Torah Weekly - Parshat Noach
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It is ten generations since the creation of the first human. Adam's descendants have corrupted the world with immorality, idolatry and robbery, and Hashem resolves to bring a flood which will destroy all the earth's inhabitants except for the righteous Noach, his family and sufficient animals to re-populate the earth. Hashem instructs Noach to build an ark. After forty days and nights, the flood covers even the tops of the highest mountains. After 150 days the water starts to recede. On the 17th day of the 7th month, the ark comes to rest on Mount Ararat. Noach sends out a raven and then a dove to ascertain if the waters have abated. The dove returns. A week later Noach again sends the dove, which returns the same evening with an olive leaf in its beak. After another seven days Noach sends the dove once more; the dove does not return. Hashem tells Noach and his family to leave the ark. Noach brings offerings to Hashem from the animals which were carried in the ark for this purpose. Hashem vows never again to flood the entire world and designates the rainbow as a sign of this covenant. Noach and his descendants are now permitted to slaughter and eat meat, unlike Adam. Hashem commands the Seven Universal Laws: The prohibition against idolatry, adultery, theft, blasphemy, murder, eating meat torn from a live animal, and the obligation to set up a legal system. The world's climate is established as we know it today. Noach plants a vineyard and becomes intoxicated from its produce. Ham, one of Noach's sons, delights in seeing his father drunk and uncovered. Shem and Yafet, however, manage to cover their father without looking at his nakedness, by walking backwards. For this incident, Canaan is cursed to be a slave. The Torah lists the offspring of Noach's three sons from whom the seventy nations of the world are descended. The Torah records the incident of the Tower of Bavel, which results in Hashem fragmenting communication into many languages and the dispersal of the nations throughout the world. The Parsha concludes with the genealogy of Noach to Avram.
A WINDOW ON THE WORLD
"A window you shall make for the ark..." (6:16)
As any real estate agent will tell you, the three fundamentals of real estate are: Location, location, location.
One of the things you can't change about a property is the view. A room with a view is a precious jewel.
When G-d instructed Noach to build the ark, He included specific instructions to include a tzohar. Tzohar has two possible meanings. It can mean either a "precious stone" or a "window." A precious stone might fill the ark with a beautiful light as the sun's rays were refracted, bathing the inside of the ark with a multicolored glow. A precious stone is to let the light in. A window, on the other hand, is for looking out. But what were they supposed to look out at? An empty waterscape of gray in every direction?
G-d wanted Noach to have a window on the world to see the world's destruction and have a feeling of pity.
In life, it's easy to think if I'm okay -- the world's okay. Life's biggest jewel is to look out of our own arks and take up the yoke and the heartaches of others.
- Rashi, Rabbi Rafael Stephansky
In this week's Parsha G-d promises never to bring another flood to destroy the world; so, too, the haftara carries G-d's promise never to exile the Jewish People after the redemption from the current Exile of Edom.
The Parsha depicts the terrible flood which destroys the earth and its myriad creatures. It looks like the end, but it is, in reality, the beginning. Out of the ashes of a degenerate world sprouts the seed of Noach.
Similarly, the destruction of the first Beit Hamikdash and the Jewish People's dispersal were like a "flood" which seemed a total disaster.
The Prophet Isaiah tells that, rather than the ruin of the nation, this was its preservation, and like a mother left lonely and grieving, Zion will be comforted when the exile has achieved its appointed task of purification, and her children return to her.
Selections from classical Torah sources
which express the special relationship between
the People of Israel and Eretz Yisrael
This Biblical city was built by Omri, King of Israel, on Mount Shomron which he purchased from Shemer and named after him (Melachim I 16:24). Although Omri "did evil in the eyes of Hashem," our Sages point out that his good deed in adding a city to Eretz Yisrael gained for him the distinction of being the first of the rulers of the Kingdom of Israel to be succeeded to the throne by both his son and grandson (Sanhedrin 72b).
Written and Compiled by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair
General Editor: Rabbi Moshe Newman
Production Design: Michael Treblow
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