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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Noach

Parshat Noach

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Noach                                                                              Print Version
4 Cheshvan, 5783 | October 29, 2022

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rebbetzin Chaya Sora Gertzulin
Over the Rainbow

“He was named Noach, saying this one will ease our work, and bring us rest from the toil of our hands….” (Bereishis 5:29)

Parents have dreams and aspirations for their children. Some hope their children will become Torah scholars, sharing wisdom with many. Others dream their children will become physicians, and bring healing to the ill and suffering. And, yet others wish to see their children bring justice to the world.

Noach’s parents prayed that their son be the one to bring an end to the backbreaking labor needed to work the field, allowing them and others to experience peace of mind, body and soul.

Chazal teach that there is a name-soul connection. For the name is the essence of the soul. In fact, the middle two letters of the Hebrew word neshamah are shin and mem, spelling shem – name. When parents name a child, they are gifted nevuah - prophecy. The meaning of a name, or after whom a child is named, is reflected in the child’s potential.

True to his name, Noach, meaning rest and comfort, made life easier for the people of his generation. Rashi teaches that Noach was the world’s first inventor, creating basic farming tools. Until then, all fieldwork was painstakingly done by hand. From planting seeds, to pulling weeds, to harvesting a field, farming was a slow and difficult process.

Noach’s inventions allowed his generation more free time – but free time to do what? To do acts of kindness with others? To grow spiritually and connect to HaShem?

None of the above.

“Vatimoleh ha’aretz chomos… and the land had become filled with theft and fraud. And HaShem saw the earth, and it was corrupt… The end of all living being is before Me.” (Bereishis 6:11-13)

In the ten generations from Adam to Noach, the people descended to the lowest of the low. The very moral fiber of society was destroyed. There was a total lack of respect. A disregard for another’s possessions. Dishonesty, injustice and immorality became the new norm.

Furthermore, there was a lack of achdus, unity. Family members did not speak with one another, and discord was rampant amongst man and his fellow. How painful it is for parents to see their children not getting along with each other. We can’t even begin to imagine HaShem’s pain, upon seeing His children quarreling amongst themselves.

It was a world of chaos and anarchy. It was time to rebuild a new world. A world based on honesty, truthfulness, justice, respect and chesed.

It is with this backdrop that the parshah opens.

“Eileh toldos Noach, These are the generations of Noach. Noach ish tzaddik, Noach was a righteous man, tamim hoyoh b’dorosav, pure and wholehearted in his generation, es haElokim hishalech Noach, Noach walked with HaShem.” (Bereishis 6:9)

The generations of Noach. One would think the passage would recall Noach’s three sons, his descendants and their families. Yet, it is Noach’s good deeds that are mentioned. Rashi expounds, “zecher tzaddik livrachah, the memory of a tzaddik, a righteous person should be for a blessing”. (Mishlei 10:7). Furthermore, by attributing these qualities to Noach, the Torah is teaching us that “the primary offspring of tzaddikim are their good deeds” (Midrash Tanchumah).

This teaches us that a person’s actions are his legacy.

We must ask ourselves: “How will I be remembered? What recollections will my family, friends and community have? What enduring goodness did I contribute to the world?”

Noach was a tzaddik. He stood up to the world around him. He chose to be different, and walked with HaShem. Noach 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 business deal. I will not participate in that conversation, and no thanks – that entertainment and life-style is not for me.”

Noach was his own person, and defied the world around him. “Everyone’s doing it” was not part of his jargon. At times, it must have been a lonely battle. “Noach walked with HaShem.” But he was never alone, for HaShem was his “walking partner”.

Standing up for one’s beliefs and principles is what makes an ordinary man “extra”-ordinary. What earns him the title of tzaddik. HaShem told Noach of the impending mabul, flood that would bring destruction upon the world, and directed Noach to build a teivah, an ark.

