THE JERUSALEM JEWISH VOICE
THE WEEKLY TORAH READING -- A FIRST GLANCE
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A WASHED-OUT CIVILIZATION, A FATAL FLOOD, AND A TOTTERING TOWER
THIS STUDY IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE HEITNER FAMILY, IN LOVING MEMORY OF THEIR FATHER, Y'RACHMIEL MORDECHAI BEN CHAYIM, AND IN COMMEMORATION OF THE BAR MITZVA OF SHMUEL HEITNER
I decline utterly to be impartial as between the Fire Brigade and the Fire (Winston Churchill).
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Last year, Rav Gafni called Noach Everyman, starting a brave new world, after Adam's world was washed out; we, his descendants, still struggle with it. But we too pursue Noach's escapist pursuit of comfort, creating neutral zones of peace and security, of piety and halachic rules, amidst, but ignoring, a decadent world, which causes so much pain to God (6:6); pious practices replace relating to God's Will vis-a-vis one's contemporary reality, into which He has placed us. Noach indeed means: "this one will comfort or pacify us..." (5:29).
But comfort, unlike its opposite state, pain, the consequence of responsibility and involvement, can never lead to true pleasure-- true pleasure only follows truly sacrificial and painful rectifying accomplishments-- cf. Gafni's enthusiastic post-shiur niggunim. Vacations are not good for the unemployed. Modern man, as Noach, is so often a numb Pink Floyd accidental tourist-- a spectator, rather than a participant, in the drama of life. Anger often generates apathy, depression and laziness, rather than active passionate engagement with life's challenges. But, after the flood, anger and drunkenness, temporary addiction, are the beginning of Noach's live response to his difficult situation, tho its still too much for him to deal with effectively; but they do replace his former cool detached observation-- cf. Job and Jonah.
Gafni's analysis assumes that Noach is a second rate tzadik, one talmudic view. Let me be the unpaid advocate, my profession, for the opposite view-- that he was a first rate tzadik; we then assume that he did do all that he could do to save a basically irremedable situation (see Ecc. 7:13), and that his proper response was indeed to create his own little island of holiness and sanity; perhaps Nero was right in fiddling while Rome burnt, IF there was nothing he could do about it; Shlomo Carlebach expressed his feelings with music at his mother's funeral-- cf. East European "g'dolim", fiddling with delicate nuances in Tosofot while Jews were being tortured, raped, killed and robbed, while children worked many hours in primitive conditions, while the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory workers died in an inferno. Perhaps some folks are meant to be activists, others theorists.
" God is of no importance unless He is of supreme importance." "Let young people remember that there is meaning beyond absurdity, Let them be sure that every deed counts, that every word has power... And, above all, let them remember to build a life as if it were a work of art" (Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Heschel). The latter 1972 quote introduces Alex-- Building A Life, The Story of an American who fell defending Israel, $18 from TOP.
A. THE BACKGROUND, AND AN OVERVIEW, OF NOACH
Adam & Eve left Eden to sing: "Every person must do his own thing'"! Feeling stifled by the closed God-permeated world of Eden, tempted by the attractive, tasty, and thought-provoking fruit (3:6), Eve violated their one law-- she ate the non-kosher fruit of the tree of knowledge and fed some to her husband too (lest he survive her and marry another!-- Rashi). Her crime of individual passion had 3 results: 1) God "OK'd" their implied wish to leave Him & Eden; but He mounts guards over the way to the tree of life-- not to bar them, but to preserve it for their eventual return (Rav J. Soloveichik). The original light of Torah (1:3) is gradually restored to man, proportionate to his soul's efforts-- "It's a tree of life to those who strengthen it (Prov. 3:18; Rav Meir Sendor)". 2) Curse of the earth-- nature no longer pleasantly cooperates with man's efforts; it fights him all the way, responding to his own non-yielding human nature; even birthing and rearing children are laden with great difficulty. 3) Cain slays Brother Abel, amidst religious rivalry, a crime of individual aggression and aggrandizement. Now we follow the fate and fortune of Adam's descendants; as they collectively drift downhill, Man's Divine Image dims and he becomes more and more apelike (Mid. Raba 23, Eruv. 18a).
Man's first sin, a sin of passion (taavah)-- eating the forbidden fruit, leads to mass human enslavement to their own physical passions, culminating in the degenerate flood generation (cf. Las Vegas, the Arad Festival, MTV); the second sin, Cain's sin of pride and aggression (gaavah), brings in its wake mass human violence against fellow descendants of Adam, all God's children, via Nimrodian empire building (how can any self-respecting Israeli call his kid Nimrod?), and the Godless forced collective conformity of the Tower Generation (cf. USSR-- JBS). When Noach's cohorts continue, in the wake of Adam and Eve, to abuse and repress their Divine Image, everything upon the face of the earth, corrupted by human corruption, is eventually destroyed, save the ark of Noach & Co. They rebuild civilization after Mankind's self-destruction. Noach, Adam II (ancestor of all humanity-- Hirsch), turns to, and is addressed by, ELOKIM (numerically = 86), THE LORD, as He's found in the impersonal strict laws of nature (Hateva, = 86; see 6:1, 13, 22; 7:16, 8:15). Elokim, as Lord of nature, preserves a few of each species, including man, concerned only with the survival of the species, not the fate of the individual bird, leaf or butterfly, or even of mass man (Rambam, Guide; he claims that God's Loving Providence is in proportion to each man's unique development of his soul); He later blesses and addresses both Noach and his sons-- 9:1,8; but God also addresses Noach as HASHEM-- the God of mercy and love, beyond nature, when He tells Noach and his family to enter the ark BECAUSE HE"S RIGHTEOUS, a providential response to his self-developed unique Divine image.
But Noach somehow never becomes Avraham, a truer forerunner of ideal man-- a lonely great individual, Avraham can both defy the whole world and wage war against evil, following his own deep thoughts and feelings; yet he also has the greatest love for others, feeding them both physically and spiritually. He connects, and integrates within himself, both aspects of God, Hashem and Elokim, thus starting mankind on the road back to Eden.
Yet man must develop himself naturally, before entering open mystical contact with God's Essence-- to be a healthy, moral and disciplined person, able to love and work (Freud), as were His faithful shepherds Avraham, Moshe, and Dovid; religion should sanctify life, not become a substitute for it. Derech Eretz, knowledge of, and accomodation to, the way of the earth (science and nature), precedes more esoteric spiritual realms, Torah, and is the basis of love of God, per Rambam (Yesodei Hatora, Ch. 2); Avraham gradually found God in nature, commencing his search in early childhood, long before He revealed Himself to him (M.T. A.Z. 1:2f).
But man's inner self, thinking and feeling, is often repressed among 2 groups-- 1) those once wild and destructive, now rigidly religious, afraid to trust their own thoughts and feelings again. 2) those raised from childhood to suppress their own creative feeling and thought. Both groups often turn their minds and hearts over to a very significant other, to whom they ascribe Godlike powers, even after death *. So many Jews died in the Shoah, when they believed those rabbis and teachers who assured them that they weren't in mortal danger. Such folks evade the essence of return to Divinity-- to develop their own inner strengths and structures of thought and sensitivity; such cult-like behavior is far more common in societies led by one great charismatic personality, e.g. Chabad, Chofetz Chayim and Ponavitch, than in those with many great teachers, who often disagree, e.g. Or Sameach, Isralight, Torah Vadaas and Y. U. Such repression of nature leads to frustration, depression and anger, sometimes expressed via counterproductive "Divine violence"-- cf. "ex"-criminals and addicts, now "holy" penitents and God's self-appointed policemen at the Wall, and profanation of Shabbat by protesting Badatz masses, near Jerusalem's Route 1.
