Parshat Noach 5776: No’ach and the Avos/Shabbos and the Yomim Tovim

Shalom Friends;

Our Parshat HaShevua No’ach is being sponsored jointly by Moshe & Esther Lindner and family who wish for their children Hotslocha, success and simcha, and by an anonymous co-sponsor and family in honor of those who give over Torah and to Kol Klal Yisrael. Both families are from Ramat Beit Shemesh. To the Lindner family and to our anonymous co-sponsor, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3

Parshat Noach 5776: No’ach and the Avos/Shabbos and the Yomim Tovim

by Moshe Burt

Rabbi Mordechai Katz, in his sefer “L’ilmod U’Lamed” (page 19) outlines man’s generational evolution of moral decline:

There was a span of ten generations between the life of Adam and that of No’ach. Unfortunately, each new generation ‘s acts represented a moral decline from those of the previous one. Mankind seemed to become morally worse and worse. Yet, Hashem refrained from punishing them. He waited, hoping that man would use their Free Will to repent from their wicked ways. Hashem hoped that they would possibly follow the example of the few righteous men and change their ways. However, these few righteous men alone proved unable to stem the tide, and the populace remained cruel and sinful. …

Rebbetzin Shira Smiles, in Torah Tapestries on Parsha No’ach (pages 11-13) relates this moral decline through the loshen “chamas” and notes the two meanings of the word “chamas”: corruption and robbery while discussing an opening posuk of our Parsha (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 6, posuk 13) to explain how man can slide further and further into evil:

“Hashem said to No’ach, The end of all flesh is coming before Me, because the earth has become filled with corruption from before them, and behold I am destroying them with the earth.”

Hashem tells No’ach that because the world is filled with chamas (corruption), a flood will come to wipe out mankind. It is hard to fathom how an entire generation could have lived in Hashem’s pristine world and defiled it with such abandon.

Rebbetzin Smiles goes on to render Rashi’s understanding of “chamas”:

Gezel: robbery.

Robbery is an anti-social and dishonest act. No one can live for long in a society where one’s belongings are not safe, knowing that they can vanish if one turns his back. But does the sin of robbery warrant such a severe punishment…. the destruction of the world?

Rebbetzin Smiles also cites the Slonimer Rebbe who explains:

No’ach’s generation embraced corruption. Corrupt behavior cannot be contained or limited; it always spreads. The act of stealing personal property was only the beginning of the downfall for the people of No’ach’s time. Normally, stealing is accepted as a wrongful act.

However, the more they stole, the more it became accepted. Eventually stealing became the norm and the intrinsic concepts of right and wrong were overturned. When civilization flirts with immorality, intolerable behavior is suddenly tolerated.

So it was in the time of No’ach. When stealing became acceptable, Hashem knew that the seams of the world were on their way to coming apart. He therefore had to destroy the world and start again.

Shem Mishmuel (Sefer Shem Mishmuel, Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski, pages 15-18) makes a fascinating analogy equating No’ach with Shabbos, while the Avos are equated with the Yomim Tovim Festivals (Pesach, Shavu’ot and Succot). Shem Mishmuel cites the opening posuk of our Parsha rendering it:

“No’ach was a perfect tzaddik in his generation” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 6, posuk 9)

It seems that the most common rendering of “Eileh Toldot” is that as rendered in the Artscroll Stone Chumash (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 6, posuk 9, page 31):

“These are the offspring of Noach. No’ach was a righteous man, perfect in his generations…”

But R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z”l, in the New Hirsch Chumash provides a fuller and slightly different rendering of the posuk (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 6, posuk 9) and comments (page 174):

“These are the products of No’ach. No’ach, a righteous man, was morally pure in his times: No’ach walked with G’d.”

“Eileh Toldot” is not immediately followed by enumeration of No’ach’s children… Our Sages (Breish’t Rabbah 30.6) infer from this that the primary “product” of a person, the first yield of his labors, is his own character. This inference applies especially to No’ach…; for in his generation, supreme courage was required to save oneself from the general degeneracy and to preserve the purity of one’s heart. In such a generation, surely “the first and foremost products of the righteous are their good deeds.”

“…A righteous man, morally pure…” These are the character traits… of… No’ach, and which Hashem chose as the basis for a new mankind.

Shem Mishmuel comments on the above citing of our Parsha’s opening posuk:

…No’ach is referred to as “perfect”, whereas Avraham was not… The word “perfect” really refers to milah (circumcision). After milah, one achieves a certain physical perfection that was not present before.

No’ach was born circumcised.

So No’ach was simply more perfect than Avraham in one limited sense. But perhaps there is a much deeper way of explaining… which will enable us to understand this particular difference.

Shem Mishmuel then cites an “enigmatic” [as stated in the sefer] statement from the Zohar HaKadosh:

No’ach is Shabbos. (Tikkunei Zohar, Tikkun 21.54b) (Note: The name of No’ach means “resting”… an important Shabbos concept.)

Tradition tells us that the Shalosh Regalim (Pesach, Shavuot, Succot] corresponds to the three Avos (citing Orach Chaim 417) and that Rosh Chodesh corresponds to Dovid HaMelech (citing Rosh Hashana 25a).

It is well-known from Chassidic literature that Shabbos is the primary, driving force behind all of these festive occasions and that they receive their Kedusha from that of Shabbos.

The distinguishing feature of Shabbos is that it is permanent and unchangeable (citing gemora Chullin 101b). It falls out every seventh day and has done so since creation, without any human intervention. Yom Tov, however, is quite different. In the ideal Jewish society, the Beit Din must proclaim the advent of the new moon. Only then can we know when Rosh Chodesh falls and hence when Yom Tov will be.

This lends a quite different character to Yom Tov, one in which the hand of man is… evident…

In the same vein, we can understand the difference between No’ach and the Avos. No’ach was holy from his earliest life…. He was born circumcised, implying a high level of intrinsic spirituality. However, that is where his spirituality rested — within himself. He spent his life guarding himself from the evil influences of his surroundings and preserving his own surroundings and preserving his own kedusha.

This author thus views the similarity between No’ach and Shabbos as based in No’ach’s milah at birth, an Act of Hashem, and thus not dependent upon human intervention, just as Shabbos was an act of Hashem from Creation. Conversely, the milah of the Avos was dependent upon the human performance of the act of milah, just as Rosh Chodesh, and thus the Yomim Tovim — the Shalosh Regalim were dependent upon the human act of observation of the moon and, accordingly, the Beit Din’s ruling.

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brethren Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two Chayalim from last summer’s Gaza war. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!

Good Shabbos!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.

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