Noach hammered away, building an ark of epic proportions. A three-floored structure, the top level reserved for family, the second for a menagerie of animals, from large elephants and tall giraffes, to fierce lions and even the tiniest of insects, with the lower level for refuse.

While it rained for forty days, it took a full year for the waters to subside, and for Noach to be able to exit the teivah to dry land. One year of being the world’s “busiest zookeeper”, on call morning through night, never taking a break. Life in the ark was “chesed boot-camp”.

Noach and his family exited the ark changed people. They left the teivah with a new understanding of selfless giving.

“My rainbow that I set on the clouds, should be a sign, a covenant between Me and all that are upon the earth.” (Bereishis 9:13)

After the deluge, a rainbow. Why a rainbow?

When we look at a rainbow, we see a beautiful spectrum of colors. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet. Only HaShem, with His mastery, could create something so wondrous.

The generation of the mabul was one that lived for themselves – “What’s in it for me”, was their only concern. It was a generation that didn’t give of their time, lend a helping hand or grant a listening ear. It was a time of total apathy.

The sefer Otzar Chaim, written by Rabbi Chaim Yaakov Zuckerman (1895-1971) explains that the rainbow symbolizes unity. Different colors, yet blending together as one. To show achrayus, responsibility towards one another. Within the word achrayus is acher, someone else. That’s what it’s all about. To show responsibility to others.

This is the takeaway. All HaShem wants is our achdus, our unity. To display tolerance and respect. To make our world one of peace and harmony. When we see a rainbow, let it be a reminder that although we may be different from one another, we are one people, an Am Echad.

Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein zt”l
The Gift of Shabbos

Michael truly was in love with Devorah. He had gotten married years ago, and in a waking moment of heartfelt affection for her as he stared into her eyes one morning, he knew what he would do.

Michael walked straight up to the man behind the counter. “I have several options…” the jeweler replied, his voice trailing off, as he began opening the glass-plated sliding door and showing Michael several varied beauties, as anyone would instantly admit.

Michael’s eyes widened, as he spotted a deep-blue diamond, its glisten almost looking as if smiling back at him. Rubies, sapphires and pearls were set beside, varied in size, but all elegant in hue and polish. But then the dealer paused, muting his running commentary, and turned aside. He seemed, at least to Michael’s eyes and ears, as if he had something to add.

“I think I have something you’ll like,” the dealer said, giving way to a smile. It must have been forty-five seconds or so before Michael mouthed aloud, “I’ve never seen anything like it.” It was pear-shaped, limpid and varicolored. It didn’t look entirely like a diamond, ruby, sapphire or even pearl for that matter. It combined them all into one flawless gem that sparkled with impeccable beauty. A priceless resemblance to his wife.

The steep price didn’t discourage Michael from the purchase. In fact, it only made him well up with pride and pleasure. Just thinking about his lovely wife did that, and now, with this newest addition, those emotions were purer than ever.

From that point on, everything proceeded smoothly. Michael returned home, noticeably early, his wife welcoming the surprise with her own hug and smile. When out of sight, Michael arranged everything as he had planned on the dining room table. And then he waited, moseying around in the living room while shuffling through some work, positioning himself to catch the exhilaration that was sure to overwhelm his wife.

She was carrying a load of clothing when she spotted it. She paused, looking seemingly certain that it was some Shabbos decorative item that had been left behind. But a closer look left her curiously wondering. It was something wrapped and new. Not a Shabbos decoration.

Devorah’s hands passed over the white satin ribbon overlaying the box. Now she had figured it out, smiled Michael. This was the moment Michael had been awaiting. Devorah gracefully picked up the ring, and held it, close enough for her eyes to take in all the mesmerizing shades of beauty it was made out to be.

Suddenly then, amidst Michael’s grinning smile, Devorah turned around. Their eyes met, though quickly, Michael shifted his gaze to the floor, his mind needing a momentary reset to bring him into focus amid the thrilling moment.

When he came back with a smile to his wife, it was not met in return.

