NOVEMBER 4-5, 2005 3 HESHVAN 5766
We are all familiar with the story of the mabul, the flood which Hashem brought in the time of Noah. Because of the wickedness of the people, Hashem wanted to destroy the world and commanded Noah to build an Ark, which ultimately saved him and his family and all different species of animals, birds, etc.
We are under the impression that what saved Noah and his family was the fact that they were in the Ark, "protected" from the elements outside. Over the last many months, we have seen that even a strong house can be meaningless in the face of a storm, let alone a wooden Ark of Noah. The Rabbis tell us that what protected him was the hesed, kindness, which he performed in the Tebah. For one full year he was running around with his family to provide different food for every type of creature at different feeding times. The world was being destroyed because of corruption which is based on selfishness. The salvation came about through kindness which is based on selflessness.
In times of trouble and especially in the days leading to Mashiah, hesed, kindness, and selflessness will be the attributes which will save us from the floods of the world. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"A light shall you make for the Ark" (Beresheet 6:16)
Noah was commanded by Hashem to make a "sohar" for the Ark. What is a sohar? Rashi brings two explanations from a Midrash. Some say it was a window to let in light. Some say it was a precious jewel that shone brightly and provided light for the Ark. The Talmud Yerushalmi explains that these two opinions are dependent on another issue that was debated by the Sages. There was a debate about whether the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon and stars, were functioning during the flood or not. The opinion that held that the lights were shining also held that the sohar was a window that let in the natural light of the sun. The opinion that held that the heavenly lights were not shining, held that the sohar was a shining jewel that gave light, since there was no point in making a window for light if there was no light out there anyway.
What is the lesson for us in this subject? Our Sages teach us that every Jewish home is a spiritual fortress. Like the Ark, the Jewish home protects all of the occupants inside from the spiritual dangers that lurk outside. One may ask: Is it a good idea to open a window in our Ark to let in newspapers, turn on radios and turn on televisions? The answer would be the same as the debate mentioned above. If these types of communications were clean from all forms of negative influences, why not? But, if these influences are mixed with violence, immorality and atheistic teachings (e.g. evolution, etc.) why poison ourselves and darken our homes? Let us use a glowing jewel to give us light, the light of holy books, inspiring tapes and CD's that will purify us during the flood of society. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
"They and all the animals [were in the Ark]" (Beresheet 7:14)
The prophet Isaiah includes in the miraculous events of the days of the Mashiah that "the wolf will dwell together with the lamb" (11:6). This was also experienced in the days of Noah. What is so unique about the days of Mashiah?
In the times of Noah the whole world was in danger of destruction and annihilation. In such a situation it is natural for enemies to become friends and live together. All had the common goal of survival and there was no time for fighting. In the days of Mashiah, there will no longer be any war and there will be an abundance of goodness. Unfortunately, in prosperous and tranquil times, people find time for strife and fighting. Isaiah therefore foretells the miracle that will occur in the days of Mashiah, when everyone will have an abundance of good: even then there will be absolute peace and the wolf and the lamb will abide together. (Vedibarta Bam)
"And the dove came to him in the evening and behold an olive leaf, freshly plucked, was in her mouth" (Beresheet 8:11)
Rashi cites the Talmud Erubin 18b which notes that the bitter tasting leaf was unnatural for a yonah, dove, to eat. By bringing it, the dove was essentially saying, "I would rather eat bitter food from the hand of Hashem than something as sweet as honey from the hand of flesh and blood." It seems puzzling that the dove would "talk" this way to Noah. Hazal lauded Noah's exemplary display of hesed, kindness, in feeding all of the animals. He wasn't satisfied to give them all the same food simultaneously. Instead, he fed each animal its preferred food at its accustomed time. This around the clock responsibility deprived Noah of his sleep for a full year. Yet, the dove preferred bitter leaves, rather than rely upon this kindly gentle man.
Rav A.H. Leibowitz suggests a profound rationale for the dove's behavior. By nature it is problematic to turn to another human being for help. It becomes even more difficult when our request for a favor is either denied or granted grudgingly. Why is this so? Rav Leibowitz explains that man, as a creation of Hashem, possesses a neshamah, soul, which is bound up with Hashem. The soul feels pain when it must turn to a human being for sustenance, rather than receive it from Hashem, its original source. Regardless of the graciousness and benevolence of the giver, it remains difficult to accept a favor, even from a close friend. The image of Hashem which is inherent in everyone aspires to reach out to its source. Among Hashem's creations, man is undoubtedly the most sensitive. This is not a human failing, but rather a part of his spiritual composition. How careful should we be, when granting our fellow man a favor, to do so in an amiable manner, expediently and compassionately. (Peninim on the Torah)
The perashah starts with great praise for Noah, describing him as "a righteous man, perfect in his generations." Later in the perashah, after the flood, the pasuk says, "only Noah survived" (7:23). Why isn't he described here with all the titles that the Torah had previously given him? The Zohar says that Noah was at fault for not praying for his generation to be saved. Instead, he was only concerned that his own family should be saved. Therefore, in the final analysis, he was "only Noah," stripped of the praises he had received earlier.
Question: Have you ever prayed for the welfare of another person in a situation where you personally had nothing to gain by it? Can you think of anyone who could use your prayers right now? Someone who is trying to have children, struggling in business, suffering from an illness? What other problems can you pray for someone to be saved from?
A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.
Call to 646-279-8712 or email firstname.lastname@example.org (Privacy of email limited by the email address)
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