• Dvar for Noach (Genesis 6:9-11:32)

    Parshat Noach has G-d proclaiming Noach as being both a “Tzaddik” (righteous), and “Tamim” (perfect). What’s tricky about that is that the term “Tzaddik” denotes a person that’s been accused of something and has been proclaimed righteous, while the term “Tamim”  describes a person that required no defense or exoneration. So which one was Noach?

    In “Darash Moshe”, Rav Moshe Feinstein explains that if you’re an individual, working on yourself and no one else, your goal should be to perfect your actions and in using the guidelines of the Torah to achieve that perfection. However, if you’re a leader, or in a position to influence others, many times that involves saying or doing things that can sometimes lead to allegations and accusations. For this reason, many people would rather stay away from communal affairs and lead a quiet life. However, G-d told Noach and us that although Noach could have kept to himself and become perfect, He preferred that he and we stand up for the Torah, even if it means facing opponents as a result. The biggest scholars of our past weren’t known as Tamim, but as Tzaddikim (righteous people), because they stood for something. And the best way for us to achieve this goal is to find ONE Mitzvah (consider reading Guard Your Toungue, learning an Aliya a day, outreach, supporting underprivileged and/or abused women and children, etc,) that we’re willing to embrace and stand up for. By becoming a “mini-Tzaddik” in one aspect, may we grow in rank, and one day become Tamim (perfect) Jews.

  • Dvar for Noach (Genesis 6:9-11:32)

    In Parshat Noach, the Torah introduces the episode of the building of the Tower of Bavel with a description of the building materials which were used. Rashi comments that since Bavel was a plain, having no mountains and rocks, the inhabitants of the area were forced to manufacture their own bricks. Of what significance is this information to the overall understanding of the entire episode?

    Rashi comments on the verse “of common purpose” that the inhabitants of Bavel conspired against the notion that G-d is the sole power over the entire universe. It was their perception that the world was theirs, devoid of Divine authority, and they conspired to attack the authority that resided in the heavens. The reason for the emphasis on the brick being used as a building material is succinctly captured by the Ibn Ezra who comments on the verse “and the brick served them as stone”, saying that they used bricks instead of stone. Their preference for bricks reflected their perception that they were living in a world which they themselves created (when a person bakes bricks, using them to construct his home, they may have the feeling that their abode is separate from G-d, for they themselves have processed the materials used to construct it). They deluded themselves into believing that G-d no longer exercised His authority over this world.

    All too often, we ourselves become blinded by mankind’s technological advancements. As man progresses in his technological pursuits, he becomes more prone to losing sight of the fact that G-d is the ultimate authority in this world.

  • Dvar for Noach (Genesis 6:9-11:32)

    Parshat Noach has G-d proclaiming Noach as being both a “Tzaddik” (righteous), and “Tamim” (perfect). What’s tricky about that is that the term “Tzaddik” denotes a person that’s been accused of something and has been proclaimed righteous, while the term “Tamim”  describes a person that required no defense or exoneration. So which one was Noach?

    In “Darash Moshe”, Rav Moshe Feinstein explains that if you’re an individual, working on yourself and no one else, your goal should be to perfect your actions and in using the guidelines of the Torah to achieve that perfection. However, if you’re a leader, or in a position to influence others, many times that involves saying or doing things that can sometimes lead to allegations and accusations. For this reason, many people would rather stay away from communal affairs, and lead a quiet life. However, G-d told Noach and us that although Noach could have kept to himself and become perfect, He preferred that we stand up for the Torah even if it means facing opponents because of it. The biggest scholars of our past weren’t known as Tamim, but as Tzaddikim (righteous people), because they stood for something. And the best way for us to achieve this goal is to find ONE Mitzvah (consider reading Guard Your Toungue, learning an Aliya a day, outreach,supporting underprivileged and/or abused women and children, etc,) that we’re willing to embrace and stand up for. By becoming a “mini-Tzaddik” in this one aspect, may we grow in rank, and one day become Tamim (perfect) Jews.

  • Daily Aliya for Noach, Shvii (7th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: This Aliya recounts the story of the Tower of Babel. Noach’s descendants gathered in the Babylonian valley and started building a tower, in an attempt to reach the heavens and battle G‑d. G‑d disrupted their “plan” by causing them each to speak a different language, thus destroying their communications. This caused them to disperse and settle in different lands. The Torah then lists the ten generations of Shem’s descendants. The tenth generation is Abram (later to be known as Abraham), who married Sarai (later to be known as Sarah).

    Commentaries contrast the two sinful generations in this Parsha. Dor HaMabul (floor generation) was destroyed because their sins included the destruction of society by total disregard of a person for his fellow. Dor HaPlaga (tower generation) sinned against G-d alone, not against each other. In both cases, the basic tenets of creation were ignored, and it documented for us to learn from.

  • Daily Aliya for Noach, Shishi (6th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Noach planted a vineyard, made wine, became drunk and fell into a deep drunken slumber — while naked. Noach’s son, Cham, saw his father naked, assaulted him, and informed his two brothers of their father’s state. The brothers, Shem and Yafet, modestly approached their father and covered him. When Noach awakened, he cursed Cham’s son, Canaan, and blessed Shem and Yafet. This section then names Noach’s seventy grandsons and great-grandsons, the antecedents of the “seventy nations,” and their adopted homelands.