* A visiting U.S. chabad teacher insisted that the Rebbe could never be wrong (!), and that his highly questionable opposition to sleeping in the sukka (see our Sukkot study) was due to having to also sleep with one's wife there, per the Shulchan Aruch of the Rav, a activity inconsonant with the holiness of the sukka; but the Baal Hatanya didn't share this rabbi's non-Jewish contempt of sex, something done, as he put it, "in the bushes"! Nor did the Rebbe mention it. Also, single men would still have to sleep there. As our conversation continued, the rabbi got more and more emotional and irrational, alleging that the sukka was God Himself and that questioning the Rebbe was equivalent to Korach questioning Moshe (cf. Christianity)! He used an irrational and unethical debating technique-- to have you admit something obviously true, then imply that you therefore must also affirm something quite questionable, e.g.: "Do you doubt that God gave the Torah?" as a response to Rav Yichye Kapach's doubts about the 1278 Zohar's Jewish authenticity. This rabbi, tho close to the Rebbe, was completely unfamiliar with the Rebbe's own letter of 5715, quoted in our Sukkot study, where the Rebbe himself (not Himself!) says that a male must sleep in the sukka, if he's sure that he won't treat it casually thereby (the talmud and codes discuss no such fear).
Rav Norman Lamm, shlita, added that a major factor behind Chabad negation of this clear mitzva, besides the cold East European climate, was their Chassidic practice of leaving their families to visit the Rebbe on holidays, when mass sukka sleep-ins, rather than sleeping at inns, were both impractical and uncomfortable. Greer Fay Cashman remembers chabadniks who did sleep in the sukka in Australia, so far from 770. So Aish Hatora in L.A., far away from Bnei Brak and Rav Shach, hosted massive public Israel Independence Day celebrations.
The Zohar (Vayera 107), written in Spain by Moshe DeLeon (1278, possibly based on much older oral traditions), predicts that the heavens will again open up, pouring down waters of knowledge, in 5600**; do moderns generally know more than ancients? Per Rebbe Mendele of Kotsk, both secular and Torah knowledge indeed burst forth in 1840; the forces of evil, however, wrested knowledge away from its potential for fixing the world (tikkun), and twisted it for evil (e.g. misuse of psychoanalysis to justify promiscuity, of science to forge weapons of mass destruction, of TV for trash, and of Torah to justify hate, anger and intolerance).
** 1840-- the year Avraham Hort set sail from London to N.Z., where he founded a fine Jewish community in Wellington; tho quite righteous and pious, his daughter Margerit tragically married a non-Jew, Francis Dillon Bell, becoming ancestress of a future P.M.; Hort wouldn't sanction, but didn't oppose, it, as no Jewish men were available; today, young New Zealanders easily attend fine schools, e.g. Bnei Akiva, in Jerusalem, where they can meet their future mates. A Hort grandson, as did a son of Chacham Yitzchak Bernays, forsook God's eternal covenant for Christianity.
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B. A SYNOPSIS OF NOACH
THESE ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF NOACH-- NOACH WAS A (real) MAN, RIGHTEOUS. HE WAS PERFECT IN HIS GENERATIONS (Flood and Tower); Noach WALKED WITH THE LORD (of nature-- 6:9). Rabbis speculate as to how Noach would have fared in better times, e.g. Avraham's era. Universal corruption in his days may have so repelled him that he became far better than he would have been in a normal setting. So one who sees public exposure of a loose woman (sota) is likely to become a nazirite and refrain from wine (Sota 2a). On the other hand, Noach's terrible environment may have had its inevitable effects, even on him (cf. modern Orthodox West Side "tefillin dates" and alienation from Zionism); he might have been even more righteous amidst a better crowd. His 3 sons, Shem, Cham and Yafes, perhaps also righteous, were saved too-- good parents may overcome the worst peer environment; but their salvation may be due to Noach's Divine proteksia-- can you blame parents who can't overcome peer pressure? (maybe-- if they can move, e.g. from Reno to Jerusalem). Per Ramban, Shem, the finest son, is listed first, tho younger than Yafes; but Ramban later states that they're listed by age (Rambam explains such contradictions in scholarly works-- Guide, I, Introd.). Noach became a parent at 500 (5:32), much older than his predecessors. Afraid to raise children in such a corrupt era, he mated only 20 years after God appointed him His Majesty's sole flood survivor (S. R. Hirsch).
Per Hirsch, Noach's 3 sons represent the spiritual-intellectual, the physical-sensual and the emotional-aesthetic-technological development of Man, all necessary for his Divine mission (cf. Renaissance Man, David & Solomon, Reb Shlomo and Rav Gafni!). SHEM, literally "name", denotes the ability, already demonstrated by Adam (2:19, 3:20), to abstract the essence of things and express concepts, ultimately relating to the Greatest Abstraction, God-- Moshe really had it. CHAM means heat-- sensuality and excitement, qualities of a good jazz player or basketball star. Aesthete YAFES bridges them, via sensitivity to physical beauty and refinement, e.g. Leonard Bernstein, comrade of Candide, and Beethoven, companion to Nachman Von Breslav, in Curt Leviant's gripping imaginative novel The Man Who Thought He Was Messiah ($25 from TOP).
Noach was well-developed in all 3 realms (6:9): 1) Noach WALKED WITH THE LORD-- his highly developed reason and science made him acutely aware of the unity of Creation and its Creator (cf. Einstein, who, however, perhaps like Noach, didn't experience God's relating to Everyman via Providential Love & Torah; Y. Schroeder compares Albert's belief with Spinoza's-- see The Private Lives of Albert Einstein, Highfield and Carter; he raised money for Y.U. in 1936, realizing the importance of a Jewish environment for young Jews studying secular subjects); 2) PERFECT or UNBLEMISHED means that Noach controlled and sanctified his sensual drives, unlike Cham (and Einstein?-- see ibid; cf. Shabbat kiddush, sanctification of Creation, done over wine). 3) RIGHTEOUS refers to the highest development of the civilized aesthetic sense; unlike Yafes, a truly refined aesthete sees beauty first and foremost in human soul development, not just in lifeless artistic creations; the latter, however, can serve as powerful symbols and reminders of holy inner states-- e.g. the tabernacle and temple, Shlomo niggunim; angry Beethoven's 9th too?-- see Leviant's novel. A SHEYNER YID, a beautiful Jewish soul, was the shtetel's peak aesthetic experience. Its inhabitants (see The Rest Of Us and Fiddler On The Roof) were deemed primitive, "uncultured", by many German Jews-- but their cool orderly artistic "civilization" crowned Hitler.
NOACH'S WORLD became corrupt thru unbridled sensuality; violence followed-- those trapped by their own physical passions, perhaps naturally kind, resort to anything to get $$. God informs Noach that He intends to flood the world, apparently corrupted beyond repentence ; Noach doesn't respond. God tells him to make a 3 decker ark with a door and a window-- either glass, which lets external light enter, or a gem, which emits its own inner light. Great souls radiate their own eternal internal light; but all can transmit the light of others, by learning and teaching. The Haftara proclaims to Israel: I'LL MAKE YOUR WINDOWS OF RUBIES (Is. 54:12).
