|Pop Quiz: What were the dimensions of Noah's ark? ADMIT IT TO YOURSELF by Rabbi Shmuel Choueka "In the middle of the day, Noah went into the Tebah." (Beresheet 7:13) Rashi tells us that Hashem heard the people of the generation saying, "If we see Noah enter the ark we will harm him and break the ark." Therefore, Hashem allowed Noah to enter in the middle of the day as if to say, "Let's see what anyone will really do." And indeed, nothing was done to Noah. The question is obvious: the people didn't believe that a flood would take place and they used to mock Noah while he was building the Tebah. If so, why would they care if he went into the Tebah right before the flood, if according to their understanding there would be no flood? Noah would have to come out of the ark in humiliation and they would be vindicated! The answer is, although they didn't think the flood would really come, deep down in their hearts they thought perhaps they were wrong and maybe there would be a flood. When a person does something wrong and rationalizes that it's OK, he doesn't want to believe that there will be retribution and he might even challenge those who say there will be punishment. But in his heart of hearts he will question himself and say maybe they're right and he is wrong, and so he may try to prevent those who warn him against his deeds, rather than accept their words. The human mind is very complex and there can be very contradictory feelings inside of us. Only through Torah and mussar can we unravel our emotions and feelings and get them where they are supposed to be. Shabbat Shalom. SPARE ME by Rabbi Reuven Semah -------- "The whole earth was of one language and of common purpose." (Beresheet 11:1) Our perashah is most famous for its episode of the Great Flood of Noah. The end of our perashah tells another story, the building of the great tower of Babel. This event occurred in the year 1996 from creation and 340 years after the flood. This tower is described as a tower built in order to rebel against Hashem. Rabbi Feldman z"l, the Mashgiah of the Mirrer Yeshivah, writes an interesting explanation of the human qualities at work in this story. We are aware of a fine character trait known as sharing the burden of your friend's hard times. We usually understand that to mean that, by sharing his burden we lighten that burden somewhat. However, the truth is that this trait can spare our friend from suffering totally! Hashem is the perfect G-d. When someone has difficulties or a tragedy, it not only affects him, but his family and friends as well. This ripple effect of someone's suffering can only happen if it is deserved by all those who feel it. If they don't deserve it, then Hashem won't make it happen. A true friend who feels the pain of his friend so deeply might not deserve to be saddened to that extent. This will cause Hashem to remove the cause of the sadness. The friend is spared the tragedy. The builders of the tower were not destroyed but the people of the flood were. The people of the tower loved each other. Rashi states, on pasuk 11:9, that these people lived together in brotherly love. Therefore they were spared. Bringing this lesson to our modern day is easy. The more you love your family, the more you love your friends, the more you feel their pain, the more you can save them from tragedy. Shabbat Shalom. WALK WITH ME "Noah walked with Hashem." (Beresheet 6:9) The Seforno offers a profound insight into Noah's "walking with Hashem." He states, "He walked in His ways, doing good for others and reproving his contemporaries." According to the Seforno, Noah followed in the path set before him by Hashem, performing kindness for his fellow man. This concept of kindness is defined as offering rebuke whenever necessary. Harav Chaim Elazary notes that following in Hashem's ways does not mean to separate oneself esoterically from this world, but rather to involve oneself in seeking to improve his fellow man. He also emphasizes that Noah's motivation for rebuking his fellow man did not emanate from a desire to protect and sanctify Hashem's name, but rather, it originated from a profound sense of love and caring for humanity. This caring for humanity translated itself into reproving the people whenever appropriate. The Seforno continues his thesis on the following pasuk stating that Noah was blessed with three sons only after he began admonishing his contemporaries. We may suggest that this implies a profound concept. Only one who demonstrates an ability to admonish and instruct can also be an effective parent to his own children. (Peninim on the Torah) WINDOW TREATMENT "A light/window you shall make for the ark." (Beresheet 6:16) There are two definitions stated by the Torah's commentators of the meaning of tzohar. One explanation is that it was a brilliant jewel which lit the ark. The traditional approach, however, is that it was simply a window. The purpose of this window is difficult to understand. What great sights would they behold that would necessitate incorporating this window into the ark's structure? The Ateret Mordechai poignantly explains the purpose of this window. Hashem hereby enjoins Noah to bear in mind his responsibility to mankind. While he sits in the ark, calm and tranquil, secure in his being spared from the terrible fate meted out to the rest of humanity, he is to look out of this window, gaze upon the terrible sight before him and reflect. He must realize the terrible spiritual danger which hangs over him were he to ignore this sight and divorce himself from the pain and anguish of those less fortunate than himself. He must not be happy and relieved at his own rescue and ignore the sorrow of others. The window served as a symbol of his moral obligation to others and as a reminder of his unrelenting obligation to acknowledge and show his gratitude to Hashem for His everlasting beneficence. (Peninim on the Torah) ANIMAL INSTINCT "All flesh had corrupted its way on the earth." (Beresheet 6:12) The Gemara teaches that the flood wiped out not only the people of that generation but also the animals. This is referred to in this pasuk, which says that "all flesh" had become corrupt. This point is hard to understand. Man, who has free choice to do good or bad, may at some time become corrupt. But how can an animal, which has no free will, veer from performing the will of Hashem? The Bet Halevi answers that this is a fundamental lesson regarding the nature of man. It is known that if a person becomes used to making a certain sin it becomes part of his nature and is very hard for him to change it. This effect influences not only the person himself, but also the people around him. Even if a person sins privately he is strengthening the forces of desire in the world. Consequently, other people are influenced by these forces and are also led to sin. When humanity sinks to low levels of depravity, even the animals are affected by it. This is what happened in the generation of Noah, when in the end, even the animals were mating one specie with another. Conversely, just as the wicked influence the entire world with their sins, the righteous also affect the entire world with their misvot. Rabbi Moshe Luzato, in his sefer Mesilat Yesharim teaches that a person who rules over himself and serves Hashem is considered an assistant of Hashem Himself, and he is uplifted and he uplifts the entire world with him. (Lekah Tob) ****************************************************** Answer to pop quiz: Three hundred cubits by fifty cubits by thirty cubits. ******************************************************|
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