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Volume 31, Issue 2
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholar’s Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, The Vilna Gaon, Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin and The Call of the Torah.
ותשחת הארץ לפני האלקים ותמלא הארץ חמס
“And the earth was corrupted before the L-rd, and the earth was filled with thievery.” (6:11)
Certainly, everything is “before the L-rd.” What was specific in the corruption of the land that the Torah emphasizes that it, in particular, was “before the L-rd”?
Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried explains that the corruption was only evident to G-d. As for the people, they thought theirs was an acceptable lifestyle. Thievery and adultery had become so prevalent that, even in their innermost consciousness, they did not sense the corruption of their actions. When matters reach such a state and sinners are convinced that theirs is a valid way of living, no amount of rebuke will be effective. For them, the only option was destruction. (Parsha Anthology)
ויאמר אלקים לנח קץ כל בשר לפני…עשה לך תבת עצי גפר…ואני הנני מביא את המבול
“Hashem said to Noach, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me…Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood…And as for Me – behold, I am about to bring the flood.’” (6:13-14,17)
QUESTION: Why did Hashem command Noach to build a teivah before He told him that He will bring a mabul to destroy the world?
ANSWER: Hashem wanted Noach to have the opportunity to receive reward for building the teivah for the sole reason that it was what he was commanded to do. Had Hashem first informed Noach of the impending mabul, and then commanded him to build a teivah, it would not be apparent what Noach’s motive was in following that command. Noach was prepared to build a teivah, even without knowing the reason for it, because Hashem told him to do so. (Drash Moshe)
וידבר אלקים אל נח לאמר צא מן התיבה
“G-d spoke to Noach, saying ‘Leave the ark.’” (8:15-16)
As we have seen, “entering the ark” is a metaphor for the need to immerse ourselves in Torah study and prayer. However, the true purpose of entering the ark is to leave it. G-d commanded us – as He commanded Noach – not to remain in the protective spiritual environment of Torah study and prayer, but to emerge from it, enter the world, and transform the world in to G-d’s home. (Lubavitcher Rebbe)
ואלה תולדות בני נח
“These are the descendants of Noach…” (10:1)
This genealogical table is further proof of the creation of the world. The Rambam demonstrates that Avraham knew Noach (he was fifty-eight years old when Noach died) and Noach’s father Lemech was fifty-six years of age at Adam’s death (Guide to the Perplexed 3:50). Thus, there was a rather short “chain of tradition” from creation to the time of the patriarchs. And when they proclaimed that truth about creation by G-d they could count on ear-witnesses to confirm their words. Avraham was the fourth link in the unbroken chain of tradition beginning from Adam. Moreover, Yitzchak and Yaakov both knew Shem, Noach’s son. He taught them the Divine laws; Yaakov was fifty years old when Shem died. It was Yaakov who transmitted all the great truths learned from this witness of the Flood to his generation which went down to Egypt, and to Pharaoh and his servants.
“And so, those who received these truths could easily verify them, because one cannot lie about facts that go back only four or five generations.” This was one of the arguments which Ramban used in Barcelona in 1263, during his debates with the apostate Dominican friar Pablo before James I, king of Spain and Aragon. (R’ Munk)
A Wise Man would say:
“Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, an amateur builder built the ark; professionals built the Titanic.” (Torah Tavlin)
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