By building the ark, Noach will save himself, his family, and 2 each, M & F, of all non-Aquarian creatures, even those "unclean", perhaps not good for the soul, especially the Jewish soul; he's so commanded by Elokim, God in his self-restricted capacity of the Lord of finite Nature, to preserve nature (6:19; so non-kosher meat does sustain the body). Unlike Moshe, he's appears quite willing to save himself and his family when God destroys everyone else. Noach is also told, now by Hashem, the infinite God of mercy and relationship to take "seven seven, husband and wife..." of all clean animals (perhaps those good for the soul, especially the Jewish soul) into the ark (7:2). This can't mean 7 animals of each clean species, as he'd then have to take 3 1/2 males and 3 1/2 females; so it must mean 7 pairs, "7-7", M & F, of each clean animal (see Gen. Raba, Radak and Malbim). The 7 pairs were in addition to the first pair, per R. Bachye, who says that all seven pairs were sacrificed; this view is ignored by Artscrolls Bereshis, p. 243, which says that the commentators include the one pair within the 7, assuming that all 7 pairs were not sacrificed.
ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE: True, we find mistakes here and there in Artscrolls (and Arye Kaplan) Books; true, we are often unsomfortable with their skewed modern haredi perspective, ignoring religious Zionism (likewise with Ohr Somaach and Chabad, and the Shachian figures at Aish Hatora). But we must also simultaneously appreciate the positive accomplishments of those whom we legitimately criticize; we must acknowledge the incredible proliferation of Torah in our days via the attractive, well-researched and user-friendly Artscroll Books (especially their Zionist Artscrolls RCA Siddur-- Feldheim is still holding out!), and via dynamic savvy Aish, Ohr Somaach and Chabad-- may they all incorporate the religious Zionist perspective of Rav J. B. Soloveichik, Rav A.Y. Kook, etc. soon; some of Aish's leading teachers, e.g. Rabbis Kahan and Shiff, do share our values; may they prevail! Repentant Rav Natan Cardozo has left Ohr Somaach for Zionist Isralight, whose head (and heart), Rav Dovid Aharon, used to teach at Aish. May Artscrolls soon crown their mission with a kosher Tanach to replace the JPS edition, mostly done by heretical academics, who don't believe that God dictated the Torah, howbeit attractive and dignified; JPS authors often look to ancient Akadian texts, rather than God's Oral tradtion, embedded in the talmud, to understand the Tanach. They'd be better off following a talmud chacham like Noach--
Noach sacrificed the clean animals (or some of them) upon leaving the ark (8:20), per the Torah's later laws; tho Noachides could bring any clean animal or bird as a sacrifice, Jews could sacrifice only certain kosher critters (see Zev. 115b)-- the Jewish table corresponds to the Noachide altar-- any kosher creature, e.g. giraffes and kosher locusts, is suitable for both (Hirsch). So we see that Noach studied Torah; he's only called "righteous" here (7:1), not "righteous and whole-hearted" (as in 6:9), to teach us that one should only recite part of another's justified praise in his presence (see Eruvin 18, 26-- why?).
Rabbenu Bachye claims that Noach understood God's secret, revealed later by Bilaam (Numbers 23:1,4), that 7 animals were to be brought as sacrifices; others claim that the extra clean animals were to multiply and provide the best meat for man, who'd be allowed to kill and eat them after the flood (9:3); Noach's sacrifices may have been optional (see Klei Yakar, Ohr Hachayim). God (7:3) states only that the animals are saved "to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth", not "to be sacrificed"; but Ramban (7:1) says that "seed" refers to Noach's descendnats, who are saved from the flood in the merit of his future sacrifices!!!-- a seemingly far-fetched, but ingenious, explanation. A much simpler explanation-- Noach was to take only healthy animals, physically capable of "keeping seed alive", i.e. of bearing young and preserving the species (A.Z. 6a). It's obvious that the commentators have no clear traditional meaning of these passages-- they apply their great knowledge of the written and oral Torah, and their God-given intelligence, to give their best explanation, consistant with the rest of the Torah and the halacha; perhaps God indeed desired all their explanations, writing His Torah such that all would emerge, each having its merit and benefit; the Torah is compared to a rock, shattering into many seemingly unique and independent fragments.
Such basic universal religious knowledge as the efficacy of sacrifices to develop religious spirit (when done properly with the proper mind set) is perpetuated, perfected, and purified thru the Jew (see our Bereshit study; but note those who quietly leave the shul in Yemin Moshe at Mussaf!).
Noach is to gather food for the entire floating zoo! The room required for all species and their staggering quantities of food is enormous; this suggests Divine miraculous intervention, AFTER Noach did all he could-- perhaps inactive animals needed very little food in the ark, or the food supply didn't diminish with consumption (cf. Chanukah's 8-In-One oil miracle, and the uncrowded feeling of the crowded Temple Court, when the Jews bowed down-- see Avot 5:7).
The long time required to build the do-it-yourself ark, single-handed, gave Noach many opportunities to talk to those curious about his task; perhaps they'd repent. Yet Noach only walked WITH THE LORD; so much greater Avraham goes BEFORE GOD (6:9, 24:40), teaching, preaching and praying everywhere; Noach appears passive, not reaching out; he needs God to "hold his hand", as a father of a small fearful child-- Rashi; per Ari's Zoharian belief in reincarnation (vs. Saadya, Albo, etc.), Moshe replaces and "fixes" Noach-- Moshe's constantly preoccupied with saving others (cf. outreach today-- what do you personally do to bring lost Jews back to the fold?). Such concepts of religious progress needn't entail reincarnation; they may more resemble biological evolution.
TAVAH, "ark", also means "WORD"; its dimensions-- 300, 50 and 30-- are numerical equivalents of shin, nun, and lamed, which form LASHON, "speech" or "tongue" ("dialect", per Hirsch). Nachman of Breslav, as his great grandfather, the Besht, expounds the hint-- carefully control what leaves your mouth, even more than what enters it; avoiding lewdness and imbuing speech with holiness is the first defense against the sensual degeneration of the Flood Era. One must place a window for light in one's "tavah", his word; "BE FRUITFUL AND MULTIPLY" includes creating enlightening concepts when studying and teaching Torah, as well as matchmaking. One called Tzadik, Righteous, e.g. Noach or Yosef, has withstood sexual temptation. This, in turn, gives power to his speech, his prayers. Prayer affects reality. Speech distinguishes Divine Image Man from his mammalian fellows (Onkelos, 2:7; but see our April 93 study of Man & Beast). Its profanation (e.g. unproductive negative speech, lying, shouting, cursing, etc.) may be worse than bodily profanation. God says: Noach took "FROM THE ANIMAL WHICH WAS NOT CLEAN" (7:8), rather than "FROM THE UNCLEAN ANIMAL"; this teaches one to avoid profane speech (Pes.3a), tho he needn't always do so-- the Torah indeed often simply says UNCLEAN. Perhaps extra stress is put on "clean speech" here, where God hints at its power and the dangers of its abuse.
Rain poured down from heaven, as waters arose from the earth, covering even mountains; everything on earth, except the ark, was washed away. This began on the 17th day of the 2nd month, in Noach's 600th year; tho the 2nd month is Iyar in the Torah's holiday calendar, opening with Nissan, most use the Creation calendar, starting with Tishre, re this pre-Jewish upheaval of nature on Cheshvan 2, 1656, Oct. 27, 2106 B.C.E. This is an appropriate date to protest Israel TV's vulgarity, which can destroy our young nation, leading to world destruction in its wake (see and spread our bumper sticker on this issue).
