A Student Publication of the Isaac and Mara Benmergui Torah Academy of Bergen County
Parshat Noach            3 Cheshvan 5762              October 20, 2001              Vol.11 No.6

In This Issue:

Rabbi Steven Prebor
Effie Richmond

Yair Manas
Yoni Shenkman

Rabbi Howard Jachter

This week's issue of Kol Torah has been sponsored by Larry and Tova Cohen and Family
in honor of Boaz's Bar Mitzva Parsha.
This issue has also been sponsored by Michael and Susan Richmond and Family
in honor of Effie's Bar Mitzva Parsha.

Crime and Punishment and...

by Rabbi Steven Prebor

The story of the flood in Parshat Noach ends with a very significant, yet perplexing event.  The powerful symbol of the rainbow is accompanied by Hashem’s promise never again to destroy the world with a flood.  Hashem’s promise is comforting, if somewhat troubling.  Of course we are all happy to be rid of this looming threat.  But why does Hashem promise not to repeat it?  Is it because He thinks it is wrong?  But then why would He have brought the flood originally?  And if it was the right thing to do the first time, then it should be appropriate a second or third time.  One might argue that the flood was simply brought to give a message of divine justice, and that there are severe consequences for those who commit crimes.  But how much impact will that message carry if Hashem promises never again to carry out the consequence that were used to teach the lesson?  What would be Hashem’s point in teaching us about divine punishment, only to then remove a major dimension of divine punishment from His repertoire?
Solving this problem might be easier if we change our perspective on the flood.
Parshat Noach is replete with references to Creation.  The receding of the water from the dry land after the flood sounds like the second and third days of Creation.  Noach and his family received a blessing from Hashem that is very similar to the one given to Adam and Chava.  In 9:12, Hashem calls the rainbow אות הברית.  This is reminiscent of the fact that creation culminated with Shabbat, which in Perek 31 of Shemot is referred to as אות and .ברית  These references as well as others point to an underlying creation theme.  Hashem did not bring the flood simply to destroy evil.  The destruction of evil was a means to help achieve the goal of “re-creating” the world.  Then why, you may ask, did Hashem decide to “re-create” the world only once?  Perhaps the re-creation was not necessary in and of itself, but it was done just once in order to provide us with a crucial message concerning sin.  When dealing with our own personal sins, the Teshuva process should be viewed as a re-creation of the self.  As we say on the Yamim Noraim at the end of Unetane Tokef, Hashem does not wish to punish, with death or anything else.  He wants us, instead, to do Teshuva and “re-create” ourselves (see also Yechezkel 18:23, 32).
It is interesting to note that when the world was originally created, Hashem acted alone.  In this episode, however, he allows Noach, through the building and loading of the Teva, to be actively involved in creating the world anew.  This sounds like the Luchot, which were prepared entirely by Hashem the first time, but were carved by Moshe the second time, perhaps then indicating a stronger involvement of the people in Talmud Torah once the second set of Luchot were produced (see Bait Halevi Darash 18).  Perhaps Noach’s involvement in “re-creating” the world was supposed to set an example for all people of the “new world.”  We should personally be involved in “re-creating” ourselves during the Teshuva process.  And in each instance, we must first make sure to “destroy” the evil within us.

Good Deeds vs. Children
by Effie Richmond

Parshat Noach starts off with the words “Eileh Toldot Noach, Noach Ish Tzaddik,” Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l in his Sefer, Darash Moshe, brings down the Rashi on that Pasuk.  Rashi says that we learn from this Pasuk that the most important trait of a righteous man is good deeds.  The Gemara (Moed Katan 27b) quotes a Pasuk in Yirmiyahu (22:10) that says, “You should weep for the one who went away.”  This Pasuk is talking about people who passed away with out children.  We can infer from the Rashi that this is not talking about people with good deeds because those people are considered having children.  We learn from a Pasuk in Yeshayahu that Hashem comforts those people who do not have children by telling them that if they keep His commandments and they keep the Shabbat and they follow the will of Hashem that’s that is better having children.  So Hashem is saying that good deeds are better than children and that it is better to have no children but good deeds than having children but not good deeds.
Even though it is true for most people that it is better to have good deeds than children, this was not true with Noach.  Noach’s main offspring was his physical offspring, because Noach’s children were the only humans left after the flood.  With that true, how could you say that Noach’s good deeds were more important than his children who were the basis of all the future human life?  If the Pasuk was trying to convey that to us then Noach’s good deeds should have been put in another part of the Parsha where the children of Noach were not so important for the survival of human life.
If it were not for Noach’s good deeds however, there would have been no good in the world.  As a result, Hashem would not have considered it worthwhile to continue the world.  The Pasuk uses Noach as an example of good deeds to show that even in Noach’s case Hashem chose a man’s good deeds over having children.  With this true, even though having children is important for the continuing of life, having good deeds, which are our spiritual offspring are more important.

