Noach 5774 – Gilayon #819


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Parshat Noah

They came

to Noah into the ark, two each of all flesh in which there was a breath of life.

(Noach 7:15)


They came.

It is a miracle that they all came to Noah, as most animals flee from man and flee

from enclosures and love freedom. It is also a miracle that only two of each species

came and not more, and that all the species came and none were missing.

(Malbim, ibid)


Man is revealed here in his entire splendor.

All the animals came to him and to be rescued by him.

(Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, ibid)


All the flesh in which there was a breath

of life. He says here all the flesh, And also all the

flesh in which there was a breath of life. Up until this time, man was

not permitted to kill a living creation for meat. Noah was the first who was permitted.

In theory, this seemed very cruel as they were saved by Noah. Seeing that they were

saved by him, they understood that he did them a service. From being beasts of burden,

Noah elevated them to living beings with intelligence and speech. Noah was merciful

to them.

And the sacrifice of Judah and Jerusalem

will be pleasant and harmonious to God – In the future,

the abundance of knowledge will spread and permeate even in animals. "You

shall not defile on all of my holy mountain, as the whole earth is full of His knowledge,"

and the sacrifice then that will be the offering will be from produce, "will

be pleasing to the Lord, as in the days of old and as in former years."

(Olat Hare"yah, p. 292)



All who are thirsty, come for water

Dalia Marx

Large and small signs of

life and heralding of the seasons are encoded in the prayers of Israel.

The prayers signal the changing of the seasons, the daily times and the years and

enable those who pray to anchor themselves in a world that is felt at times perplexing.

An example of change in nature that the prayers give expression to is the division

of the Hebrew year to a rainy season and a dry season.

We have just celebrated

the Feast of Sukkot when we are "judged through water." (Rosh Hashanah 1:2) During the Second Temple

period, the rituals linked to pouring the water on the altar were the highlight

of the holiday. The ceremonies were called "The Joy of Drawing the Water."

At the conclusion of the holiday, on Shmini Atzeret, we recite the Prayer for Rain.

And thus, we have marked the beginning of the rainy season. From now until Passover

we mention the rains in the blessing "gvurot" in our prayers, and turn

to God "who causes the wind to blow and the rain to fall." Next

week or to be more exact, the 7th of Marheshvan, the hope for rain is

reinforced in our prayers and we add "request for rain", that is the request,

"and give us dew and rain for a blessing."

Many times I ask myself

what did our grandfathers and grandmothers, who asked for rain in Europe, which is overflowing with lakes and rivers, and is

rainy anyway, think. Could they feel the existential angst of the composers

of our prayers for the inhabitants of the Land of Israel

who were dependent on the rain for their livelihood and dreaded a drought? In the

Land of Israel, however, there is no doubt that the

prayers for rain were said out of a real apprehension, with a worrisome peak at

the sky and the land. Rav Yehudah, one of the Talmudic scholars, expressed the importance

of rain when he said: "A day of rain is as great as the day the Torah was given."

Rabbah exceeded him by saying: "More than the day the Torah was given,"

while Rav Hunah said: "The day of rain is greater than the day of the rising

of the Dead, because the rising up of the dead is for the righteous, while the rainy

day is for the righteous and the sinners (Bavli Taanit 7:7).

In most cases, for us,

rain is a blessing, but here, too, there are floods and deluges of the Ayalon Highway, when

there is not much difference from the waterbeds of the Judean desert. Precisely,

this week, the time between "mentioning" the rain and "asking

for the rain "Parashat Noach is timely, where the narrative of the flood

and the description of the water that was so strong that it obliterated the signs

of life on earth is read. Although God promised not to curse the land again with

a flood, the sages also saw a need to set a textual response to the dangerous waters

in the Parsha. This response is found in the language of the Haftarah1 with the glorious cry of the prophet "All

who are thirsty, come for water!" (Isaiah 55:1) The sages associated between

water and Torah, explaining that the thirst is for words of Torah. But we can read

it as the pshat, the literal meaning for what it is, may all that are thirsty,

come to the waters and quench your thirst. Not merely are these words spoken in

the prophecy. We know that this is not such a simple thing; living waters were not

available to everyone in the past, nor are they available to everyone in the present.

This Shabbat, we find ourselves

between "the reminder" that the nature of the world in this season

is to bring rain, between the "requesting of the rain" that bears

witness to the fact that we should not take rain for granted and not always are

the rains a blessing in their season; Between the waters of the flood that punish,

destroy and kill and the waters that we ask to quench, "All who are thirsty"

– This is an opportunity to reflect on the significance of water for us.

We associate water with purity and cleanliness, but is this always the case? In

her article in the book Parshat Hamayim, the environmental quality investigator,

Mirale Goldstein writes:


in the waters of the mikveh is a physical symbol of spiritual purification. The

power of the symbol derives from the understanding that water is clean and has the

capacity to wash away contaminants. But what if we are afraid of untreated water?

