight into the Shabbos song of "Yonoh motzoh vo mono'ach," as it rested on Shabbos and refrained from ripping off the olive leaf.
Ch. 8, v. 20: "Va'yiven Noach mizbei'ach …… va'yaal olos" - And Noach built an altar …… and he offered olos - Noach had just survived the great deluge. One who survived a dangerous journey at sea is required to bring a "todoh" offering, not an "oloh." However, Noach had not yet been granted permission to consume meat albeit that permission would be granted shortly thereafter. A todoh offering has some of its meat eaten by the owner so he had no choice but to offer an oloh, whose flesh is totally consumed by the altar. (Va'y'dabeir Dovid)
Ch. 11, v. 2: "Va'yimtzu vikoh b'eretz Shinor va'yeishvu shom" - And they found a valley in the land Shinor and they settled there - Two verses later we find them deciding to build a tower whose apex would reach into the heavens. Look at how driven they were. They had settled in a valley and to build a tower that would reach high into the sky they would have all that extra construction to just reach sea level as they were in a valley.
One of the outcomes of their wrongdoing was that they ended up speaking different languages. Historically this has had a most powerful negative impact on the world, as warring sides were divided by language. Sometimes the language difference was enough to push groups into warring in the first place.
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