For the week ending 20 October 2012 / 3 Heshvan 5773

Parshat Noach

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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It is ten generations since the creation of the first human. Adams descendants have corrupted the world with immorality, idolatry and robbery, and G-d resolves to bring a flood which will destroy all the earths inhabitants except for the righteous Noach, his family and sufficient animals to repopulate the earth. G-d instructs Noach to build an ark. After forty days and nights, the flood covers even the tops of the highest mountains. After 150 days the water starts to recede. On the 17th day of the 7th month, the ark comes to rest on Mount Ararat. Noach sends out a raven and then a dove to ascertain if the waters have abated. The dove returns. A week later Noach again sends the dove, which returns the same evening with an olive leaf in its beak. After another seven days Noach sends the dove once more; the dove does not return. G-d tells Noach and his family to leave the ark. Noach brings offerings to G-d from the animals which were carried in the ark for this purpose. G-d vows never again to flood the entire world and designates the rainbow as a sign of this covenant. Noach and his descendants are now permitted to slaughter and eat meat, unlike Adam. G-d commands the Seven Universal Laws: The prohibitions against idolatry, adultery, theft, blasphemy, murder, eating meat torn from a live animal, and the obligation to set up a legal system. The worlds climate is established as we know it today. Noach plants a vineyard and becomes intoxicated from its produce. Cham, one of Noachs sons, delights in seeing his father drunk and uncovered. Shem and Yafet, however, manage to cover their father without looking at his nakedness, by walking backwards. For this incident, Canaan is cursed to be a slave. The Torah lists the offspring of Noachs three sons from whom the seventy nations of the world are descended. The Torah records the incident of the Tower of Bavel, which results in G-d fragmenting communication into many languages and the dispersal of the nations throughout the world. The Parsha concludes with the genealogy of Noach to Avram.


What’s in a Word

“Then G-d said to Noach, ‘Come into the ark, you and all your household’...” (7:1).

The word in Hebrew for ark is “Teiva, which also means “word”.

Throughout the history of the Jewish People, both in times of oppression and assimilation, our only refuge has been to “Come into the Teiva”; to come into the “word”.

That word is the word of prayer uttered from a contrite heart; that word is the word of the Torah, which has proved itself to be a “Noah’s ark” for our entire household throughout all of history.

  • Source: Ba’al Shem Tov

Progeny of Love

“These are the offspring of Noach – Noach was a righteous man” (6:9).

The essential offspringof a person are his righteous acts.

Just as a person nurtures and cares for his offspring, sparing no love or effort to perfect them, likewise one should behave toward one’s good deeds. One should lavish love to perfect even the least promising of them, as one would do with one’s children, for no one considers even the least of one’s children insignificant.

  • Source: Rabbi Moshe Feinstein

Jewish Ecology

“And G-d saw the earth and behold it was corrupted, for all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth.” (6:12)

The Rosh Yeshiva’s wife had to make a decision. Her dining room suite was on its last legs. An investigation was made. It would cost almost exactly the same amount of money to repair the old suite as it would to replace it with an identical new one. Obviously she would want to have a new suite, rather than an old one that had been patched up, however good the repair.

Obviously. However, without a moment’s hesitation she decided to have the old suite repaired. One of the yeshiva students asked her why she didn’t prefer to have a new suite.

“It’s not for sentimental reasons.” she replied. “Around this table sat all the great Torah sages of Europe at one time or another. When they came to Baltimore, they would always stay with us. It was at this table that Reb Elchonon learned Torah, that Reb Boruch Ber ate gefilte fish on Shabbat...”

When we think of ecology, we tend to think of our physical impact on Nature. However our spirituality and our morality also impact the ecosphere.

Two identical tables come off the factory assembly line. One table finds its way to a bar. One to a yeshiva. The table in the bar is not the same table as the one in the yeshiva. The table in the yeshiva, supporting holy books and thoughts is a different table. Not metaphorically — but in reality. Its very essence is altered and uplifted.

Such is the power given over to man. We can alter the very eco-structure of the world.

We can destroy the world by polluting it with sin. Or through the mitzvot of the Torah we can raise ourselves and the world with us to the Heavens.

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