Men and women were ordered to enter the ark separately-- sexual relations were forbidden there: "... you with your sons, your wife with your sons' wives". Should one joyfully copulate or multiply when others are dying or suffering? So Yosef fathered children only before Egypt's famine-- 41:50. The Holy Ark was, as Sinai, a place for man and wife to focus only on God, not each other, per R. Levi: "3 copulated in the ark and were punished-- the dog, the raven, and Cham; the dog was fit to be tied, the raven expectorates (his seed into his mate's mouth), and Cham was smitten in his skin (via Cush-- Rashi; others say Cham himself)"-- San. 108b; see Ain Yaakov-- cf. "black is beautiful". R. Chiya says dogs' public copulation is itself their curse. Biblical dogs were wild and nasty, not Lassie or Sasha (Ps. 22:17, 59:7, 15; IK23:38, IIK8:13, Deut. 23:19; cf. Is. 56:11, Job 30:1). The Talmud condemns dog rearing (see BK 7:7, 83a, Yoma 83b-84a; cf. Kil. 1:6, Ber. 9b, Pes. 113a). Eastern cultures raise dogs for meat, perhaps the original purpose of their domestication-- Simoons, Eat Not This Flesh. The biblical name for dog, ca-lev (like one's heart), however, reflects his role today-- man's best friend (I. Mozeson, whose TOP video lecture illustrates the impact of Adam's hebrew animal nomenclature to this day).
5-7 months later, the ark rested on Mt. Ararat, as the waters gradually decreased. Noach sent out a dark roving raven; it just wandered about "until the water was dry (8:7)"-- it's function is to feed (non-vegetarian) Eliyahu bread and meat (corned beef sandwiches?) during the drought (1K17:6; Gen. Rab. 33:5; cf. Ps. 105:28-- should we too serve meat at festive bris repasts, attended by Eliyahu?). Exhibiting early ecological consciousness, a Talmudic passage says that the raven accused Moshe of endangering its species by sending it on this perilous mission, rather than a bird of which he had 7 pairs (San. 108b). So the pairs of animals who came to preserve their species came of their own accord, prompted by the Divine Will. But God gave Noach the merit of catching those that were destined to be slaughtered, for, in His great benevolence, God would not have these animals offer themselves for death (better to fight death and lose than to give in?). At the same time, this teaches man that clemency must be exercised even toward animals (Ramban, R. Nissim, R. Bachye on 7:2); so R. Yehuda was punished by years of illness when he ignored the plea of a calf about to be slaughtered, until he had pity on a nest of weasels in his house.
Noach then sent a dove AWAY FROM HIM ("clean" birds hang around tzadikim!-- San. 108b; cf. The Wall). It returned empty-clawed, finding no rest (as Israel among the nations-- had they found lasting rest, they wouldn't return to their Israeli Messianic Destiny; cf. USA today-- Gen. Raba 33:6); Noach pulled her in. On her 2nd foray, she brought back an olive leaf in the evening (possibly from Mt. of Olives or Eden-- Gen. Rab. 33:6, Ezek. 22:24). Some say Israel wasn't flooded; it retained its original God-imbued nature, spewing forth those who live immorally; it yields produce only in accordance with Israel's observance of Torah's agricultural laws (today most are only rabbinic; even the correct sabbatical year is unclear. The dispute rages, past the Middle Ages, tho today all proclaim years divisible by 7, to be those proclaimed by Torah from Heaven-- see "Shmita", Otzar Yisroel). The dove preferred God's bitter olives to man's goodies (San. 108b; Eruv. 18b)-- no matter how well one's fed, she'd rather subsist on her own (cf. career women, children, and the prayers after meals, which stress-- "Please God, may we not have to depend upon human gifts or loans... that we not be shamed"). The 3rd time, the dove didn't return.
As the earth gradually dried out, God told Noach to leave the ark WITH HIS WIFE, and his sons WITH THEIR WIVES-- to resume sexual life (cf. RETURN TO YOUR TENTS, proclaimed by, but not to, Moshe, after Israel's sexual separation at Sinai-- Deut. 5:27). When he descended, Noach brought burnt offerings to God; these were favorably received, pleasing God; He resolved never again to destroy the world, due to man's innate evil tendency (Rashi). Agricultural cycles, seasons, normal temperatures, and day and night shall never again cease-- implying that they did cease during the flood, which suspended natural laws; this may throw off modern calculations of the age of fossils, etc.; Orthodox Jewish scientists Aviezer and Schroeder (TOP videos), using Einstein's Theory of Relativity, see perfect correspondence between the 15 billion year universe of Big Bang Theory and God's account of Genesis. Let's interrupt the synopsis and discuss--
If we accept the Darwinian explanation that complex organisms-- the eye, for example-- have been slowly and sometimes independently formed in different zoological phyla, because each of the many steps necessary for their formation was beneficial to the animal in ?, what are we to make of the recent discovery by a Swiss research team that the exact same genetic unit of DNA controls total eye development in fruit flies, human beings and cephalopods, and has been on earth for half a billion years? And how incredible is it, now that we know how incredibly complicated an elementary functioning chain of DNA is (it has been estimated that, if each of the nucleotide bases in each of the 46 human chromosomes were written down as a single letter, every chromosome would fill 100 large dictionaries), to believe that the basic building blocks of life just happened to bump into each other and stay attached by sheer natural selection-aided chance (from Hillel Halkin's brilliant gripping, tho secularly heretical, From Adam or Apes?, JP, 10/11/96-- will Israel's so-called secular humanistic Jews excommunicate him?).
Evolution may be God's way of gradually elevating life; its order is roughly that of Biblical Creation. But common sense rejects it-- if one posits an infinite series of minute random evolutionary changes, the vast majority have little effect on survival; there should be no clearly defined chain of species in the fossil record, but an endless continuum of existence. Darwin thus assumed that the mostly missing links would be found in the yet unexplored world of his era; today we've explored the whole earth and haven't found them. If one posits sudden vast changes, why do we see them only in microscopic creatures today? A much simpler explanation is Body By Fisher-- a Caddy clearly resembles a Chevy, tho more elaborate. It didn't evolve from it, but both have a common designer and basic components.
God cannot properly be called (only) the remote cause of individual things... But all things which are, are in God, and so depend upon HIm that, without Him, they can neither be nor be conceived (a good thought from often sinister Spinoza).
Orthodoxy's variagated positions on evolution are still evolving-- see NATURE & MAN IN THE BIBLE (Y. Feliks, Soncino, 1980) and VISTAS FROM MT. MORIAH (L. Levi, Gur, 1959). Per Feliks, virtually no biologists now question evolution. Maimonides would reinterpret Genesis to harmonize with Plato's eternal universe-- WERE that theory proven correct (Guide 2:25; cf. Kuzari 1:67). Rav A. Kook's comment: "Everyone knows Creation's a mystery; if all the statements are literal, what's the mystery? (Iggeret R'iyah 91)". Feliks cites talmudic passages which harmonize contemporaneous science with the Bible, some being parallels to Darwin's evolutionary theory.
... it would seem to take as much Divine ingenuity to make a human being out of an ape, tripling the latter's brain size, while retaining 99% of its protein structure, in a blink of biological time, as out of a handful of clay... (Halkin)
Rav Kook concluded: "...evolution's more in harmony with kabbala's mysteries than all other philosophical theories (Or Hakodesh 2:555)". "Nothing in Torah is contradicted by worldly knowledge emerging from research. But hypotheses aren't certainties... (Iggeret R'iyah 91)". Felix compares phyloenesis, development of species, and ontogenesis, development of individuals in the embryo, directed forward by an unknown force. The salinity of embryonic weaters is that of oceans, from which earth and life emerged (see our video-- The Miracle of Life; the foetus resembles fish and other creatures at various stages of its development). "And indeed the sages'... broad spectrum of views on Creation... can be applied to any scientific theory...".
