OOCTOBER 19-20, 2001 3 HESHVAN 5762
- Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"And from the animal which is not clean" (Beresheet 7:8)
When Noah was told to take the animals into the Ark, he was told to take the kosher animals and those that were "not clean - enena tehora." Hashem didn't use the word "tameh - unclean," because we are supposed to minimize the unclean words that come out of our mouths, just as He used only "clean" words.
Indeed, the Gemara tells us that when the great Rabbis heard their students talking, they could tell the level and the direction of the students based on the choice of words used!
Many times we come into contact with people who use course language and sometimes even vulgar talk. Although it may sound "cool," it reflects the essence of a person. We must learn to only speak in a clean and pure way so that our true inner self will be the same way! Shabbat Shalom.
- Rabbi Reuven Semah
"A window shall you make for the ark." (Beresheet 6:16)
Any real estate will tell you that the three fundamentals of real estate are: location, location, location. One of the things you can't change about a property is the view. A room with a view is a precious jewel.
When Hashem told Noah to build the ark, He included a special order to include a tzohar. Tzohar has two possible meanings. It can mean either a "precious stone" or a "window." A precious stone might fill the ark with a beautiful light as the sun's rays are refracted, bathing the inside of the ark with a multicolored glow. A precious stone lets the light in. A window, on the other hand, is for looking out. But what were they supposed to look out at? An empty view of gray water in every direction? Rabbi Rafael Stephansky explains that Hashem wanted Noah to have a window on the world to see the world's destruction and have a feeling of pity.
In life, it's easy to think that if I'm okay, the world is okay. Life's biggest jewel is to look out of our own arks and take up the yoke and the heartaches of others.
Torah Weekly published to Ohr Somayach Institutions.
- Rabbi Yaacov Ben-Haim
"Let Us descend and there confuse their language, so that they should not understand on another's language" (Beresheet 11:7)
Rashi explains what would happen as a result of the confusion of languages: "Someone would ask for a brick and the other man would being him mortar. The first man would then rise up against the second and smash his brain." It seems fairly obvious that the building of the Tower of Bavel would have come to a stand still once there would no longer be any means of communication between the people involved in its construction. But why does Rashi add that the resultant communication breakdown would lead to murder? If Hashem's intention was to halt the work on the tower, why was it necessary for there to be bloodshed as well? The Brisker Rav explains that Rashi here is teaching us an important lesson about the evil in man. Once a person has resolved to commit a sin he is not deterred by Divine punishment, even when it devastates his original plan of action. The builders of the tower were so determined that even when they found themselves unable to speak with each other they would not consider abandoning their plans. Instead they became so frustrated at the delay in their objective that they reacted irrationally and began to kill each other.
It is interesting to note further that even after these acts of murder were committed, work was still not stopped on the tower for the next verse states, "And Hashem dispersed them from there over the face of the whole earth and they stopped building the city." The confusion of the language and the violence that followed in its wake were both not sufficient to put a stop to the project until Hashem actually dispersed them forcefully! We find a similar pattern of events in the discussion of the people of Sedom. They had all gathered at Lot's doorway, threatening to break the door down if he did not allow them to take away his guests for their perverted purposes. The angels who were in the house with him grabbed him away from the frenzied crowd and struck the men at the doorway with blindness. What was the stricken men's reaction? Did they rush off to seek relief or medical attention for their sudden loss of sight? Did they at least desist from their evil designs? NO! "They struggled to find the door" (Beresheet 19:11). They were so bent on committing their crime that even a devastating plague of blindness could not deter them from pursuing their desired course of action.
It is a sobering thought to realize the depths to which a human being can sink once he has made up his mind that he wishes to ignore his conscience and pursue a course of sin! Shabbat Shalom.
"Noah was a righteous man, perfect in his generations" (Beresheet 6:9)
Rashi comments: "There are some among our Rabbis (rabbotenu) who explain this as praise for Noah: Were he living among sadikim he would have been a greater sadik. Others, however, explain it to his discredit: Noah was only a sadik in comparison to his generation; were he in the times of Abraham, he would be considered naught." Why in the negative opinion does Rashi omit the word "rabbotenu"?
The word "rabbotenu" literally means "our teachers." There are many ways to learn from a teacher. One can learn from his behavior, from his manner of speech and from the knowledge he instills.
In Pirkei Abot (1:6) we are taught to always judge a person favorably, giving him the benefit of the doubt. To judge Noah's status were he living in another generation is to speculate. Thus the Rabbis who praised him are suited to be "our teachers": we can learn from them to look favorably on another person.
The opinion of the others (who project that Noah possibly would not be so great) may be correct, but those who said it would not be qualified to be regarded as "our teachers" who are to instruct us in judging another person. (Vedibarta Bam)
This week's Haftarah: Yeshayahu 54:1-10.
In the perashah, Hashem floods the world, destroying almost all its inhabitants. The world is left barren and desolate, yet in a sense, Hashem has prepared the world for new, more worthy inhabitants to populate it. In the Haftarah, the prophet Yeshayahu consoles the land of Israel because the Jews are exiled throughout the world. Yeshayahu says, "for this is as the waters of Noah to me," comparing the Exile to the Flood. The prophet tells the land that the Jews will return with renewed strength, better than they were before. The reason for the Exile was to destroy those who were not worthy to live on the land, and allow those who would be worthy inhabitants to return. (Tell it from the Torah)
Answer to Pop Quiz: Fourteen (seven males and seven females).
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