Parshas Noach

The Weekly Sedra – Parshas Noach

Posted on October 30, 2008. Filed under: Jewish Customs, Parshas Noach, Parshas Noah, Torah, Weekly Parsha, Weekly sedra | Tags: , , , , , |


The Parshah in a Nutshell


Genesis 6:9-11:32

G-d instructs Noah — the only righteous man in a world consumed by violence and corruption — to build a large wooden teivah (“ark”), coated within and without with pitch. A great deluge, says G-d, will wipe out all life from the face of the earth; but the ark will float upon the water, sheltering Noah and his family, and two members (male and female) of each animal species.

Rain falls for 40 days and nights, and the waters churn for 150 days more before calming and beginning to recede. The ark settles on Mount Ararat, and from its window Noah dispatches a raven, and then a series of doves, “to see if the waters were abated from the face of the earth.” When the ground dries completely — exactly one solar year (365 days) after the onset of the Flood — G-d commands Noah to exit the teivah and repopulate the earth.

Noah builds an altar and offers sacrifices to G-d. G-d swears never again to destroy all of mankind because of their deeds, and sets the rainbow as a testimony of His new covenant with man. G-d also commands Noah regarding the sacredness of life: murder is deemed a capital offense, and while man is permitted to eat the meat of animals, he is forbidden to eat flesh or blood taken from a living animal.

Noah plants a vineyard and becomes drunk on its produce. Two of Noah’s sons, Shem and Japeth, are blessed for covering up their father’s nakedness, while his third son, Ham, is cursed for taking advantage of his debasement.

The descendants of Noah remain a single people, with a single language and culture, for ten generations. Then they defy their Creator by building a great tower to symbolize their own invincibility; G-d confuses their language so that “one does not comprehend the tongue of the other,” causing them to abandon their project and disperse across the face of the earth, splitting into seventy nations.

The Parshah of Noach concludes with a chronology of the ten generations from Noah to Abram (later Abraham), and the latter’s journey from his birthplace of Ur Casdim to Charan, on the way to the Land of Canaan.

*** Above portions were copied from ***

The Rebbe says:

1. This week’s Torah portion discusses the flood which Hashem (G-d) brought onto the world because of their immoral behavior .

2. The Rebbe now explains a deeper aspect of the flood:

The Alter Rebbe (Reb Shneur Zalman of Liadi) explains that the flood was not only a punishment for the inhabitants of the world because of their terrible behavior, it was also a cleansing for the world .

3. The Rebbe now shows how this aspect of the flood, it being a cleansing, clearly affected the flood’s characteristics:

The Torah tells us that the flood lasted for forty days and forty nights. We also know that the Halacha (Torah law) regarding a Mikvah (a ritual cleansing bath ) is that it must have forty Sa’ah (a Halachic measurement; a little over three hundred and forty gallons) of water in it for a person to become pure.

The connection here is obvious: The flood lasted for forty days and forty nights because it was cleansing the world, just like a Mikvah needs to have forty Sa’ah to cleanse a person.

4. The Rebbe now points out that according to the abovementioned explanation of the flood we can understand something else:

The Torah calls the flood, “The waters of Noach” . Moreover, the Midrash tells us that the word “Noach” can be translated as “pleasing” (“Niechah D’Ruchah”) . When you put this together you have, “The pleasing waters”.

The obvious question here is why was the flood “pleasing waters” for Hashem? Didn’t these waters symbolize destruction?

However, according to the abovementioned explanation, that the flood cleansed the world of all its impurities, this is simple to understand: The flood was pleasing to Hashem because the flood caused His world to be a (spiritually) clean world.

5. The Rebbe now quotes the Alter Rebbe again and explains his words:

The Alter Rebbe continues his explanation of the flood and writes that the concerns one has for the state of his livelihood are referred to as, “The turbulent waters” (“Mayim Rabim”) .

Now, since we just explained that water has a cleansing aspect to it and is pleasing to Hashem, we must say that the turbulence one goes through to earn a living cleanses the person from his coarseness and is pleasing to Hashem.

6. The Rebbe now fully explains the connection between 1) the burden of earning a living, 2) the flood, and 3) the Mikvah:

The inner dimension of dunking in a Mikvah is Bitul (nullifying ones self) . As the words themselves attest to this; the Hebrew word for dunking (in a Mikvah) is, “Tevilah – טבילה”, which has the same exact letters as the word, “Habitul – הביטל”, which means self nullification.

This also explains why a Mikvah must have forty Sa’ah, “the amount that can totally cover our body from head to foot” : When we are totally covered by the water we are elevated to a higher plane and we can go out of our “self” and leave our ego behind, and this makes us a proper vessel for Holiness.

This same logic also holds true for the need to have worries of livelihood: They are there to break our ego so that we can serve Hashem from a broken heart and a humble spirit. The pressure of providing for our families causes us to realize that Hashem is in charge and only He can send us money if we need it.

Now we can fully understand why the burden of earning a living is called, “The turbulent waters”: Just like the water of the Mikvah cleanses the person and the water of the flood cleansed the world, the turbulent waters of earning a livelihood cleanse us and enable us to be a proper vessel for Holiness (with all its ramifications, i.e. Blessings).

7. The Rebbe now finishes off by explaining how this new understanding of “The turbulent waters” (earning a living) can really help us:

Since the whole point of a person having worries of livelihood is so that his coarse outer shell is broken and he is cleansed (and is not a punishment Heaven Forbid), he can accomplish this in one instant! When a person is broken and crushed because of his heavy burden to provide for himself and his family and he comes close to Hashem for help, he has accomplished the whole point of him having the monetary problems in the first place and therefore Hashem can take them away and send him all the money and sustenance he needs.

Translated and adapted by Shalom Goldberg. Taken from Likutei Sichos volume one, first Sicha.

*** Some portions were copied from CrownHeights.Info and some were from ***

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