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Parshas Noach

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Parshas Noach
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Smells Like A Thief

The pasuk says "VaTimalei Ha'aretz Chomos" The land was full of theft. The Baal Haturim compares this to Mitzrayim where the pasuk says "VaTimalei Ha'aretz Oisom" they gave birth to so many children and the land was full of them. There he explains that it literally means that the land was full with children since upon birth the children were swallowed up by the ground and raised by Malachim until they grew up and popped out of the ground when they were safe from the decree of Paroh that all children should be killed.

Here also says the Baal Haturim the ground was full of theft. How? They had an interesting method of stealing. A person would ask his friend to watch a bag of valuables for him. In the bag he would also include a persimmon. The person looking after the valuables would place it in his hiding place in the ground with his own valuables to keep it safe. At night the owner of the bag would come and sniff around for the persimmon that was easy to trace due to its strong fragrance. He would then take back his bag and steal all the other valuables with it.


It's War! Pick A Side

It is amazing how many holocaust stories you read of ordinary people who did some incredibly brave and selfless acts that seemed way above their pre-war character as their peers knew them. From where did these plain folks garner the amazing courage and strength that they displayed? The Alter of Novardhok explains that during a war there is no middle ground. You either rise to the occasion or you sink to the depths of humanity. Mediocrity can only survive during ordinary times. Using this concept, those who made up their mind to survive at any cost were capable of totally animalistic behavior while those who refused to allow the Nazi beast to destroy their humanity shined brighter than angels.

This is how the Alter of Novardhok explains the great debate of how great a tzaddik Noach would be had he lived in Avrohom Avinu's generation. Some say that Noach's greatness was from an inner drive to be a tzaddik. Therefore had he lived in a better generation he would have been even greater since he would have had more to aspire to. Others say that Noach was by nature mediocre but upon seeing the behavior of his generation he chose a side; te side of tziddkus. He chose to behave in a way that was the polar opposite of what he felt was the generations corrupt and immoral behavior. Since this led to his greatness than had he lived in Avrohom's generation he would have stayed mediocre due to the lack of driving force pushing him to the side of tziddkus.


They Are All Crazy!

"Ki Hishchis Ko Basar Es Darko Al HaAretz";"Because all creatures have corrupted their ways on the earth." Rashi explains that even animals, beasts and birds had relations with those that were not of their species. The Meforshim are troubled how animals that do not have a Yetzer HaRa could also do these corrupt acts of Znus?

The Bais HaLevi answers, when Man acts corruptly, he brings down the whole level of all creatures on earth. Therefore, even creatures that do not possess a Yetzer HaRa can also be lowered to the level of having relations with other species. On the same note, when Rashi says on the words," Vihinini Mashchisom Es HaAretz" - "And I will destroy them with the earth" - that 3 Tefachim of the soil were washed away by the Mabul, Maskil L'David explains that this was because the earth also acted corruptly. If one would plant barley, wheat would grow etc. This was also a repercussion of the corrupt acts of mankind.


Midrash Pli'ah and The Days of Hallel

"Shnayim Shnayim Baoo El Noach"; "2 of each specie came to Noach" There is a Midrash Pliah that says "Shnayim Shnayim Baoo El Noach"- from here we see the days which we recite the complete Hallel". What is the pshat in this Midrash?

The Meforshim answer, the days in which we recite whole Hallel in the Diaspora are

1) The first 2 days of Pesach

2) 2 days Shavuos

3) 9 days Sukkos

4) 8 days Chanukah

This is the pshat in the Midrash.

Shnayim - The first 2 days of Pesach

Shnayim - 2 days Shavuos

Baoo - has the numerical value of 9 - 9 days Sukkos

El Noach - has a numerical value of 89 which is the same numerical value as Chanukah.


Og Melech HaBashan Was Such A Big Tzaddik??

We are all familiar with the Midrash that Og was saved from the Mabul. Why did this giant Rasha merit to be saved? Yanason Ben Uziel and Tosfos Yeshanim both say that it was in order that future generations would see his tremendous size, and get an idea of the might of the flood which annihilated the rest of the giants.


The Problem With World Peace

Most of us have learned that the aveira of the Dor Haflaga was that wanted to build a tower to reach Shamayim and fight Hashem or some other variation of an attempted rebellion. The Drashos HaRan has a big problem with this understanding. For a cardinal sin of this nature we usually find retribution in the form of death and destruction. While none of us particularly enjoy foreign language class we never considered it the equivalent of being stoned or burned at the stake. So why did the Dor Haflaga get off without any punishment other then speaking different languages?

In the Drashos HaRan, the Ran says that they actually did not commit any crime. All they wanted was for all of mankind to be united under one king. To this end they wanted to build a massive palace befitting a king of this stature and making it visible far and wide. Sounds nice, what was Hashem's objection to this? Hashem had two problems. First of all since they were all inclined towards avodah zara the end result would have been that this kingdom would have been a kingdom of avodah zara. The second big problem is that when there are many kingdoms, when the going gets rough for the Jews in one area they can always escape to another place which will accept them. With the whole world united, once Judaism fell out of favor, the Jews would have no respite anywhere in the world.

It is with the great Chesed of Hashem that in this world when the Christians oppress us the Muslims welcome us. When Europe spits us out America provides fertile ground for rebuilding and so on and so forth throughout the ages. If you are pushing for world peace maybe you ought to give it up and enjoy all the turmoil and politics. It is all Hashem's hand ensuring you have a friendly place to sleep tomorrow night.


Can You Guess Who Was Born In The Teivah?

The Gemara says that Sichon and Og were brothers - the sons of Achiyah Bar Shamchazai. As we know, Og was saved from the Mabul. What happened to Sichon? He was still alive during the 40 years that the Jews wandered in the desert. He was killed at the end of the 40 years during the war against the Bnei Yisroel. Where was he during the Mabul?

Daas Zekanim MiBalei Hatosfos answers that Sichon's mother was pregnant with Sichon immediately before the Mabul. She married Cham before the Mabul and entered the Teivah. Sichon was born in the Teivah!


The Rainbow - A Miraculous Sign or A Natural Phenomenon?

How can the rainbow be a special sign to mankind after the mabul that Hashem will never again bring another mabul to destroy the world. The rainbow is a perfectly normal, easily explained, natural consequence of the sun's reflection of the moisture in the air? Many rishonim and acharonim address this question and the opinions vary. Some say the clouds were much thicker before the mabul leaving no place for the sun to reflect. Others say the air was much purer and therefore there was no refraction to create a rainbow.

The Kli Yakar offers a novel explanation saying that in fact there were rainbows. People just didn't find them particularly interesting and didn't pay attention to them. After the Mabul when they did aveiros and were scared that Hashem would destroy the world they "looked" for the rainbow as a sign that they would be safe. This is how he explains the fact that during the generation of Rebbi Shimon Bar Yochai there were no rainbows. Of course there were rainbows, he says, but since everyone knew that the zchus of the great tzaddik would protect them they didn't bother seeking out the sign of protection.

This fits in with the intriguing explanation of Rashi who translates the worlds "V'Haya Ba'Anani H'Anan" to mean when Hashem wants to bring darkness and destruction on the world (then the rainbow will appear) instead of the simple translation of "when there will be clouds". Rashi is saying, according to the Kli Yakar, that people will take note of the rainbow when they sin and deserve to be punished and not simply when there are clouds in the air.

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