"These are the offspring of Noach. Noach was a tsaddik, perfect in his generations" (Bereshis 6:9). The Noam Elimelech has a novel explanation of this verse. A person who is striving to serve Hashem takes advantage of every opportunity to sanctify His Name. Even his physical functions such as eating and sleeping are done with holiness. When the tsaddik succeeds in removing the mundane from his life, he rises a level in ruchnius (spirituality). This is called a new generation. His old ways were the old generation. His new level of service to Hashem is a new generation. The tsaddik's deeds have far reaching effects. He serves as an example to those around him that Hashem is with us in this world. When the tsaddik rises in ruchnius, he strengthens the connection between Hashem and the world. His righteousness affect the whole generation.
Kinderlach . . .
As tsaddik such as Noach helped his whole generation! We are all striving to be tsaddikim and tsidkonios. Our good deeds are felt in the home, school and in the neighborhood. They bring a beautiful influence of shalom, holiness, Torah learning, chessed, and happiness. As the Gemora says in Yoma 86a, people say about you, "Fortunate is his father who taught him Torah, fortunate is his Rebbe who taught him Torah, oy for those people who do not learn Torah. He learns Torah, see how nicely he behaves?" Do not think for one minute that your good behavior goes unnoticed. We appreciate it! Keep up the good work!
It Takes Time
The world had gone too far. Corruption and immorality were everywhere, even among the animals. There was no remedy. The world had to be destroyed. Therefore, Hashem brought the flood. Twelve months from beginning to end. The only surviving life on earth was inside a tiny ark, where Noach and his family worked tirelessly taking care of all of the animals. At them end of the flood, they went out and repopulated the earth. Twelve months are a long time. Hashem could have destroyed the earth in a moment. Why did He take twelve months, thereby making Noach and his sons work so hard for so long? Rav Meir Simcha of Dvinsk, zt"l in his sefer Meshech Chochma explains as follows. The animals had developed a bad nature, loving evil and corruption. They too needed re-education. Twelve months in the ark, living in close quarters was the solution. They received only limited amounts of food from the hand of man. This taught them humility and morality. Only after receiving a good education were they able to go out of the ark, and live properly in the world. This re-education does not happen overnight. It takes time.
Kinderlach . . .
Imagine someone who wanted to work on the midda (character trait) of anger. He said to himself, "Starting now, I will never get angry again." He passed his first test when someone stepped on his toe. "I am so patient" he thought. "The next day, his sister spilled milk on his pants. He felt his anger rising, but he controlled himself. "I really have this anger problem solved." The third day, someone pushed in front of him while he was waiting patiently in line. That was too much. He lost his temper and reacted angrily. "I'll never solve this anger problem," he thought. "I may as well give up." The person had wonderful intentions. He did not realize that improving middos takes time. Two steps forward, one step back. As the verse states, "The tsaddik falls seven times and gets up" (Mishlei 24:16). Be patient, kinderlach, and give yourselves time. That is the lesson that we learn from Noach.
Up The Down Escalator
"Imma, thank you for bringing us to this shopping mall."
"You're welcome kinderlach. The store that we want is on the second floor. Let us go up the escalator over there."
Chani and Shoshie go up the "up" escalator. But Moishie, always the playful one runs up the "down" escalator. He arrives at the top panting and out of breath.
"Moishie, you really came up the hard way."
"Imma, that is what life is all about."
We have spoken about the virtues of raising our ruchnius (spiritual) level. Noach was a tsaddik who accomplished this. We may think that when we have reached a higher level we can relax and take it easy. After all, we have accomplished something truly great. Rav Moshe Aharon Stern zt"l explains that life is like walking up a down escalator. There is no standing still. If a person stops pressing upwards, he will slip downwards. Noach was a tsaddik, who was saved while his whole generation was destroyed. He toiled without sleep for an entire year, feeding all of the animals inside the ark. When he left the ark, he planed a vineyard, picked the grapes, made wine, and became drunk. The verse states, "Vayachel Noach" (Bereshis 9:20). Noach's spiritual level fell. He was now called "A man of the land" (Bereshis 9:20). He was not going forward, therefore he went backward.
Kinderlach . . .
We are now beginning school again. Do you remember the wonderful levels we reached during the Yomim Noraim? How we cried to Hashem in our prayers? Can you still feel the intense happiness that we all felt during Succos, when we sat in the shade of the Shechina? Who can forget how we danced our feet off on Simchas Torah? Now we are back to our school routines. Do not let yourselves slip down, kinderlach. Hang on to the spiritual accomplishments that you have achieved. Keep running up that down escalator.
Kinder Torah Copyright 2000 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman
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