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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Noach

Parshat Noach

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Noach                                                                                   Print Version
3rd of Cheshvan, 5782 | October 9, 2021

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rebbetzin Chaya Sora Gertzulin
Rising Above the Floodwaters

Upon finishing the last passage of Devarim, we say “Chazak… Let us be strengthened”, and then, on the very same day, we start once again, from Bereishis, the very beginning.

We live in a society that celebrates graduations, be it nursery school or graduate school. From cards and balloons, to cakes and parties, the message is “Congrats Grad”. Done with one stage of education, on to the next.

Torah study is different. A Jew never “graduates”. A Jew is never done. Torah study is a life-long journey. One never completes or tires of Torah learning. As soon as we complete one cycle, we start anew from the very beginning.

Torah study doesn’t require new “back-to-school” books. The very same Chumash is our source of study, year after year. Herein lies the mystical magic of Torah. Each time we study the parshah, we glean new understandings and gain timeless lessons and insights.

The Midrash in Bamidbar tells us “Ayin panim l’Torah – Seventy faces to the Torah”. There are countless valuable lessons we can learn from Torah study.

Torah has the additional power of bridging the generations. Grandparents, parents and children can study together. Torah is both ageless and timeless. I look forward to helping my grandchildren with their Torah study homework. I cherish the time spent together, and even learn something new myself. It’s amazing that the same Chumash is taught in first grade, in twelfth grade, and in adult study classes. A holy book of life lessons for all ages.

The Torah commentary and sage, Nachmanides, commonly known as Ramban (1194-1271), wrote a letter to his son, on how to live a modest and humble life. The letter, “Iggeret HaRamban” (lit. Letter of the Ramban) advises: “When you arise from your Torah learning, reflect carefully on what you have studied, to find a lesson in it that you can internalize and put into practice.”

The Rebbetzin a”h, would often quote a passage from Pirkei Avos, Ethics of the Fathers, “Hafoch bah, hafoch bah, d’kulah bah. Turn the pages, turn the pages, for everything is in it.” (Ethics 5:26) In other words, all of the wisdom of the world, and the proper way to resolve difficulties and dilemmas, are embedded in the Torah. Every week, at her parashah class, the Torah portion would come alive and relevant.

So many who attended the class would tell me that they felt as if my mother was speaking to them personally, and somehow always knew exactly what they needed to hear. When the Rebbetzin taught the Torah portion, it resonated within everyone’s heart.

Our Torah is a “living Torah”, with messages for all times - we only have to “turn the pages”.

This Shabbos, we open to Parashas Noach. The Torah tells us “…Noach was a righteous man, perfect in his generation – Noach walked with HaShem.” (Bereishis 6:9)

The world Noach lived in was lacking in morals and ethics. “The earth had become corrupt before HaShem, and the earth became filled with robbery.” (Bereishis 6:11) Noach chose to be different, and walked with HaShem. He stood alone and found the inner strength to hold onto his beliefs and morals. He refused to be influenced by the world around him. He had the fortitude to say “I will not be part of this deal, I will not conduct my business this way. I will not participate in that conversation, and no thanks – that entertainment is not for me.”

HaShem told Noach of a great flood, a “mabul” that He would bring upon the world. He directed Noach to build a “teivah”, an ark. For one-hundred-and-twenty years, Noach hammered away, building an ark of epic magnitude. It had to be large enough to house his family along with a menagerie of animals, from large elephants and tall giraffes, to fierce lions and even the tiniest of insects. Noach made room for them all.

Noach’s incessant construction aroused the curiosity of many. People would stop by, questioning Noach as to what he was up to. When Noach explained about the impending flood that would obliterate all of mankind, the reaction was one of disbelief and laughter. To his credit, Noach continued his task, even though he was subject to mockery and ridicule. Though the teivah was visible to many, Noach wasn’t successful in convincing anyone to join him.

In contrast, Avraham Avinu, our Father Abraham, from a simple desert tent was able to reach out to so many. How is it that Avraham succeeded in influencing multitudes, while Noach couldn’t get anyone to hop aboard?

The Torah tells us about Avraham and Sarah “es hanefesh asher ossu b’Choron” – “And the souls they created in Choron.”
How does one create a soul? Avraham and Sarah gave of their very being. “Words that emanate from one heart, enter another.” They gave from their hearts, they gave from their souls, and their words entered the hearts and souls of so many.

Avraham was known as a man of “chessed”. With chessed, lovingkindness, one can build a world.

We also find that Avraham begged and pleaded with HaShem to save the city of Sodom. Yet, nowhere do we find that Noach cried out on behalf of the people of his world.

HaShem instructed Noach to take the animals into his teivah, making him the world’s “busiest zookeeper”. His days and nights were filled tending to all the animals. Life in the ark was “chessed boot-camp”. Noach left the teivah with a new understanding of selfless giving.

Like Noach, we too, are trying to stay afloat. Our floodwaters are the stormy waves of Covid. Many of us are still experiencing various degrees of restrictions – even lockdowns, with schools and stores shuttered. It is affecting us, our children and grandchildren, and all those around us.

We have been spending more and more time at home. Let us make our homes our personal “teivahs”, our sanctuaries, our safe havens. HaShem’s commandment to Noach was “Asei lecha – make for yourself” a teivah. This message speaks to all of us today. “Make for yourself a teivah.”

Our home is our “teivah”. Let’s fill it with chessed, with lovingkindness. It will keep us afloat during these turbulent times. King David writes in Psalms (89:6) “olam chessed yibaneh”, -- if we fill our world with kindness and compassion, HaShem will rebuild the world with kindness and compassion.

