October 24th, 2020

6th of Cheshvan 5781


The Merciful One Wants Your Heart

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

"This is how you should make it" (Bereishit 6:15)

Chazal expound (Mechilta Shemot 12:2) on the verse, "This month shall be for you", that the wording 'this' teaches that Moshe Rabbeinu found it hard to grasp how the moon should appear at the beginning of the month until Hashem showed him an image of what it should look like. We also find this expression concerning making the Menorah, as it says, "This is the workmanship of the Menorah", and similarly concerning the mitzvah of giving half a shekel it says, "This shall they give. All these expressions share the same sentence structure, with the word "this" implying that Hashem showed them with His finger, meaning Hashem had to show Moshe the form because it was a complicated matter.

According to this, it is hard to understand what difficulty Noach had with building the Teivah. Did it require a special expertise that Noach could not fathom how to build it, to the extent that Hashem had to show him? From the wording of the verse "This is how you should make it", it is clear that Hashem showed him an image of how it should look. However, what was the difficulty in building a simple Teivah? If one wishes to say that maybe Noach was not proficient in the art of creating, it cannot be, for his father Lemech named him so saying, "This one will bring us rest (ינחמנו ) from…the toil of our hands" (Bereishit 5:29). Rashi explains that this was said in reference to the invention of farming tools (which brought them relief), which was attributed to Noach. This shows us that Noach was skilled in construction, if so it seems surprising that Hashem had to show him an image of how the Teivah should look. The main goal of the Teivah was that it should be a place of refuge for men and animals, it contained no inherent intentions or difficult-to-understand allusions, so what was Noach's difficulty?

With siyata dishmaya I would like to suggest that Noach's difficulty was in grasping how the Teivah could contain and accommodate all the animals, seven of each pure species and two of each impure species, while the size of the Teivah was, in all, only three hundred amot in length and fifty amot in width (approx. 150 x 25 meters). Besides, how would there be room in the Teivah for enough provisions for each animal for an entire year? Noach also grappled with the difficulty of being able to nourish, on his own, all the numerous animals in the Teivah. Some animals eat in the morning, some in the afternoon, and others at night. If so, this would hardly leave time for him to rest!

Furthermore, how would the Teivah itself survive the boiling waters of the Flood and not fall apart from the extreme heat which rose to several thousand degrees? How would the pitch with which the Teivah was covered, not melt? Noach was also commanded to make a window for the Teivah, as it says (Bereishit 6:16), "A window shall you make for the Ark". Why was the door of the Teivah not enough? And concerning the re'eim (a giant beast) and Og king of the Bashan (a giant), Noach wondered how they would manage to enter the Teivah due to their size. Chazal tell us (Zevachim 113b) that a miracle was performed for the re'eim and Og, and the waters at the side of the Teivah cooled down and that is where they stood. Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer (Chapter 23) brings that Og king of the Bashan sat on one of the steps of the ladders of the Teivah and swore to Noach and his sons that he will be an eternal slave to them. What did Noach do? He punctured a hole at the side of the Teivah through which he sent food to Og every day, and that is how he survived, as it says, "For only Og king of the Bashan was left of the remaining Rephaim" (Devarim 3:11). All these quandaries made it hard for Noach to understand how to proceed with making the Teivah.

So Hashem showed and taught him how to build the Teivah, together with strengthening his great faith in Hashem Yitbarach. With each board of wood, Noach pledged his faith and trust in Hashem that He will sustain the Teivah, and annulled his own intellect and understanding of how his construction of the Teivah will help save him and the world. Only through the power of the great faith that he had in the Creator, were those miracles performed for him and he both survived and endured life in the Teivah. For had he built the Teivah while his heart was full of doubts in Hashem, then G-d forbid the Teivah would not have survived and this could have endangered the entire world. Therefore, Hashem had to guide him in constructing the Teivah so that it should be built without reservations and with complete faith in Hashem, and indeed Noach believed wholly in the Creator of the World. Even though Chazal tell us that Noach's faith was less than perfect as he believed and did not believe that the Flood would come to the world. No doubt only because of his elevated level, Heaven was more meticulous with him but certainly, he possessed great faith and the proof is that the Teivah did not sink and he and all those with him in the Teivah were saved.