It makes little difference to the person of religious sensibility whether evolution can or cannot be modeled mathimatically, without the help of some mysterious "Factor X" (Halkin).
Leo Levi contrasts evolution in science, accumulation of facts, what is, with that in ethics, what ought to be, and in art, how to mold our environment to satisfy. Only science has a prerequisite to belief in evolution-- an acceptable criterion of value, e.g. evidence of our senses and resultant logical conclusions. Ethics are subjective and culture-linked, only determinable by Divine revelation; history show no ethical evolution-- the Holocaust is a product of 20th century "advanced" scientific Western Civilization. Art, satisfaction, too is subjective-- some like Warhohl, some Michelangelo, some kugel and snuff, others Coke & Carvel!
Per Levi (1959), each theory of evolution proves others wrong! Man's demonic unreasonable impulse to explain the universe w/o God makes him accept evolution. Beset by the impossibility of the mechanism of transition, biologist Lecomte du Nouy combines divine interference with contemporary evolution. Levi compares Sinai's sense perceivable Revelation to scientific observation. The Creation story, unlike evolution, is at least not contradicted by observable factors. Adam and Eve were beautiful, wise and ethical beings-- but they and their descendants gradually devolved morally. Baruch Sterman objects both to taking seriously science from the dark ages (i.e. 1959) and to assuming that intelligent committed scientists, who prove evolution from many varied standpoints, are foolish or simplistic (see his TOP video and our B'reshit study).
...unless you allow for an inexplicable element of design in the development of life upon earth, vs. classical Darwinism, evolution may be impossible to account for (Halkin).
D. BACK TO THE SYNOPSIS
God reconfirmed Man's blessing and his mastery of nature. Now so far removed from God, no longer reflecting his own repressed Divine Image, man's no longer revered by animals (cf. Daniel, a true Man, even among lion kings); God had to instill FEAR of man into animals, that they not destroy him; thereafter, "before a wild animal can attack a human being, he must appear to it like an animal" (giving vent to all his passions-- Me'am Loaz on Gen. 9:4). Man could now kill and eat animals (before, at most, he could only eat them, when the angels brought him corned beef sandwiches or when an animal died otherwise) ; some say this is due to Noach & Co. having reached, thru their own efforts (unlike Adam & Co.), the level of RIGHTEOUS-- animals are elevated when, and only when, eaten by a developed Divine Image. Per Rav Moshe Cordevaro, each level of existence-- mineral, plant, and animal-- finds its ultimate destiny by merging into that above it; however, if man hasn't developed himself, the animal so eaten descends to a lower level-- its biological instincts are far superior to man's. The Bostoner Rebbe eats meat only on Shabbat, when he has extra soul power. Some say that Noach & Co. could kill and eat animals as their just due, for saving their lives in the ark. So we raise virtually all animals eaten today-- they simply won't live without a market of carnivores; if you want more chickens to live, eat more chickens! See Munk, Call of the Torah, on 1:29, 9:3; but also see Vegetarianism & The Jewish Tradition, L. Berman and Judaism and Vegetarianism, R. Schwartz. At this point, we'll briefly treat--
E. The 7 Laws of the Sons of Noah
This simple, yet complex, code is the Torah's basic religion for universal man, never ignored by God; the Decalogue is addressed only to the Jews, and includes strict observance of the Sabbath, only commanded to Jews. Per Maimonides, 6 of the 7 categories were commanded to Adam: prohibitions of idol worship, blasphemy, bloodshed, incest and adultery, and robbery, and the duty to set up legal systems and courts. Noah was given #7, not to eat meat of an animal not yet dead (e.g. testicles from castrated bulls; some include an animal which died of itself). Sexual prohibitions are fewer than those of Jews: mother, father's wife, another's wife, maternal sister, and relations with another man or an animal. Thus Lot & Daughters and Amram & his Auntie Yocheved violated no law, tho the Torah later calls all such acts perverse abominations, implicitly urging EVERYONE to follow the Jews; a woman can merely leave, or agree to leave, her husband to effect non-Jewish divorce. Per Ramban, gentiles must master and apply the Torah's civil law system-- one could envision groups of non-Jewish judges studying Choshen Mishpat, ordained as rabbinic civil judges, "yadin, yadin"! Others OK any workable legal system. Noachide laws and traditions, ignored during the long dark ages of persecution of the Jews, must be reclarified and reformulated today, to be readily available for all those who search and seek for an authentic link to God and His guidance. Rav Yoel Schwartz of Jerusalem is active in this area and recently spoke at Root & Branch's Noachide seminars.
Avraham added mitzva #8-- 8th day circumcision for his (& only Sara's?) descendants, and the morning prayer. Yitzchak added tithes and the afternoon prayer; Yaakov added the prohibition against eating the sciatic nerve and the evening prayer. Amram got other commandments in Egypt; Moshe completed the law with 613 mitzvos for His priestly Chosen People, a model Kingdom of Priests and Holy nation (Ex. 19:6; the 613 are mostly contained in Leviticus, Torat Kohanim, The Priestly People's Guide, per Rav D. Hoffman). Maimonides discusses the Noachide Code in MISHNEH TORAH, LAWS OF KINGS AND WARS, Chs. 8-12: no coercion to accept the Law and commandments (of Jews) is applied to non-Jews (cf. The Inquisition, Crusades and the Yemenite Moslem equivalent). But "... Moshe, our teacher was commanded by God to compel all human beings to accept commandments enjoined upon the descendants of Noach... A non-Jew who accepts the 7... will have a portion in the world to come". See our bumper sticker: "Keep the 7, Go to Heaven".
F. The Synopsis Resumed
As man's created in the Divine Image, his murderer so taints his own Image that he deserves death (Rav Ovadia Yosef recently called purveyors of cigarettes "murderers"; should you associate with your local kiosk owner? With the head of Supersol?) . Next comes the command to reproduce-- AND YOU BE FRUITFUL AND MULTIPLY, SWARM IN THE EARTH AND MULTIPLY THEREIN (9:7); similar previous verses were but blessings, to be ABLE to multiply (1:28, 8:17, 9:1-- Rashi, Ramban). This Divine imperative's proximity to the laws of murder equates refusal to procreate with bloodshed (Sforno; Yev. 63b-- cf. ZPG, extreme feminism; the mitzvah was doubly emphasized, as the world was then so empty-- Ramban; cf. Post-Shoah Jewry). Ma'am Loaz derives this command from 1:28: AND THE LORD BLESSED THEM AND THE LORD SAID TO THEM: BE FRUITFUL AND MULTIPLY-- 9:7 is only an exhortation to Noach & Co.; they'd hesitate to have children after seeing mankind go rotten (cf. the courage of holocaust survivors in reestablishing families and the State of Israel). Tho BE FRUITFUL AND MULTIPLY is also said to birds and fish (1:22), the Lord doesn't ADDRESS them with a command-- He merely blesses them, TO SAY BE FRUITFUL...-- they're to "say to themselves": "MULTIPLY", by preprogrammed biological instincts (women too?).
G. TO THE OTHER SIDE, VIA SUICIDE
A suicide is a sentinal who has deserted his post; the nearer the relation to the murdered person, the more heinous the crime... and man is closest to himself (Bachya ibn Pakuda, medieval Jewish philosopher, in Chovot Hal'vavot, 1040, 4:4).
