Weekly Reading Insights: Noach 5764



Overview of the Weekly Reading: Noach

To be read on 6 Cheshvan 5764 (Nov. 1)

Noach is the 2nd Reading out of 12 in Genesis and 2nd overall, and 15th out of 54 in overall length.
Torah: Genesis 6:9-11:32;
Haftorah: Isaiah 54:1-55:5 (which mentions "the waters of Noach")

Pirkei Avot: not till after Passover

G-d told Noach that the world was filled with perversion and He will 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. 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. The Torah 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 chronicles continue through to Avram, who married Sarai. They settled in Charan.


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:02-64/Noach)

Now don't think that [because] Noah and all with him were saved [there must have been judgment mixed with mercy]. He was hidden from sight and not seen [by the destructive powers and therefore was saved].

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:02-64/Noach)

To explain further: The [original] garment of Adam was the light that corresponds to the [aspect of the soul known as] Nefesh. This [light] was like the fourth "shell," which is attached to holiness and is called Noga ["glow"], half of which is from holiness and half of which is from evil. When evil prevails [over it], it becomes wholly evil; when holiness [prevails], the opposite happens.

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From the Shelah, Shney Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (S:02-64/Noach)

We also have a statement by our sages explaining the two different introductions to the psalms "L'Dovid Mizmor" and "Mizmor L'Dovid". In the former, the Divine Inspiration came to David only after he had commenced to play the harp, whereas the words "Mizmor L'Dovid" indicate that the Divine Inspiration overcame David even before he commenced playing the harp (Pesachim 117). "L'Dovid Mizmor" represents the highest spiritual achievement of man, seeing that he initiates his spiritual achievement. If man only responds to an "injection" of Divine Inspiration, the achievement is of a lower order.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.


"Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood." (6:14)
If the purpose of the ark was "to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth"-to make sure that each animal species continued to propagate-why did G-d instruct Noach to make it "for himself"? Because man's place in the universe is unique and crucial to all of creation. If he conducts himself according to G-d's will, he raises up and elevates the entire world; if not, he drags down the entire planet with him.

(Sefer HaMaamarim 5699) (from L'Chaim #540)

"Behold, I Myself bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh." (6:17)
If the intention of the Flood was only to destroy evildoers, surely G-d could have gotten rid of them in some other way. Rather, the purpose of the Flood was to purify the world from the uncleanliness of that generation's corruption. The Midrash explains that the verse in Ezekiel (22:24) - "You are the land that is not cleansed, nor rained upon in the day of indignation" - refers to the Land of Israel, which remained untouched by the Flood. This is textual proof that the true purpose of the Flood was spiritual purification.

(Torah Ohr) (from L'Chaim #589)


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:02-64/Noach )

This week's entire Torah portion is connected to Noach's ark. Rashi, the main commentator, asks why G-d commanded Noach to trouble himself with such a massive task and answers that its purpose was to encourage the many wrong doers at that time. When they would see Noach building the ark and they would ask what he is doing and would hear that there would be a flood, perhaps they would do teshuvah -return to the proper spiritual path.

But it is not so simple. Wouldn't it have been enough for Noach to go out and campaign for their teshuvah? Why was the ark necessary? And even if he did build the ark, what about those individuals who lived far away who would never see it, what benefit would they derive?

The Imrei Melech suggests that we can learn the answer from the following story. Reb Zusha of Anipoli was once visiting his Rebbe, the Magid of Mezrich, when a certain man came in to ask for assistance. With a blast of spiritual insight, Reb Zusha saw that this person was a big sinner and he had no intention of correcting his negative acts. He became enraged that such a person would have the audacity to place himself before such a holy man as the Magid. In his rage he shouted at him, enumerated his sins publicly, and rebuked him for disgracing the sanctity of the magid. Nevertheless, within a short time, Reb Zushe severely regretted his actions and the Magid blessed he that he should no longer see bad in Jewish people. This is not understood. Isn't it better that a tzadik be upset by the negative traits in people so they can rebuke them earnestly and get them back on the right path? In fact this was even the modus operandi of Reb Zusha and his saintly brother Reb Elimelech who would travel from Jewish community to community, with just that purpose, to get people to do teshuvah?

The answer is: Every Jewish person is basically good, only sometimes the good is covered externally and the individual does not have the power to overcome the evil that controls him. How do we help them? With some people, rebuking them succeeds in shaking them up and then, with some introspection, they are able to get back on the right track. Unfortunately there are others who are so far off track, so calloused to the words of others, that rebuking does not help. With these people only love and kindness can do the trick, strengthening their innermost point of their heart and bringing them to regret their evil actions.
The person that came to the Magid was of this latter type where harsh words would not help at all, and when Reb Zushe realized this, he regretted his actions and would not be consoled until the Magid blessed him that he would not see evil in this (latter) type of person.

Now we can understand the purpose of the building of the ark. The generation that lived just before the flood was also like the latter individuals who were filled with so much evil that rebuke did not help. The divine command to build the ark was a subtle and suggestive technique to arouse them to do teshuvah. This is one meaning of what the Zohar (Parshas Noach) says, that the ark was like the supernal mother who was able to dig into the inner part of the heart of even her far away children. (from Beor Hachasidus).

One lesson Noach's Ark teaches us is that however justified we may think we are in how we address others, it is still crucial to pause and consider if this will in fact be the best course of action. And certainly when all the Jewish people treat each other in a respectful way, this will hasten the arrival of Mashiach.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul Leiter

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