This teaches us that Hashem performs miracles for a person in accordance with the degree of his faith. This is the implication of "Hashem is your protective Shade at your right hand" (Tehillim 121:5). Trust and faith in Hashem are comparable to a person's shadow. Just as if a person straightens up one finger opposite his shadow he will see only one finger, and if he lifts up his entire hand, he will see the reflection of his entire hand, so it is the same with trust in Hashem. If one has a small amount of faith in Hashem, He shows him a small amount of His Divine Providence, and if he has great faith, he experiences a great measure of Divine Providence.

In conclusion, the foundation upon which the world is based, is faith and trust in Hashem. This is the meaning of "But the righteous person shall live through his faith" (Chabakuk 2:4). May it be His will that we strengthen ourselves greatly in this holy approach of faith and trust in Hashem Yitbarach, Amen v'Amen.

Guard Your tongue

Not Being Meticulous About Observing a Custom

It is forbidden to relate that someone transgressed a commandment, regardless if it is a Torah or Rabbinical obligation, or even a restrictive safeguard that the Sages established, or even just an accepted custom. The Torah views these acts in a negative light, therefore relating the matter involves detrimental speech.

Therefore, one is forbidden to relate that someone transgressed a certain halacha, even in the case where many people are not meticulous about observing this halacha.

Walking in Their Ways

Praying for the Success of the Operation

One who tries to fill his days and years with Torah and Yirat Shamayim, and strengthens himself with complete faith in Hashem the G-d of Israel, then Hashem adds days to his life and grants him health, nachat and peace of mind so that he can continue in his holy service.

I heard the following story about an elderly gentleman whose life was in grave danger r"l, and was about to undergo a most complicated operation. The Chinese surgeon explained that the chances of the operation being successful were extremely slight. However, the elderly Jew who believed in Hashem with complete faith, asked the doctor to say a few words before commencing the operation: "With G-d's help the operation should be successful"…

At first, the doctor laughed at the sick man's request and said, "I am not Jewish and do not believe in anything besides medicine, and the medical prognosis is that there are the minutest chances that you will survive this complicated operation". However, the patient did not let up and passionately begged the doctor to recite those words. The doctor, realizing that he was facing an innocent individual who was totally convinced of his faith, eventually relented even though he was a complete heretic. When the patient woke up after the operation was over, these were the words with which the doctor addressed him: "You should know that your life was given to you as a gift. The operation was successful beyond all expectations, despite the complications being even more significant than the original diagnosis. Besides, throughout the operation, I felt that my hands were moving as if on their own, and an unseen Upper Hand was in fact working on you and saving your life." The doctor added to the surprised patient, "I am sure that the words I recited as per your request, that the operation should be successful with G-d's help, were the cause of the operation's success, and I am prepared to promise that from now on, before any feat that I carry out, I will ask for G-d's help." Indeed, with Hashem's kindness, this elderly man, who seemingly had little chance of surviving, lived for many more years.

From this impressive story, we learn that there can be a reality where indeed the time has come for a person to pass away, as was the case with this sick man who was critically ill and under natural circumstances had no chance of surviving the complicated operation. But since his faith in Hashem was so great, and he thereby merited strengthening the non-Jewish surgeon's faith in the G-d of Israel, he therefore merited that Hashem granted him long life since for this kind of person, it is fitting and desirable to add days to his life.

May it be His will that we all merit serving our Creator sincerely and completely. May Hashem increase our days and years of a good life so that we may serve Him, Amen v'Amen.

Words of the Sages

Eating Fish on Shabbat Noach is a Segulah for a Good Life

Eating gourmet fish on this Shabbat of Parshat Noach is a timely act, and is certainly auspicious for a good life. For it became clear that everything that was on dry land died, but the fish of the sea did not die, as the Midrash tells us (Bereishit Rabba 32:11), "'of everything that was on dry land, died', this implies that the fish did not die".

This wonderful segulah of meriting 'good life' by eating fish on Shabbat Parshat Noach, is mentioned in the name of Rabbi Avraham Eiger of Lublin zt"l ('Shevet m'Yehuda'). It correlates with the wonderful statement that emanated from the pure mouth of the holy 'Ateret Tzvi' of Ziditshov zt"l: "Rabbi Shlomoleh of Karlin would say that one who does not eat fish in honor of the holy Shabbat, should be more concerned than the matter about which Chazal say (Yoma 88a) that one should be concerned the entire year. I add to this that one who eats fish in honor of the holy Shabbat, does not need to worry at all in the coming week."