We associate water in nature with a risk of disease. Most of what contaminates water

cannot be seen. Some of the causes of pollution are ancient and familiar, such as

sewage. But others, such as industrial chemicals and pharmaceuticals, are frighteningly

unfamiliar. Moreover, humans have created and disseminated these dangerous pollutants.

This state of affairs raises ancient questions about the relationship between physical

and spiritual purity to a new level. Can we be spiritually pure if our physical

surroundings are impure? Can we partake of the holiness of mikveh if we have desecrated

the waters that fill the mikveh?

This and more. If water

is linked in our religious consciousness to justice as it said, "But let

justice well up like water, righteousness, like an unfailing stream"

(Amos 5:25)

how can we explain the fact that more than a billion people in this world do not

have access to proper drinking water, and how does it happen in our modern era,

that millions die every year from water-borne diseases and its absence. All this

is occurring while in the wealthy countries people are wasting water every day on

Jacuzzis, sumptuous baths and on empty luxuries. It should be said, nonetheless,

that the Israeli public is significantly different from the other developed countries.

We are aware of the need to save water, many are interested in the water level of

the Sea of Galilee and the awareness of "pity

on every drop" is not an empty slogan in our houses. But most of the big questions

connected to water and its usage beg to be answered.

Goldstein adds: "Technology

has given us the power to manipulate natural processes. With this power we adopted

an attitude that we could and should manipulate them. As a result of this attitude

we have damaged nature at every scale, from the local wetland to the global climate."

And as we all know, with a lot of power come a lot of responsibility.

Environmental groups have

set this Shabbat, Parshat Noach, as a Shabbat for public awareness of environmental

issues. It seems that the Israeli awareness of water, its availability, its quality

and the struggle to produce and acquire it, is presented in the civil discourse

more often than in other Western countries. But this awareness is not enough, neither

from a strategic perspective nor from an ethical point of view – we must remind

ourselves that water is God’s blessing; We cannot take it for granted, and if we

desire to control it, we must do this out of the recognition of the distresses that

are linked to water and the question of justice that flows from the need for it,

especially in an arid zone like ours.

Waters teach us a lesson

in modesty – such a simple substance, with no color or shape – grasps the key

to life. Water suggests an important lesson to us in gratitude and in renewing our

commitment towards God, Man and the Earth.


Akiva says:


are you O Israel!


whom do you purify yourselves?


who purifies you?


Father in Heaven


it is said, "I will sprinkle upon you pure water


you shall be purified." (Ezekiel 36:25)


it is said, "The hope (mikveh) of Israel is in the Eternal." (Jeremiah 17:13)


as mikve purifies the defiled,


too. The Holy blessed is he purifies Israel." (Mishnah Yoma 8 :9)

1. This year Shabbat Noah

is also Rosh Hodesh, so we will read the special Haftarah from Isaiah



Dalia Marx is an Associate Professor of Liturgy and Midrash at Hebrew Union

College in

Jerusalem. Her book,

Feminist Commentary of Babylonian Talmud: Tractates,

Tamid, Midot, Kinim. was recently published.



The World's Existence Depends Upon Law, Morality, and Interpersonal Respect


world exists thanks to law, you can see that the flood came to the world because

they lacked law, they stole and robbed from each other, as it is written, the land became full of robbery. And if this

is so, then one who judges, upholding the law faithfully, causes

the world to persist in its existence. It is as if he becomes a partner [to the


(Siftei HakhamimShemot 18:9)


The earth was corrupt before God: Before the great ones who were on the earth, who would take the women by force.

And the earth became full of hamas [robbery]: What is the difference between hamas and gezel [another term

for robbery]? Rabbi said: Hamas is [robbery of

property] worth [at least] a penny while gezel is [robbery of

property] worth less than a penny. This is what the people of the generation of

the Flood would do: one of them would take a basket full of lupini beans to the market. This one would come and

take less than a penny's worth and another one would come and take less than a penny's

worth, so that he [the owner] would not be able to demand legal recompense. The

Holy One blessed be He said to them: You acted improperly, so I

shall also treat you improperly and unfairly, as it is written – Their haughtiness, which is absorbed within

them-does it not leave [them]? They die, and not with wisdom (Job 4) – without the Torah's wisdom.