A teivah is an encasement. Just as Noach’s teivah housed his family and all the animals, so too, does our physical body house our spiritual soul – our neshamah. We must ask ourselves: Are we making room for others in our personal arks? Are we using our time to lend a helping hand, to give a listening ear, to care, pray, and even cry for others? Do we really feel the pain of others?

Olam chessed yibaneh. Let’s rebuild the world with chessed.
The teivah had a “tzohar” – a window. The holy Baal Shem Tov teaches that the word tzohar is comprised of three Hebrew letters; tzadi, hei, and reish. These are the same letters as the word “tzarah” – a problem. With the right mindset, we can take our tzarah, our challenge, and transform it into a tzohar, a window – a window of opportunity that lets in light, warmth and sunshine.

At times, we feel that there is no end in sight. But if we view our challenges and difficulties as opportunities for growth, we will see beracha, blessing in our lives.

I will share a sweet, personal story. This upcoming October 22 is exactly nine years since Hurricane Sandy. The floodwaters hit my daughter Tziri’s Five Towns neighborhood very hard. My three-year-old grandson had just learned the story of Noach in school. He looked at the water covering the main floor of their home. He looked out the window and saw a flooded street, and their car submerged in water. “Mommy”, he called out, “I see the flood, the mabul, but where is the teivah?”

When my daughter shared the story with me, we both had a good laugh. And then it hit me. Yes, where is the teivah?
The teivah is wherever you make it. We can make our own teivah.

Rabbi Reuven Hoff
The Truth

What comes to mind when you heard the word, “Truth”? We say, “Moshe is truth and the Torah is truth.” The word Emes, truth, is a part of our Torah lexicon.

The last three letters of the first words of the Torah, “Bereishis bara Elokim,” spell out the word ‘Emes.’ The Or Hachaim asks, why is the word ‘Emes’ spelled out at the end of these words as opposed to the beginning? The answer is that two types of things happen to us on a daily basis – good things, and things which we perceive as not good. The good things we appreciate right away. On the other hand, the not so good things, they can bring us down. But, in fact, everything which occurs to us is good, and at the end it will be revealed that it was for the good. Not right away, not at the beginning. At first it will seem not so good. However, at the end, in hindsight, we will see that Hashem had a plan in mind and it was for our good. Therefore, ‘Emes’ is hinted to at the end of the letters.

Take a moment and appreciate that everything Hashem does is for the best. Ask your family this question. What are some ways we can appreciate that everything Hashem does is for our very best? And then listen carefully and take those words to heart.

Mr. Harry Rothenberg
Happy Wife, Wealthy Husband

Rava once gave advice to those who lived in the city of Mechoza: Honor your wife, so you will become wealthy (Bava Metzia 59a). Why did Rava tell them that he should honor their wives so they will become wealthy instead of saying that they should honor their wives because it is the right thing to do?

I remember how I sat my sons down before they got married and told them that until this point, the most important people have been their mother and father. But now, the most important person will be their wife. Before my daughters got married, I prayed that my future sons-in-laws would take good care of them.

Perhaps Rava felt that if he would merely say that honoring your wife is the right thing to do, it would resonate, but not to the same degree when he would say that the benefit would be wealth. But, even so, the bigger question is what connection is there between honoring your wife and becoming wealthy?

When we finish the Torah, we start it again. Early on in the Torah, the Snake convinces Chava to eat from the Eitz Ha’Daas, who in turn convinces Adam. The consequences are enumerated in the Torah, which are truly consequences to all men, women and snakes for all of time. In this scenario, Adam honored his wife by listening to her, who wished for him to eat from the fruit. As a result, Hashem lessened Adam’s consequence by saying that I will grant you wealth. When you work, you will become wealthy. You honored your wife, and therefore although you must receive a consequence, it will result in wealthy. Hence, you honored your wife… you will be wealthy.

Hashem is exact in every measure. He rewards us for how we treat each other; not just how we relate to Him.

Rabbi Eliezer Abish
Scary Sarcasm

We find that Hashem takes Adam and Chava and tells them that they can eat from every tree except the Eitz Ha’Daas. The Torah then says that the snake was more cunning than any other animal and said to Chava, “Did Hashem say not to eat from any tree in the garden?” Rashi explains that the snake’s intent was to draw Chava into a conversation and then he would get her to eat from the Eitz Ha’Daas.

The Chiddushei HaRim explains these words, “Even though Hashem said…” as the snake being sarcastic. He was saying, “So what if Hashem told you not to eat from it? Big deal!” This is why the snake was the most cunning because he knew how to get somebody, he knew how to sever someone from a relationship with Hashem. And that would be through being sarcastic and derisive. And that is the meaning of the Pasuk. And indeed, the snake was successful. How careful we must be to stay away from people who are sarcastic.

In the last year of the life of Rav Elyashiv zt”l, he was sitting in the Sukkah with his children and grandchildren, and they were going through a certain halacha, and one of the children related the opinion of Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook. One of the grandchildren then said, “Okay, so big deal? What does that have to do with us?” Rav Elyashiv then asked the grandson, “What did you say?” The grandson repeated what he had said.

Rav Elyashiv, so uncharacteristically, said to his grandson, “Go out of my sukkah.” His family had never seen him act this way before. Rav Elyashiv could not stand that someone would have such a sarcastic way of speaking about a tzaddik this way.

The grandson then went outside to the front steps and started crying, realizing what he had done. And then he went to the shul Tiferes Bachurim, which his grandfather was involved in. After his grandfather, Rav Elyashiv zt”l passed away, and the uncles and family took over, this grandson established a night seder Kollel where people would learn the halacha seforim of Rav Kook in order to make up for what he did.

That is the power and the danger of a sarcastic comment.

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