OCTOBER 23-24, 2009 6 HESHVAN 5770
"Of every clean animal, you should take seven and seven." (Beresheet 7:2)
Of every animal on earth, at least two would enter the ark. If the animal was unkosher, two were allowed on the ark, and if it was a kosher animal, seven pairs would be allowed into the ark. Of the unkosher ones, only one male and one female were taken to ensure the survival of that species. However the kosher ones were going to be used as sacrifices after the flood, so seven pairs were taken. Another difference was that the unkosher animals came on their own but the kosher one's didn't. They had to be gathered by Noah. Rabbenu Bahya explains that Hashem is so merciful that He felt it would be cruel to decree that they come on their own to their own slaughter. As a result of this, Noah had to gather them himself.
One might ask, what difference does it make, after all the animals were completely oblivious to their fate and at that moment their lives were being saved? Rabbi A. Henoch Leibowitz answers that, true, they didn't know, but Hashem knew. By His example He wanted to teach Noah, and us, how refined and delicate our nature as humans is. We have a great sense of kindness and compassion. The most subtle act of cruelty would damage our sensitivity and our trait of mercy.
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (Igrot Moshe Choshen Mishpat II 47:1) says that the slaughtering of a kosher animal would have created in the slaughterer a trait of cruelty if not for the special protection of the misvah. The Rabbi concludes that if there is no misvah, one should avoid killing any creature because it breeds a cruel disposition in a person. Our trait of mercy is a wonderful gift; we must always protect it. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
"And from the animals that are not pure..." (Beresheet 7:2)
Noah was commanded to take from each specie seven pairs of animals which are kosher and one pair of animals which are not kosher, and bring them into the ark. The Torah calls the kosher animals "taho") - pure - and the non-kosher ones are called "asher lo tahor" - those that are not pure. The Rabbis point out that the proper word to use when describing the unacceptable animals is "tameh" - unclean, and yet the Torah uses the longer phrase "asher lo tahor" - which is not pure. This is to teach us the importance of not using negative words when talking about someone or something. The Gemara tells us that once three Kohanim were describing what kind of a portion each one received and one of them used a negative word to describe his share. They checked up after him and saw that there was something wrong with his lineage.
The lesson is very simple yet extremely important. The way we speak says so much about ourselves. Not only what we say, but the kind of words we use reflect on our character and on our spirit. We should always try to use words of purity and beauty and stay away from vulgarities and the like. It is especially difficult in today's day and age, when the sharper the word, the more recognition one gets. But it is much more meaningful if we put some thought into the choice of words we use. If the Torah, in which every letter counts, saw fit to add extra words in order to speak in a positive way, shouldn't we do the same? Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"Noah was a man, righteous and wholehearted." (Beresheet 6:9)
The characterization of Noah as a saddik, a devout and righteous man, is enigmatic. Indeed, Hazal themselves question Noah's unique personality. He was, however, the only individual who Hashem saved from the devastation that engulfed an entire world. Corruption, violence, and debauchery effected a tragic end to that world. One man stood alone with his family, in contrast to these people, unaffected by their immoral way of life. Hashem told him to build an ark in order to save himself and go forward to rebuild the world.
"For you I have seen righteous before Me in this generation." In no other place in the Torah does Hashem describe a man as a sadik. Nonetheless, Hazal state that Noah's faith was equivocal. "He lacked faith, for had the water not reached his ankles he would not have entered the ark." Indeed, the angels demanded that he perish with the rest of his generation.
This unique phenomenon, in which Hazal question one whose character Hashem has praised, prompts the obvious question. "What was wrong with Noah? Where did his weakness lie? And wherein did he fail?" Harav Moshe Swift z"l suggests that the answer lies ion the contrast between Noah and two other great leaders, Abraham and Moshe. For days, Abraham Abinu stood entreating Hashem on behalf of the evil inhabitants of Sedom and Amorah. He threw himself into war in order to save his nephew Lot. Moshe Rabenu similarly devoted his life to Klal Yisrael. On the other hand, Noah spent 120 years building an ark and preparing the equipment, but he did not influence the moral development of a single person in his generation. Noah was not able to retrieve even one individual from devastation. Consistent with this concept, the Zohar states, "Since Noah did not pray for the people, the flood of devastation was therefore named after him." We associate Noah with a world that was destroyed, rather than with the new world which he eventually built.
One may succeed in amassing a great fortune, but if the world does not benefit from his wealth, what good has it brought him? One can be the greatest physician, but if he does not expend his talents by treating the sick, his skill is useless to society. A sadik's presence offers great merit for his generation, but if he does not influence his peers to correct their ways, he remains as "saddik lefanai," as the Torah says about Noah, a saddik before Me (Hashem) but not to mankind.
The lesson to be derived from Noah's tragic yet glorious life is that one cannot build a Jewish homelife only for oneself. We must endeavor to exercise our influence on our family and on the society in which we live. Noah's glorious life went from the high of Ish Sadik to the low of Ish Adamah, the heavenly man to the earthly man. His own child Ham, who had witnessed such devout piety as a child, was driven to such an act of indecency, as recorded in the Talmud. How tragic it is for the old father whose life comes to an end with the words "cursed be Canaan," cursing the child whom he saved from the flood. How many people have tragically passed on cursing the day that shame was brought upon them by their own descendants? The challenging question stands accusing us all; are we building an ark only for ourselves, or for others, too? We must exert our influence upon those around us, so that we do not remain alive just to Hashem while being dead to the world around us. (Peninim on the Torah)
Most people would agree that inventors are a special breed. Born with a talent for finding solutions to problems, they can concoct ways to do things better, using items that are available to everyone. Others, who do not have their creativity, don't even see the potential contained in the simple raw materials they use.
Most people are more creative during childhood than they are as adults. Early failures, pressure to conform, and force of habit tend to stifle creativity.
A mother was very busy preparing for guests and left her children to keep themselves busy. At the end of her hectic day, she was pleasantly surprised when her brood presented her with a display of modes of transportation that they had created from common household objects. There was a car constructed from a matchbox body, button wheels, and bottle cap head- and tail-lights; an airplane made from an empty paper-towel roll fuselage and plastic hanger wings with rubber-washer wheels; a suspension bridge made from two juice carton towers holding up a Fruit by the Foot candy roadway, suspended by twist ties from a long piece of yarn. Kids can do it. Can you?
Being creative starts with a positive attitude. Whatever the difficulty, you must believe that it can be resolved. Problems can be eliminated so that they will not bother you again in the future. This takes a little patience and a wide-open mind. Ask yourself: What can I use - what can I add or subtract from the picture - to solve the problem?
Next time you come face to face with a roadblock, don't run from the problem - confront it. Know that you can solve it. Open your mind to "child's play." Be a kid again and create the solution. (One Minute With Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)
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.
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