Suicide may be prohibited in 9:5-- "AND EVEN YOUR BLOOD, FROM YOUR SOULS, I SHALL SEEK (an accounting)..." (as translated per Rav Eleazer in B.K. 91b); Gen. Raba (34:13) distinguishes martyrdom to sanctify God's Name from suicide, e.g. Saul in IS31:4 and Chananiah & Co. in Daniel 3; there is no clearer Biblical prohibition of suicide, other than the general prohibition of destruction and waste in Deut. 20:19. Per Ibn Ezra and the Aramaic translations, 9:5 speaks only of homicide. Yet one's body is NOT one's own, but God's (cf. abortion); thus suicide may simply be a sub-catagory of homicide, where the victim's consent is irrelevant (as in Yad, Rotzeach 2:2; so even harming oneself temporarily may be prohibited-- B.K. 91b). When Western Civilization equates murder with a sin against another, rather than against God, euthanasia becomes a mitzva! See Fred Rosner's "Suicide in Biblical, Talmudic and Rabbinic Writings, Tradition 11 (1970); E.J., "Suicide"; The Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, 12:37-8; Sidney Goldstein's Suicide in Rabbinic Lit.; C. W. Reines, The Jewish View of Suicide, Judaism 10, 1961. Arthur Droge and James Tabor note possible exceptions to the ban, e.g. Achitofel and the Jews of Masada, and possibly changing attitudes, in A Noble Death-- Suicide and Martyrdom Among Christians and Jews in Antiquity.
Your health comes first-- you can always hang yourself later (Yiddish proverb).
Me'am Lo'ez notes that suicidal motives may bring one to confess a capital crime that he didn't commit-- thus the court always requires 2 witnesses to convict someone of a capital crime. A suicide loses this world-- things might get better; Merciful God does miracles; where there's life, there's hope! (re painful incurable diseases too?). He also loses the future world, where his restless soul wanders, w/o a portion in the world to come. He also loses mourning-- the usual rules of eulogy and mourning do not apply to him (Y.D. 345); but we heed any doubt of his intentional and sane suicide, e.g. if he didn't verbalize his intent, to give him full burial honors (Sofer's Responsa on Y.D. 326). It follows that one must also avoid danger to life and gradual suicide e.g. rotten food or cigarettes; M.L.'s list of dangerous activity includes eating mixtures of fish and meat (is that true?) and superstitions, e.g. against drinking water when the seasons change, and meeting women following a funeral procession (trying to therefore keep women from funerals in Migdal Amek almost wrecked Rav Grossman's wonderful mission!). Even if one's miraculously saved, he's wasted his Divine Protektzia, which he might need in the future. Suicide was indeed extraordinarily rare among Jews (Ripley, Races of Europe, 1899, p. 385).
God has reserved to Himself the right to determine the end of life, because He alone knows the goal to which it is His Will to lead it. It is for Him alone to justify a life or to cast it away (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran minister executed by the Nazis, tho they themselves were often "inspired" by Luther's virulent hatred of the Jews).
Really With-it Rav Joseph Telushkin wrote Uncommon Sense-- The World's Fullest Compendium of Wisdom, $20 from TOP, from which many quotes in this study are taken-- some are from Baron's Treasury of Jewish Quotations. He discusses suicide: Some religious thinkers have tried to prove LOGICALLY that suicide is worse than murder... But, it is on the grounds of logic that most people reject this argument that suicide is more evil than murder, because, in the case of suicide, the person who is dead wanted to be dead, whereas in the case of murder, the person who is dead wanted to be alive. There is far less opposition to suicide among most secular thinkers. Marya Mannes expressed a characteristic secular view: "The right to choose death when life no longer holds meaning is not only the next liberation, but the last human right (Last Rights)." And statistical studies confirm much higher rates of suicide among nonbelievers.
Suicide is not abominable because God forbids it; God forbids it because it is abominable (Immanuel Kant, lecture at Koenigsberg).
H. THE SYNOPSIS RIDES AGAIN!
History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely-- once they have exhausted all other alternatives (Abba Eban).
God promises not to create great floods again. The PREEXISTENT (per Ramban) natural rainbow is NOW made a sign of this covenant, a "reminder to the parties". It's symbolizes non-destruction-- its hostile bow faces AWAY from Man, "unloaded", with no string attached (not even a silly bright red one from Rachel's Tomb; those who "sell" them could obviously use a blessing themselves); God no longer "aims" His wrath at earth. The rainbow's 7 colors-- red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet-- are all refractions of white. So variegated humans are all in God's Image. The 7 Noachide Laws unite all mankind, the 70 basic cultures, in Torah, as the rainbow its 7 colors (Rav Hirsch, via Rav Riskin). Noach (whose name means "comforter" or "rest") gives man rest from the curse of the earth, via compensatory agricultural technology (per Rashi, 5:29, he invented the plow; cf. Air Conditioning). A MAN OF THE SOIL (9:23), he replants the barren world, starting with a vineyard, reversing priorities; when a Jew sanctifies Shabbat over wine, he reverently covers the bread-- necessity must never be discarded or ignored for pleasure and luxury (Rav J. Soloveichik).
Noach gets drunk, then disgraces himself, possibly nude. Cham's LITTLE (petty or young) son Canaan (per Ralbag), imbued with dad's crude values, gets a kick out of this, mocking and publicizing Noach's disgrace; some say that they had homosexual relations, or that he castrated Noach (see Sporno, Rashi-- should these texts be X-rated?); civilized Shem and Yafes, however, respectfully cover their father, eschewing vulgarity (unlike The Israel Festival and Israel TV); they adopt his good traits, while "covering up" the bad-- but Cham copies Noach's weakness, sensuality, tho already a father himself (Hirsch). Sons reject old fathers in body-centered cultures, as those of Cham's descendants, Egypt and Canaan, Israel's 2 models of degradation (Hirsch-- Eilat's close to Egypt!). The tallis, reminder of our God-link mitzvos, covers our existential vulnerability and nudity.
Noach later curses Canaan, then sole heir of Cham; his descendants will be slaves of (sometimes) fellow slaves, Godly Shem and expanding Yafes-- the body and its enthusiasts are to be guided by the spirit and its masters toward painful freedom. From birth, Canaan will be steeped in the spirit of slavery, and won't even seriously desire freedom. But the inner spirit of the children of Shem and Yafet constantly aspires for freedom, even when enslaved (Haamek Davar; cf. E. Fromm-- Escape From Freedom, E. Hoffer-- The True Believer, and authoritarian religious societies)-- raw sensuality must never rule man (Hirsch). The descendants of Yafes and Cham are briefly noted, including the first Emperor, Nimrod, who leads a rebellion against God.
MY LITTLE BROTHER'S KEEPER: Most anthropologists today confine racial differences to physical features, not innate intellect or virtue, language or culture (but see C. Coon and A. Jensen). The Bible proclaims that all men have the same Heavenly Father and earthly ancestors-- Adam, Eve,and Noah. "For the sake of peace among creatures, the descent of all men is traced back to one individual-- no one can say: `my father's greater than yours'" (San. 4:5-- cf. Jews and Arabs). So Rav N. Cardozo concludes that we must never let our status as God's Chosen People contradict such basic Jewish notions of democracy. Color's irrelevant in determining if one is Jewish or should be accepted as a convert-- cf. Cushite Mrs. Moshe, The Queen of Sheba. Secular "humanist" Voltaire, however, believed that black men were an intermediate species between apes and white men; most 18th and 19th century European anthropologists viewed themselves as part of a superior Aryan race. When the Americans "liberated" Pious XII from his fellow Italian and German Catholics, he demanded that they not post any Negro troops outside the Vatican (from "The Catholic Church, Jews and Israel" by Samuel Fistel, e-mail: Sfistel@erols.com). The Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa and other racists use Noah's curse of Canaan to support apartheid; but nowhere is Canaan identified with black people; only Cushiim, Ethiopians, are so described (Jer. 13:23); Cush is Canaan's brother-- 10:6. In any event, such ancient peoples are no longer extant.