(Hizkuni Bereishit 6:11)


Now that the exile is prolonged because of our many sins, Israel must

separate itself from the vanities of the world, and must hold on to the seal of

The Holy One, Blessed Be He, which is truth; Israel must sanctify itself even by

[refraining from questionable] acts which are legally permitted (Yevamot 20a); one should not lie, neither to Jew nor to gentile, and not deceive

them in anyway, as is written: The remnant of Israel will not perform iniquities

and will not speak falsely, and their mouths shall not house deceptive tongues (Zephaniah 3:13). Furthermore it is written And

I will sow her in the land as My own (Hosea 2:25) – a person sows one kur of seed in order to harvest a number of kurim,

so The Holy One, Blessed Be He sowed Israel among the nations in order that it be

joined by converts (Pesahim 87b) As long as they [Israel] deal with

them honestly, they will cleave to them. The Holy One, Blessed Be He, is stringent

even regarding theft from the wicked, as is written, And the land was rife with

lawlessness (Bereishit 1:11)

"It once happened that Rabbi Shimon ben Shetah purchased a donkey

from an Ishmaelite. His students noticed a precious stone hanging from its neck.

They said to Rabbi Shimon: Rabbi, It is the blessing of the Lord that enriches (Proverbs 10:22). He replied:

I bought a donkey; I did not buy a precious stone. He went and returned the stone

to the Ishmaelite. The Ishmaelite said of him: Blessed is the God of Shimon ben


(Devarim Rabba



And thus in the Jerusalem Talmud (Bava Metzia 2:5) "The elderly sages purchased wheat from the gentiles, and discovered

a hidden bag of coins, and they returned it. Proclaimed the gentiles: Blessed is

the Lord of the Jews! And so there were many cases where they returned things in

order to sanctify His Name.

(Orhot Tzadikkim,

Gate 23, The Truth)



Let Us Build Ourselves A City and a Tower"

The story of

the building of the city and the tower also expresses the danger inherent in the

power of man's rule, when technical achievements cease to be means and they become

the goal for which man exists. This idea is expressed sharply in a late Midrash

called "Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer" which states:

The tower had seven levels on its east

side and seven on its west; they would carry the bricks on this side and descend

from the other; and if a man fell and died, no one would pay attention, but if a

single brick would fall they would sit and cry: Woe unto us, when will another come

up in its place!"

This is the

meaning of the rule of technology, which puts man into a framework, a social and

civilizing assignment from he may not deviate; This Midrash describes the situation

in which man becomes an instrument, a tool for raising bricks; the technical production

becomes the goal. Therefore no tears are spilled for a man who falls from the top

of the tower, because there will always be a replacement.

(Y. Leibowitz, Seven Years of

Discussion on the Weekly Parasha, p. 33)


Sign and Memory, Covenant and Responsibility

The Holy One, Blessed Be He, did more

than promise; He established a sign and a memorial. This is characteristic of divine

supervision: The Holy One decrees signs, e.g., tefillin, Shabbat, milah, to constantly

remind one of the great truths upon which

the peace of humanity depends.

"For ageless generations":

"Doubly lacking. [Translator's note – The Hebrew dorot

"generations" – is spelled here without the two vowel vavs] God's covenant

will exist in all situations; it will also protect the generation which is marked

by defects observable both internally and externally. In those generations, man's

heart will melt, and he may despair of ever witnessing divine justice. But the sight

of the rainbow in the cloud will remind him that God decreed a covenant with Man

and with the earth; this covenant will be in force at all times, in all generations,

and divine providence will achieve its goal – even in a flawed generation."

(Rav Shimshon Rafael

Hirsch on Ber. 9:12)

…in a world ruled in miraculous ways

(before the Deluge), a world whose existence is never assured, there is no place

for mitzvoth; a program of recognition of God and His service

are possible only in a world subject to natural law. Therefore, it is not a coincidence

that we read about the giving of mitzvoth only after the Deluge; Adam's first children

were not obligated with mitzvoth. Herein

lies the deep meaning of what are traditionally termed "The Noahide Mitzvoth,"

which were given only after the flood.

…It was in this renewed world –

the world destined to be our world and not in the earlier, miraculous world – that

saw the opening of the gate to the conflict between the values tikkun olam (perfection of the world) and Man, a struggle

realized in the revolutionary personality of our father, Avraham, who appears and

begins to function at the end of Parashat Noach. He is the person who takes upon

himself the mission of perfecting the world as Kingdom of God,

rather than taking the world for granted.

(From Leibowitz, "Seven

Years of Discussions on the Weekly Portion")


Tribal Morality Contradicts Absolute Morality

If they complete the tower, they

will come to think that they must forcibly prevent people who disagree with this

opinion, and that involves murder, robbery which will completely corrupt society.

The fact that they are currently in agreement will not help. Thus the Prophet Jeremiah

cried out, how skillfully you plan your

way to seek out love… on your garments is found the lifeblood of the innocent

poor – you did not catch them breaking in (2:33-4), which means that they were unified in his day and would boast that

they enjoyed love and peace more than any other people, but the prophet disagreed,

for on their garments was found the blood of innocents – not because they had committed

any theft or such, but because they did not belong to their group. So the groups

came to murder, and there is no boast of peace in that, rather only if they had

been careful to do evil against those not in their group.


Davar and Harhev Davar, Bereishit





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