The holy Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov zt"l also promises a three-fold blessing to those who eat fish on Shabbat. As he writes in his sefer 'Bnei Yissachar' (Ma'amarei Shabbatot 1:11): "A reason for this choice mitzvah of eating fish on Shabbat, is that we find in the work of creation that a blessing was given to three things, on three consecutive days. A blessing for the fish on the fifth day, a blessing for man on the sixth day and a blessing for Shabbat on the seventh day. As we know, a three-ply thread will not quickly unravel, so man who eats fish in honor of Shabbat will be blessed with a three-fold blessing and will not quickly be severed."

The 'Dorshei Reshumot' also explains that this matter is hinted to in the words sung by the sweet singer of Israel (Tehillim 23:2) "In lush meadows He lays me down". The Hebrew word 'דשא ', meadows, is an acronym for 'דגים, שבת, אדם ', fish, Shabbat, man, meaning that these three items enable receiving the three-fold blessing on the day of rest. This is implied by the continuation of the verse "in tranquil waters He leads me", meaning the tranquility of Shabbat.

Why specifically was fish chosen as a Shabbat delicacy? Rabbeinu Yosef Chaim of Bavel zya"a, in his sefer 'Ben Yehoyoda', quotes the Midrash, "'Of everything that was on dry land, died', this implies that the fish of the sea did not die", and explains that fish was chosen as a Shabbat delicacy to teach us that the fire of Gehinom does not have power on Shabbat, just as the fire of the hot waters of the Flood had no power over the fish, in the generation that was judged with boiling water."

The Haftarah

The Haftarah of the week: "Sing out, O barren one" (Yeshaya 54)

The connection to the Parsha: In his prophecy, Yeshaya mentions the Flood where Hashem swore never to bring another flood, "For [like] the waters of Noach this shall be to Me", and the Flood is the central topic of Parshat Noach.

Ashkenazim add the chapter, "O afflicted, storm-tossed one".

From the Treasury

Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

The Generation of the Flood Sinned Intentionally and Consistently

The Mekubalim tell us that the generation of the Flood possessed exceedingly elevated and holy souls and they had the power to strive spiritually and achieve the highest level in the service of Hashem.

But Chazal have told us that one who is greater than his friend, his Evil Inclination is proportionally greater. This is how the Yetzer Hara was victorious and succeeded in defeating them, bringing them down to the depths and leaving them bereft of the ability to climb out. One who sins purposely and intends to be wicked, and despite recognizing the Creator he deliberately rebels against him, Hashem hates him and wishes to annihilate him, as it says (Malachi 1:2-3), "yet I loved Ya'akov. But I hated Esav". Generally, even the wicked Hashem does not hate but rather waits for them to repent and return to Him, as children who return to their father's lap. If so, why here does Hashem say "But I hated Esav"?

The answer is that Ya'akov and Esav originally studied Torah together, and certainly on Shabbat when all of them sat around the Shabbat table, both Ya'akov and Esav merited observing the holy and righteous conduct of the Avot. Ya'akov Avinu a"h indeed absorbed from them an immense measure of holiness, Torah, and Yirat Shamayim. Esav too was given all the conditions to be righteous and pious like his brother Ya'akov, but he intentionally and deliberately did not want to draw upon the holiness of the Avot, and his heart did not want to absorb the purity of their spirit. He chose the path of evil for himself as a way of life. He wished to live a life of abandon and debauchery even though he knew and recognized the correct path, the path of Torah.

This kind of person who is deliberately wicked, Hashem cannot bear him for he is not compelled to act in this way, he does not sin unintentionally. Esav knew the Creator yet nevertheless purposely rebelled against him, and this is why Hashem said, "But I hated Esav".

This was also the case with the generation of the Flood. They too sinned intentionally and persistently turned away from the path of Hashem, knowingly and deliberately. Even though they were aware of their merits, and knew that they possessed elevated and powerful souls and that they were descendants of Adam HaRishon who was Hashem's handiwork, and also merited seeing Cain repent and observed the sign that Hashem inscribed on his forehead. They nevertheless sinned and committed the most serious sins and distanced themselves from Hashem purposely and with insolence. That is why Hashem hated them and wished to wipe out their name from the world, for Hashem said, what do I gain from giving them life, they will continue to sin against Me and transgress My will and disregard My Torah. Therefore "I will blot out Man whom I created from the face of the ground".