We see no Divine confirmation of Noah's curse. Hirsch takes the "curse" as the burden of those more refined and civilized to direct and lead those less so, their "little or younger brothers", without any particular group singled out; if leaders exploit their followers, they themselves become "Canaan", subject to slavery (cf. Israel's slavery after selling Yosef). In any event, as re Biblical curses on childbirth and livelihood, we should try to alleviate them, to practise empathetic kindness, and hope and pray that man will shape up and no longer need them (Rav M. M.). Rambam, as most leading medieval philosophers and kabbalists, disdained both Jews and non-Jews who were absorbed by their emotions, imagination, physical pleasure and materialism ("fressers"), rather than by intellect (see Introd. to Mishna; Isurei Biah 12:10; B.K. 4:1, Kapach ed.); but isn't the quest for logic itself an emotion? Is Rambam's outlook the opposite of Beshtian chassidut? Did the Rebbe try to combine these paradoxical worldviews in his zealous gung-ho Chabad chassidim, by urging them to study cool dispassionate Rambam between their farbrengin outpourings? The rebbe himself spoke out against using the farbrengen as alcoholic celebrations, claiming that their function was to enable male hassidim to expose their hearts and souls to each other, for mutual criticism and improvement; Rav Steinsaltz then stopped pushing vodka at the farbrengen, probably to Rav Avraham Twersky's vast relief. Such occasions, as Purim feasts, have started haredi kids on the path to substance abuse.
Eli Munk views Shem as the progenitor of both the Semitic peoples and great religious ideas, Cham of the Africans, slaves until recently, and Yafes of the Indo-Eupopean nations and esthetic culture (Call of The Torah). Rav Morris J. Raphall condemned U.S. Southerners' treatment of slaves as things, rather than people, but defended slavery. Some midrashim don't view black as beautiful, e.g. Gen. Raba 36, San. 108b, but one needn't take midrashim literally or legally; they may reflect contemporary secular views, as talmudic "science" and magic (see Avraham b. Maimon's Introd. to the Agada, Trachtenberg's Jewish Magic and Superstition; cf. S. of S. 1:5-- I'M BLACK & BEAUTIFUL, DAUGHTERS OF JERUSALEM). Some apply these midrashim only to the nation of Israel-- when they're immoral, their normally lighter skin turns black and withered with hardship, etc. (cf. Rashi ibid, Eastern European ghettos). We praise God for making variegated creatures upon seeing a very dark, red or white person, a giant or dwarf (Ber. 58b), implying that Negros were rare in Jewish areas during Talmudic times. Blacks might say the blessing upon seeing whites (per traditional heretic and great scholar Louis Jacobs; read Kaffir Boy, the noble tale of one man's self-emancipation from apartheid, by Mark Mathabane)!
Ambition destroys its possessor (Talmud, Yoma 86b)
A TOTTERING TOWER: Post-Eden Mankind now plunges to its next nadir-- the power-mad builders of the UN Tower of Babel, who succeed the degenerate washed-out flood society. God gives Man unity only to merge with His own ultimate unity. But the tower generation united to worship collective Mankind, to conquer God in Heaven, to make themselves a name, a noteworthy identity (11:4)-- but He scattered them and divided the previously unified Hebrew speakers into 70 different language-cultures; they sinned in staying in one place, rather than exploring and settling the whole earth, as they were commanded by God-- AND YOU SHALL FILL THE EARTH (1:28-- Ramban, Ibn Ezra; Jews too?). God doesn't punish these rebels as harshly as the flood generation, due to their human friendship and unity (Maam Loaz; better a peaceful non-observant society than a quarrelsome observant one?-- cf. Vishnitz vs. Vishnitz, Satmar vs. Satmar and everyone else). But some say that their ultimate fate is worse-- excision after death (ibid).
Ambition is bondage (Ibn Gabirol, Mivvchar Hap'nimim, c. 1050, #173)
God does indeed want Man to build a tower to heaven-- the Temple, where man meets Him in praise and thanks. So the Bible-based American astronaut proclaims: IN THE BEGINNING GOD CREATED HEAVEN AND EARTH (1:1); but his Soviet counterpart defiantly denies seeing God out there. Perhaps folks who have developed their talents, tho corrupted by pride, are redeemable, upon receiving suitable chastisement. When man loses self-control, however, sinking into orgiastic abandon, he's finished, "flooded", burnt-out and washed-out (Rav JBS). Our portion concludes with mankind's hope to break the pleasure-power pursuit cycle thru God, via Shem; his culmination, Avram, heads toward Canaan, to begin building a model State of Israel, together with his barren wife Sarai and his pupil-nephew Lot. Just as Noach's birth, at the end of Breshit, heralds the salvation of Adam's world, so Avram's birth and trek, at the end of Noach, begins the redemption of fallen secular Babelian civilization.
Seek you great things for yourself? Seek them not (Jer. 45:5, see 49:16; Ovadia 1:3).
Aleynu, a prayer expressing our messianic mission, closes and culminates all our services-- sensual man, the Flood generation prototype, will redeem himself through blessings, God-links, on his pleasures: ALL MEN OF FLESH WILL CALL IN YOUR NAME; aggressive arrogant man, the Tower Generation prototype, will sanctify power, linking it to God (religious politicians?)-- ALL THE WICKED OF THE EARTH WILL TURN TO YOU (as the sole source of true power-- Rav JBS)-- then: GOD WILL BE KING OVER ALL THE EARTH-- ON THAT DAY GOD WILL BE ONE AND HIS NAME ONE (Zech. 14:9). So the prayer ashrei, recited thrice daily, dwells upon God's kindness to all His creatures, feeding them daily, while patiently awaiting for them to shape up. May we all, as Avraham, emulate Him, while simultaneously fighting those who would destroy others.
Fire ascends and goes out; water descends and is not lost (Berekia Hanakdan, Mishle Hashualim, .1060.
I. THE HAFTARA is ISAIAH 54-55:5
Destruction of a corrupt world is a necessary prelude to a better world, built by Noach & Co., after exile in the ark. So destruction of the corrupt Judean Temple and Monarchy is a prelude to a better world, guided from Israel, by selected survivors of Israel's exile. Nations will realize that seemingly solid civilizations, e.g. Rome and Greece, Germany and the Church, were ephemeral, while the wandering Jew and desolate Israel were rooted in eternity. The whole Jewish people will continue David's mission to connect Man with God-- when they themselves shake off their accumulated alien influences. Awesome enemies of the Jews will be overturned by God, Who created them. Our connection to God more than makes up for our lack of material possessions; it also teaches those blessed with such how to use them for blessing, rather than curse (all the above is per M. Hirsch, S. R. Hirsch's mistakenly anti-zionist, otherwise A-1, son). MY KINDNESS SHALL NOT DEPART FROM YOU... IF ALL YOUR CHILDREN ARE PUPILS OF GOD-- THEN GREAT (will be) THE PEACE OF YOUR CHILDREN (the Arabs will then join us, proud to help noble Israel; meanwhile, an unredeemed Israel, its souls molded and tainted by tawdry Western TV, may have to make degrading peace treaties with murderers; but if the PLO doesn't even condemn and prevent acts of Hamas terrorism, there's little hope for the future. Jordan may be a better peace partner, despite King Hussain's propaganda films on behalf of Saddam Hussain, and Jordan's destruction of so many Jewish holy sites in Jerusalem from 1948-67.