Arguing With God
by Yair Manas

In this week’s Parsha, Parshat Noach, the Torah tells us of 2 generations of sinners, The Dor Hamabul (the generation of the flood), and the Dor Haflagah (the generation of division).  The Dor Hamabul lost their fear in Hashem.  They partook in all types of immoral and destructive activity, as the Torah states, ותמלא הארץ חמס   “The Earth was filled with robbery” (6:11).  In short, the description of the Dor Hamabul is very bad.
Yet, the Dor Haflaga is even worse.  The Dor Haflaga lost themselves even more.  They rebelled directly against Hashem’s authority.  They attempted to build a tower, go up to Heaven, and conquer the heavens (Bereishit Rabbah 38:7).  This is defiance at its peak.
However, if we examine their respective punishments, we find something very interesting.  The Dor Hamabul was wiped off the face of the Earth, while the Dor Haflaga was only dispersed around the world.  Why was the punishment of the Dor Hamabul more severe if it appears that the sin of the Dor Haflaga was a graver sin?  Why did Hashem punish the Dor Haflaga with such leniency?
Chazal explain that there was a substantial merit that the Dor Haflaga possessed that the Dor Hamabul did not.  As rebellious and defiant towards Hashem as they were, the Dor Haflaga possessed Shalom, peace, which brought leniency toward them.  As wicked as they were, there was still peace and harmony among them.  The Dor Hamabul was filled with robbery and crimes, which are Bain Adam Lechaveiro.  Therefore there is a more lenient punishment for the Dor Haflaga.
This past Tisha Baav, the Chafetz Chaim Institute made a film featuring Rav Shmuel Kaminetzsky, Rabbi Jonathan Riatti, and Rabbi Yissachar Frand.  The subject of this film was avoiding Machloket, strife.  The Dor Haflaga eliminated strife and operated under peace and harmony.  The Dor Hamabul did not.
A valuable lesson can be learned from this week’s Parsha.  Even the Dor Haflaga, with rebellion in mind, were peaceful to each other.  Imagine how much more peaceful a generation without rebellion can be.  Like the film points out, we should avoid Machloket and ultimately we can be better people.  If not, however, the Dor Hamabul reminds us of what can potentially happen.

Taking Responsibility
by Yoni Shenkman

Parshat Noach introduces Noach by first proclaiming that Noach was a “righteous man in his generation, and a man who walked with Hashem” (6:19).  Commentaries clarify the words “in his generation” in two ways, both brought down by Rashi.  It could either be a good thing, that although Noach’s generation was so evil, nevertheless he was righteous.  On the other hand, it could mean that only in his generation was Noach considered righteous, and were he to have lived in another generation, he would not have been considered so righteous.
Everyone in Noach’s entire generation was evil, yet he remained righteous, and still some commentaries say he would not have been righteous in any other generation.  Moreover, as the flood was taking place, Noach and his family were in the ark, while everyone else was on the outside, dying.  Some explain that Noach’s fault was that he kept too much to himself and did not try to correct those around him (which was the reason that Hashem made the building of the Ark take so long, in hope that the people would repent).  Noach was faulted for having bad surroundings, and he did not even have a choice!  His whole generation was bad, yet it was his responsibility to try and change them.
Applying that to our lives, we see the importance of associating oneself with the right group of friends, and the importance of reaching out to others.  We need to realize how critical it is that our friends not bring us down.  Conversely, we must make sure that we are not lowering anyone else’s standards, and that we are only helping others.  The Torah is full of rules that are designed to sensitize us to our friends’ needs, and we should take some time to think about that.  We should find at least one Halacha that we can strictly adopt, grow through it, and encourage our friends to do the same!

Halacha of the Week
One should not recite the Beracha of Al Netilat Yadayim unless he will eat at least a Kebaitza of bread (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 158:2).


Staff at time of publication:
Editors-in-Chief: Josh Dubin, David Gertler
Managing Editors: Yair Manas, Uriel Schechter
Publishing Manager: Zev Feigenbaum
Publication Editor: Ilan Tokayer
Business Managers: Yehuda Goldin, Sam Wiseman
Staff: Noam Block, Ami Friedman, Shuky Gross, Simcha Haber, Oren Levy, Ari Michael, Effie Richmond, Dani Shaffren
Webmaster: Yisroel Ellman (whose fault it is that I had to put this issue online!!!)
Faculty Advisor: Rabbi Howard Jachter

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