Pearls of the Parsha

Righteous and Perfect Versus Righteous Alone

"These are the offspring of Noach, Noach was a righteous man, perfect in his generations" (Bereishit 6:9)

Here the verse testifies about Noach "righteous man, perfect" and later on (ibid 7:1) it says "Then Hashem said to Noach, 'Come to the Ark, you and all your household, for it is you that I have seen to be righteous before Me in this generation". Rashi quotes the Gemarah that from here [the fact that Noach is described as righteous alone] we learn that one only says part of a person's praise in his presence.

The Beit Yosef explains the change in the description of Noach in this way: Noach lived for several generations. He lived through the generation of the Flood and also the generation of the Dispersion. In the generation of the Flood, the main test was immorality, while the generation of the Dispersion sinned by denying Hashem's existence.

The measure of a righteous person (tzaddik) is one who constrains himself from immorality, just as Yosef Hatzaddik was called so because he withstood the test of holiness. However, the description 'perfect' (tamim) is awarded to one who conducts himself with perfect faith, as it says, "You shall be wholehearted with Hashem, your G-d".

At the beginning of the Parsha the Torah describes Noach as "a righteous man, perfect in his generations", for throughout the generations that Noach lived, he was both a 'tzaddik', during the generation of the Flood when he constrained himself from immorality and 'tamim' (perfect) during the generation of the Dispersion when he withstood the test of heresy. However, later on when Hashem spoke to him just before he entered the Teivah during the generation of the Flood, the verse says "for it is you that I have seen to be righteous before Me in this generation" for in this particular generation of the Flood, the description of tzaddik was appropriate.

They Could Not Be Punished Through Their Money

"For the earth is filled with robbery" (Bereishit 6:13)

Rashi writes, "Their decree was sealed only because of robbery". They committed other seemingly more serious sins such as immorality and idolatry, so why was their decree sealed specifically because of robbery?

The 'Yalkut Hagirshuni' writes that it is known that the Merciful One does not inflict people straight away, as we find with the affliction of tzara'at. At first, a person finds the affliction on his house, after that on his clothing and if he still does not repent, only then will his body be afflicted. If so, why here with the generation of the Flood did Hashem not harm their money first? Why was it decreed right away that they be annihilated from the world?

The answer is since their money wasn’t theirs! All they possessed was stolen property, so there was no other possibility but to punish the people themselves. Now we understand why their decree was sealed on account of robbery. It was robbery that left no option but to obliterate them.

The Accuser Himself is Brazen

"And the earth had become filled with robbery" (Bereishit 6:11)

The sefer 'Pirchei Shoshana', written by a talmid of Maran the Chafetz Chaim, quotes a nice explanation that he heard from the Gaon and tzaddik, the Chafetz Chaim zt"l. He questioned, the generation of the Flood transgressed serious sins such as idolatry and immorality which are more severe than robbery, so why was their decree sealed specifically because of robbery?

He answered according to a Chazal, "A basket full of sins, which sin is the first to indict? Robbery". Why particularly robbery? He explains the reason according to the Mishna (Avot 4:11) "He who fulfills even a single mitzvah gains himself a single advocate, and he who commits even a single transgression gains himself a single accuser." The angel that is created from the mitzvah or transgression, is created in the same way that the act was committed, for example a mitzvah performed with alacrity creates an agile angel, and one who performs a mitzvah sluggishly creates a sluggish angel, and so forth in all situations.

The act of robbery is usually committed with brazenness, therefore the accusing angel that is created from this act is also brazen. It is possible that even though in a basket full of sins there are many different accusers, nevertheless none of them is so impetuous as to accuse because they were not created with the attribute of brazenness. It is only the brazen angel that was created from robbery who is impetuous. This is why in the generation of the Flood, robbery accused first and foremost, and because of it the decree was sealed.

A Novel Look at the Parsha

The Torah tells us that the Flood was on the earth for forty days, and during those forty days all earthly life ceased, as it says (Bereishit 7:21-22), "And all flesh that moves upon the earth expired…All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, of everything that was on dry land, died". In addition, it also says, (ibid 7:23), "And he blotted out all the existence that was on the face of the ground, from man to animals to creeping things and to the birds of the heavens; and they were blotted out from the earth".

Rabbeinu Chaim ben Attar zya"a, in his holy sefer 'Ohr Hachaim', explains that besides the expiration that is mentioned in the first verse, all the remains of the dead were also wiped away through the profusion of hot and cold water. All the corpses became like water and it appeared as if they had never existed.

With this, apparently, the role of the Flood came to an end.

