Overview of the Weekly Reading: Noach
To be read on 6 Mar Cheshvan 5763 (Oct.12)
Torah: Genesis 6:9-11:32
Haftorah: Isaiah. 54:1-55:5 (which mentions "the waters of Noach")
2nd out of 12 in Genesis, contains 0 positive mitzvot and 0
It is written on 230 lines in a parchment Torah
scroll, 4th out of 54 in overall length.
G-d told Noach that the
world was filled with perversion and He wished to destroy it through a flood.
He ordered Noach to build an ark, promising to save him and his family. He also
told him to bring into the ark seven pairs of every clean animal and two pairs
of every unclean animal, and seven pairs of every bird, as well as food for his
family and for the animals. It rained for 40 days and nights, and all was destroyed.
The water remained for a year. G-d then commanded Noach to leave the ark, and
promised that He would never again cause such mass destruction by flood on earth.
Noach offers sacrifices from the clean species. G-d placed a rainbow in the sky
as a sign of this covenant. As a result of an unpleasant incident, Noach cursed
his son Cham, whose son was Canaan, that he would always be slave to his brothers.
Noach died at the age of 950. The Parsha then chronicles the generations of Noach's
sons. The earth had one language, and the people decided to build a tower to heaven.
G-d saw this, and made the people speak different languages so that they could
not understand each other. He then scattered them across the world. The chronicle
of generations continues through to Avram, who married Sarai. They settled in
FROM THE CHASSIDIC REBBES (V:02-63
sent forth a dove." (8:8)
Where did it fly? To the land of Israel,
which had not been inundated by the great Flood. The Jewish people is likened
to a dove. Banished and exiled over the face of the earth, the Jew's heart is
nonetheless always drawn to the Holy Land, the land of Israel.
"I have set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign
of My covenant between Me and the earth...and I will remember My covenant."
Before the Flood, the clouds in the sky were thick and dense, obscuring
the light of the sun. The Flood, which cleansed and purified the earth, also refined
the clouds and made it possible for the rainbow to be observed, a phenomenon caused
by the sun's rays. The rainbow, a product of the process of purification, is therefore
symbolic of the Final Redemption, which will come about through the refinement
and elevation of the physical world, as stated in the Zohar: "When
a rainbow appears with its shining multicolored hues -- await the arrival of Moshiach."
A MYSTICAL CHASSIDIC
FROM THE MASTERS OF KABBALAH (H:02-63
Selected with permission and adapted from the three-volume English
edition of Shney Luchot
HaBrit -- the Sh'lah,
as translated, condensed, and
annotated by Eliyahu Munk.
Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (1565-1630), known
as the 'Sh'lah' - an acronym of the title, was born in Prague. A scholar of outstanding
reputation, he served as chief Rabbi of Cracow, and more famously, of Frankfort
(1610-1620). After his first wife passed away, he remarried and moved to Israel
in 1621, where he became the first Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Jerusalem. He later
moved to Tiberias, where he is buried, near the tomb of the Rambam.
Let us understand the difference between Genesis 6:1, Noach walked with
the Lord, and Genesis 24:40 when Abraham describes himself, G-d before
Whom I walked. Noach needed G-d to hold his hand, so to speak,
whereas Abraham was self-propelled, took the initiative. Noach was afraid to mix
with the corrupt society he lived in and isolated himself with only G-d as his
companion because he was afraid of the possible influence on him of contemporary
society. Abraham was not only confident that he would not succumb to the corrupt
society around him, but he tried to lead his fellow-men back to the path of monotheism
and a life of good deeds. This is the plain meaning of those verses. I have elaborated
on this elsewhere.
According to the path we generally follow, it will be
shown that Noachs strength was not as great as Abrahams in other matters.
Abraham had awakened himself to recognize and serve his Creator. As
a result he received considerable input from the Holy Spirit. This is what is
meant when I said that rapprochement to G-d must proceed from the bottom
up, i.e. man must be the initiator. Noach, on the other hand, relied on
Divine inspiration to be the first step. Walking with G-d means after G-d had
inspired him first. The awakening came from Above.
essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent
One of the more amazing
mystical concepts emphasized in Judaism in general and in Chassidic philosophy
in particular is the idea of Hashgacha Pratit, Divine providence. Divine providence
refers to the direct involvement of G-d in every individual detail in His creation.
The question is how much? Is every occurrence that we experience a vessel for
Divinity, literally G-d communicating to us, or perhaps only the 'major things'?
The Baal Shem Tov taught that every single event in the world, even a leaf
falling from a tree, is a divine event and has some revealed or hidden teaching
and purpose to it. We have a very interesting example of this in this week's Torah
After the flood, one of the first things Noach did was to plant
a vineyard. Upon harvesting the grapes he made wine, drank and became drunk. The
verse says (9/22), "He was uncovered in his tent." The Torah
continues, saying that Ham, the father of Canaan, Noach youngest son, saw his
father's nakedness and told his two brothers who were outside. Ham's older brothers,
Shem and Yafet, then took a garment, "went in backwards and covered their
father's nakedness, their faces turned backwards, and they did not see their father's
nakedness". Twice the Torah states that they turned backwards. What additional
insight is the Torah providing us by repeating that the two sons did not see their
The Baal Shem Tov explains that
when a person sees something negative in another person, this is really an indication
that some part of that evil is in him-or something resembling that evil on even
a very minute level. The other person is merely functioning as a mirror. A person
whose face is clean sees no blemish in the mirror. Something inappropriate is
only a reflection of a problem in ourselves. The reason someone is shown the negative
trait is to be moved by the coarseness of it, to identify it in oneself and to
fix it in one's own soul.
But wait! Maybe the reason we are shown this negative
thing is in order to help the other person improve. This could also be Divine
providence and more so, we have a commandment from the Torah to reprimand a person
if it will help him change.
The answer is that if the motivation of our
seeing the negative was to help the other person change, we would not have judged
the badness as something integral to that person, rather just as something to
fix--like a stain on someone's clothing; the emphasis would be on the fixing.
The fact that the other person was seen in a negative light and that we were repulsed
by that person is proof that on some level, however minute, this evil exists in
ourselves. This is why the verse states only about Ham that, "He saw his
father's nakedness." Since Ham was immoral, it resonated in him. On the
other hand, the other sons, who were clean from this evil, only saw what needed
to be fixed, and "they did not see their father's nakedness."
Jew must see only the good in others. If they have something that needs fixing,
we have to see it only as an opportunity to help-and not conclude that the other
person is bad. Certainly, we should not mention the negativity to others, as Ham
did! If, however, our perception is that the person is evil, we should seek to
correct ourselves. If we follow this teaching, we will be a vessel for personal
truth and will constantly progress in our Torah lives bringing the redemption
Shabbat Shalom, Shaul Leiter