    There are at least five different periods during which nature did not behave as we know it today:

    (1) The “time” before this world – previous worlds, assuming they existed, did not necessarily have the same laws of nature; (2) the indeterminable time of B’reishit – G-d’s act of Creation of something from nothing; (3) the Six Days of Creation, during which G-d commanded things to happen, no doubt in very different ways from the nature He also created; (4) the first 1656 years of this world, throughout the ten generations from Adam to Noach, when the laws of nature also seem to differ from what we experience today, (5) the “year” of the Flood. These “lapses” in the Rules of Nature can explain a variety of scientific issues related to time and the age of the earth… and everything in it.

  • Daily Aliya for Noach, Chamishi (5th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: G‑d told Noach that he is establishing a covenant to never again bring a flood to destroy the world. G‑d designated the rainbow as the sign of this covenant: “And it shall come to pass, when I cause clouds to come upon the earth, that the rainbow will appear in the cloud. And I will remember My covenant…”

    Although rainbows can be explained by science, there’s something so mercurial about them, and that lends itself to help bridge an understanding between G-d and all “flesh”, as the Torah describes it. It’s not something abstract, requires no understanding, it just needs to be seen to be understood. It’s a fickle combination of colors, designed to make us stop what we’re doing, look up, and hopefully remember a covenant that G-d made with us. Of course if G-d wanted to get rid of us there are many other ways, but the point is that we have an unbreakable bond with Him, and the gentle rainbow is meant to remind us of that, so we stop what we’re doing, look up high, and hopefully start thinking even higher.

  • Daily Aliya for Noach, Revii (4th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: G‑d commanded Noach to leave the teivah, along with all his fellow teivah-mates. Noach built an altar and offered sacrifices. This pleased G‑d, who then promised to never again curse the earth as He had just done. Instead, the regular seasons (which had not functioned during the year of the mabul) would continue perpetually. G‑d then blessed Noach and his sons: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” G‑d allowed mankind to eat meat, but prohibited murder, suicide, and the consumption of a limb ripped from a living animal.

    What changed? Now that G-d enacted a “do-over”, the changes are that there will now be seasons, basic laws must be followed, and man must procreate. The theme? Structure. Without rules and structure everything falls apart, and seasons and basic laws help facilitate a natural order of things. And having kids? Not only is having children a structured event, but raising them requires even more structure and discipline. Only after we work out our own issues by dealing with seasons and laws, we can then continue to bring new life to the world.

  • Daily Aliya for Noach, Shlishi (3rd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: The torrential rains lasted for forty days and nights. The waters rose to great heights and covered even the highest mountains, killing all humans and animals; everything died aside for Noach and the other occupants of the teivah. After the waters raged on the earth another 150 days, G‑d caused the waters to subside. The teivah eventually rested on the Ararat Mountains, and shortly thereafter the mountain peaks came into view. Noach opened the window of the teivah and dispatched birds to see whether it was time to leave the teivah. First he sent a raven, which refused to execute its mission and just circled the ark. He then sent out a dove. On its second attempt the dove went and did not return, signaling that the earth was once again habitable. After one full year in the teivah, the earth had dried.

    Commentators explain that G-d’s anger subsided and turned into mercy because of Noach’s prayers. Apparently, prayer has a soothing effect on G-d, something not overlooked by future traditions, but this could have been the seed and blueprint for the prayers that have evolved since.

  • Daily Aliya for Noach, Sheni (2nd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Of kosher animals and birds, Noach was commanded to take seven pairs of each species (as opposed to one pair of all other species). Noach, his family, and the required animals boarded the teivah and the mabul began: “The springs of the great depths burst forth and the windows of the heavens opened.”

    The Talmud (in Pesachim) points to G-d’s instructions to take “Animals that are Tahor (i.e. Kosher) and those that are not Tahor”, as a lesson in speaking with a “clean” language, i.e. not vulgar. The Torah could have used the word TAMEI (unclean) but chose a longer periphrasis to use more pleasant terms. Commentaries ask, if this is so, how come the Torah uses the word TAMEI in many other contexts. The answer is, that when the Torah is setting down Mitzva and Halacha, it must use straightforward terms to avoid any possible confusion. When recounting a story (and for us, whenever possible) it is preferable to use more polite language.

  • Daily Aliya for Noach, Rishon (1st Aliya)

    General Overview: In this week’s reading, Noach, Noach and his family, along with at least one pair of each living creature, survive the Flood by taking refuge in an Ark. The erection of the Tower of Babel angers G‑d, and leads to the dispersal of Noach’s descendants. Abraham and Sarah are born.

    Aliya Summary: While society as a whole descended into a state of anarchy and utter corruption, only Noach remained righteous and faithful to G‑d’s ways. Noach was informed by G‑d that a mabul (“flood”) will soon destroy all of civilization, and only Noach and his immediate family would survive in a teivah (“ark,” boat) that he was to build. G‑d gave Noach the exact dimensions of the teivah he was to build, and commanded Noach to bring along into the teivah specimens of every species of animal and bird to repopulate the world after the mabul, and to stock the boat with food to feed all its inhabitants.

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