Devorah looked irate. And then, it happened. Michael would not remember how. It was too painful to recall in detail.

All Michael knew is that the ring went from Devorah’s hands to the dark-brown wood floor with a crashing shatter. Thrown down and broken into hundreds of pieces. Her seething fury left unexplained, she walked away, as Michael coiled with shock. He could have sworn he was daydreaming, except he wasn’t. It was real.

The ring he had spent more than money, but his heart on, lay scattered on the floor. Shattered by the woman he had done it all for.

A tragic story. But a familiar one.

The Giving of the Torah was a moment when heaven and earth embraced in marriage between God and us, the Jewish people. The wedding ring accompanying the ceremony were the two Luchos, made of chiseled sapphire. And as with every wedding, following the chuppa, the bridal canopy under which the binding matrimony occurs, there was a period of yichud, seclusion; those first few special moments of experiencing each other as husband and wife.

The Midrash relates that God approached the angels and asked, “What shall I give my beautiful wife in the yichud room?” It was then God Himself who provided the answer. “In My treasure house, there lies the most precious item in the world … and Shabbos is its name.”

The most precious gift God has in the world is Shabbos, and He wanted to give to us. The angels protested, claiming that it would be a disgrace to grant something so cherished to man. “Shabbos belongs only in the Heavens!” they argued. But God gifted us Shabbos, His most precious treasure of all.

Yet, within the basking glory of this momentous marriage, we faltered. We exchanged our marriage with God for the Golden Calf, and shattered the relationship, mirrored by Moshe Rabbeinu shattering the Luchos, our precious wedding ring, into pieces. A tragedy of profound measure.

Yet with our return to God and acceptance of the Second Luchos, our relationship was reset. Our love was restored. And Shabbos, as our unique, binding connection to God, remained.

The test of time has proven this true, with Jews in every century and every country, risking their lives and livelihood to observe the precious beauty of Shabbos.

But there is more.

In these days nearing Mashiach, there is an overabundance of allures pulling us in every direction. We have enticing temptations, with promises of pleasure and fun, all baiting us to drown ourselves in sin. Within these surrounding challenges, there exists deep-seated taava, an attractive pull, that whispers to us the benefits we will immediately gain. It is that very seductive whisper which is our downfall.

When it comes to Shabbos, however, the whisper is much fainter, if not silent. And that is because Shabbos is different from all else. God tells us that Shabbos is to be a day of extraordinary enjoyment. We are to eat delicious foods, sing beautiful hymns, learn through the commentaries on the Torah and give our bodies much-needed rest.

The Satan has great difficulty convincing us to violate Shabbos, and that is because there is no inherent taava to do so. There is no taava to not follow through in partaking of the phenomenal benefits of Shabbos. Keeping to other Jewish values and laws may pose difficulty, but when it comes to Shabbos, it is something special that we keep close to our heart and never wish to let out of our reach.

In a word, it is our identity. As observant Jews, we are known as those who are “Shomer Shabbos,” those who keep Shabbos. That is who we are at our core. And that is because Shabbos is the glorious gem God gave us in our yichud room and what will forever bind us to Him.

Shabbos will forever represent our intimate relationship with God, and it is reflected in the beautiful, colorful and dynamic nature of the day.

We keep Shabbos, and Shabbos keeps us. Hold onto it. It is the most exquisite jewel which connects us to our Husband, to God. There is nothing more beautiful than that.

Rabbi Label Lam
Many from One

When entering the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, there's a large heavy door with these words emblazoned there: E pluribus unum, from many, one. And while I can appreciate the sentiment that a large aggregate of people can act with a unified sense of purpose, unfortunately, it reminds me of the harsh realities of the Jewish experience in the last generation in Europe and the United States. From many, we are left with just one. Noach. I prefer E unum pluribus, from one comes many. The Navi says that Avraham was one. Not only was he unique, but from that one individual, a new nation was born.

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