But the Torah writes differently. "And the waters strengthened on the earth a hundred and fifty days" (ibid 24). Meaning, for another one hundred and fifty days the waters continued increasing on the earth, until "G-d remembered Noach and all the beasts and all the animals that were with him in the Ark, and G-d caused a spirit to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided. The fountains of the deep and the windows of the heavens were closed, and the rain from heaven was restrained." (Bereishit 8:1-2).

What was the purpose of this additional rain?

The Holy Ohr Hachaim goes on to explain: "The intention was to announce that Hashem commanded the waters to strengthen. When Hashem commanded the waters in the Six Days of Creation, "Let the waters teem" (ibid 1:20), so too now He commanded them to increase. That is why we find that after the entire universe was wiped out, the verse says "and the waters strengthened", although this was seemingly unnecessary for even the corpses of the creatures had been wiped out.

The true reason why the waters strengthened is simply that the waters were engaged in fulfilling the command which Hashem had ordered them, and they were not supposed to find reasons why not to strengthen even though the entire universe had already been wiped out.

Just like the waters of the Flood, we too are obligated to fulfill Hashem's wish without making all kinds of calculations and without trying to understand the purpose behind fulfilling various mitzvot.

I Cannot Do Such a Thing

The sefer "Sha'al Avicha V'yagedcha" brings the following story, which proves that if a person is determined to observe Hashem's commands just as he was instructed without changing an iota, or trying to adapt them to the reality of life, as we see fit, he merits special Divine Assistance.

In the first year of his Rabbinical leadership as the Rav of Brisk, a Jew was caught transgressing the law and was sentenced to death. According to the government regulations, anyone sentenced to death was given the opportunity of reciting a confession before he was killed. A Jewish person recited vidui with his Rav, and l'havdil, a non-Jew with a priest.

And that is what happened in this case too.

At the appointed time of execution, in the midst of the Shabbat day, a special messenger was sent to the Brisker Rav, in the name of the regional governor, who presented him with a document ordering him to accompany the messenger to the jail to recite vidui with the Jew who was sentenced to death.

When the Rav saw the order, he replied shortly and forcefully: "I am not going."

And why did the Rav refuse? He was of the opinion that by going and saying vidui with the offender, this would hasten his death, for until he says vidui they would not kill him.

His refusal was firm and uncompromising. When they tried to explain that if he does not accompany the messenger, the government will order a different Rav to come, he replied, "If they do this, I cannot stop them, but as for myself, I am not doing such a thing since it is forbidden according to Torah law.

The messenger left and returned to the governor empty-handed. On hearing the turn of events the governor was filled with rage and hurried to send a more senior official to the Rav's home.

He arrived and not only forcefully demanded that the Rav accompany him to the prisoner, but also added harsh, serious threats and told him unequivocally that he will suffer for his refusal, for as a Rav he is obligated to carry out the instructions of the law.

But he too returned empty-handed and told the governor that the Brisker Rav had not changed his mind.

On hearing these words, the governor flew into a rage and personally went over to the Rav's home.

When the townspeople saw the governor's carriage outside the Rav's home, they were filled with dread. They surrounded the Rav shouting, "The Rav is bringing destruction to the town! The Rav is putting all of us into danger!"

But the Rav remained firm and did not change his mind. He once again made it clear to them that it does not occur to him to transgress a Torah command for the sake of fulfilling this order.

Indeed, even when the governor stood before him and gave over the order in addition to warnings and open threats that he will be punished for his refusal with the full severity of the law, the Rav was not deterred and did not accede to his demand.

Filled with anger, the governor left the Rav's home without adding another word.

The congregants remained in the Rav's room, frightened and expecting the worst…

The News; Pardon was Granted

Within a short time, the entire town of Brisk was in an uproar. There were those who sided with the Rav and those in opposition. There were some congregants who agreed with the Rav's decision not to deviate one iota from the Torah law, and others who forcefully claimed that he was obligated to carry out the governor's order despite the Torah law, so as not to endanger the rest of the congregants.

But both sides never imagined what would happen a few hours later, in the form of a telegram that arrived at the governors' home on Motzei Shabbat, informing him of the astonishing news that pardon had been granted to the Jew who had been sentenced to death!

Now everyone understood that if not for the Rav's stubbornness, that pardon would not have been applicable… It was specifically the Rav's uncompromising devotion to Hashem's command that saved a Jewish life! (Umatok Ha'or)


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