J. SAINTS SIN TOO!
Rav Dovid Hertzberg, a fan of Nachman of Breslav, "The Tortured Master", quotes The Shpoler Zade, a famous vehement hassidic opponent and detractor of Nachman of Breslav: "One of the greatest rabbinic contributions to Judaism was that of those rabbis who found fault with Noach, who is nevertheless called tzadik (righteous man). Were we to insist that tzadikim be perfect, we'd have no tzadikim."
Rav Yehuda Henkin questions Noach's appellations-- TZADIK, Righteous, and TAMIM, Perfect. He got drunk and committed vulgar acts. True, THERE'S NO MAN RIGHTEOUS IN THIS EARTH (involved in life) WHO DOES GOOD (is an activist) AND NEVER SINS (misses the mark-- Ecc. 7:20)-- even the patriarchs and Moshe. But their "sins" are but delicate mistakes in judgement or impatience. Lot sleeps with his 2 daughters when drunk (Ch. 19)-- he's not called a tzadik, tho he was Avraham's aide, visited by angels. But Noach didn't deny his sin-- when he awoke, he knew what he'd done, confessed, cursed his son, and never did it again. A true tzadik is a spiritual prize fighter, who springs back when he's occasionally almost knocked out, even by gross sin (cf. trivial allegations that a truly great chief rabbi once kissed a woman; a perpetually angry, proud and petulant rabbi, however, is a net loss). But Lot so deeply represses his sin that he repeats it. Indeed, Lot might shun a public sinner like Noach! We often see such "tzadikim" today; they always suspect others of alleged sins, which they themselves either crave or commit, but whose very memory they repress (you must read The Yeshiva and Rabbis and Their Wives by Chaim Grade, the I. B. Singer of the Misnagdic world).
YF: So some "holy mystics" think all day about how not to think about sex, reciting special Psalms, staying indoors, etc. Some ardently pro-life rabbis even praise Lot's daughters for wanting to start a brave new world, in the only way they believed to be feasible, incest with their father-- cf. Noachide incest laws above. Noach indeed is the only person the Torah calls "Tzadik", which may only mean, however, "a decent person", in contrast to others in his age. So he who's judged correct in a law suit is called "tzadik" and his opponent "rasha", evil (Deut. 25:1). True Torah Giants, e.g. Moshe and Avraham, are called "servants of God", "humble" (Num. 12:3,7-8), "those with awesome God-awareness" (Gen. 22:12), etc. So Rambam (M. T. Tshuva 3:1), whose mother died bearing him, labels one 51% good, 49% evil a "tzadik", v.v., a "rasha". He claims that our Father Upstairs values only pious giants of intellect (Introduction to the Mishna, end), ignoring even other types of spiritual leaders, of a less intellectual bent; so his own father only loved him when he became a great intellect (see Shalshelet Hakabala); but great hassidim, e.g. the Besht, often call spiritual-emotional giants true tzadikim, tho they are virtually illiterate! (cf. S. Carlebach's holy beggers).
K. THE BIRTH OF THE NATIONS
In Parshat Breshit, the Torah reviews Adam and Eve's descendants and their gradual development of civilization; but there's no mention of their being organized as nations, only cities. After the flood, all mankind descends from Noach's 3 sons (9:19). They eventually spread out and form nations, "islands" of humanity, with distinctive cultures and dialects (l'shonot-- Hirsch; Aramaic and Arabic?-- 10:5) of their one language (safa), Hebrew; their nations have clearcut borders (10:19-20, 31-2). Per Hirsch, mankind's gradual healthy change and differentiation, via new suburbs and dialects, is suddenly greatly accelerated, blatant and divisive, when God so confuses their languages that they can no longer understand each other, and scatters them far from each other. Many charming and beautiful young American haredi couples, even Satmar, likewise gradually become modern, laid-back, curious and pleasant, as the horrors of Europe recede into history; but they don't suffer the terrible disruption, confusion, decline and decay of earlier immigrants, who indiscriminately jettisoned tradition for modernity-- compare Goodbye Columbus with The Chosen. In upcoming sheets, I'll discuss The Japanese and the Jews and Arab Nationalism, the Good Lord Willing.
L. THE BOTTOM LINE
RAV J. SOLOVEICHIK VIEWS THE FLOOD AND TOWER GENERATIONS AS ARCHETYPES OF SOCIETIES ESTRANGED FROM GOD AND EDEN; A CIVILIZATION BASED ON THE PURSUIT OF PLEASURE DISINTIGRATES; IT IS REPLACED BY ONE UNITED IN THE QUEST OF COLLECTIVE HUMAN POWER, EVENTUALLY SPLIT UP AND SCATTERED BY GOD, WHOSE KINGSHIP THEY'RE FORCED TO RECOGNIZE. AFTER WWII, THE PLEASURE-SEEKING WESTERN WORLD DECAYED FROM WITHIN, AND GOD PUNCTURED THE INFLATED BALLOON OF THE EASTERN COMMUNIST BLOC'S FACADE OF ATHEIST POWER AND UNITY-- NOW IS THE TIME FOR ALL ISRAEL TO SHAPE UP IN ISRAEL AND DO AVRAHAM'S JOB-- TO BRING ALL MANKIND BACK TO EDEN.
Better Red than dead (Bertrand Russell, a slogan of pacifist and antinuclear groups). Better to be dead than a scoundrel (Alexander Solzhenitsyn-- Warning to the West).
SOME WORKS ON THE NOACHIDE CODE AVAILABLE FROM TOP
ISRAEL AND THE NATIONS, by E. Benemozegh and Amie Palliere, founders of the modern Noachide Movement, $35 (it includes a defense of the antiquity of the Zohar). A LIGHT TO THE NATIONS, Y. Schwartz (Hebrew, English, Spanish, French, German or Arabic), $12. THE PATH OF THE RIGHTEOUS GENTILE, C. Corfine, $13. BNEI NOACH, from The Talmudic Encyclopedia, $5. We also offer Noahide study sheets, bumper stickers and kippot. Videos on RALPH MADDEN'S NOACHIDE EXPERIENCE, RAV KENNETH AUMEN'S NOACHIDE TEACHINGS, and THE U.S. NOACHIDE MOVEMENT are $30 each. Rav N. Bulman's outstanding Tennessee audiotape on Judaism & Universal Man is $7.
In Memoriam: We mourn the recent loss of two great Jews-- Prof. Reuben Zubrow, a leading economist at the University of Colorado, my uncle and early role-model, dedicated his life to improve America's governmental and social structure and to develop his many students, who were deeply attached to him. Rav Dr. Isadore (Yitzchak) Twersky did so much to blend true Jewish tradition with Jewish scholarship; his many disciples are both leaders in the world of Jewish academic scholarship and fully committed Jews. My son Danny, who apparently sensed Rav Twersky's hassidic spiritual depth at the age of four, used to enthusiastically sit next to him at Seuda Shlishit at the Tolner shul in Brookline, Mass. May their memories continue to inspire their fine families, friends and disciples.
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