Rabbi Chaim Dovid Green
Law and Order
"And the earth became corrupt before G-d, and the land was filled with
robbery" (Genesis 6:11). Our sages (Sanhedrin 108a) observe that the sin
which earned the punishment of the flood was robbery. Just as it states:
"And G-d said to Noach 'the end of all flesh has come before me, for the
earth is filled with robbery'..." (Genesis 6:13). The scriptures also reveal
that the generation before the flood was involved deeply in immoral behavior
as well. How can it be that their punishment was fixed as a result of
robbery? Can that compare to adultery, bestiality, and all other forms of
In the ethical work "Chachmas HaMatzpon" this question is addressed. He
connects the behavior of the pre-deluge generation to lack of order and
accountability. Regarding order, be it social order or otherwise, it can be
said that without it the world can not function. All of the fundamental
elements of the universe follow a strict order. If the solar system would
not follow a specific order and each celestial body stay on its own path,
even momentarily, everything would be destroyed. This is one of literally
countless examples. Everything depends on order, and it is of great
importance to G-d.
This observation leads us to the next step. From it we can see the value of
humankind when they choose to conduct themselves by the dictates of law and
order. We come to this conclusion by way of an analogy.
A fellow passes by a hall where many preparations are being made for a great
feast. He sees the quality of the work and the attention being paid to every
detail. He observes the finery. He notices the effort given to how each food
is prepared; which dish, and which utensils. He takes note of the color
scheme. From all that he observes he surmises that something of great
importance is in the making. This feast must be for kings and noblemen.
These kind of preparations are not made except for the most discerning
people; people who can appreciate every nuance and every detail of the
effort put into the preparation and execution of this great feast.
Just as the level of preparation for a feast leads us to draw conclusions
about it, so too regarding order. The order that exists in the universe in
every aspect from the minutest to greatest testifies to its value and
importance. Consequently, one who conducts himself within the confines of
order is connecting with the underlying theme of the creation.
This is our springboard for understanding why robbery brought the creation
to destruction. When one can appreciate the chaos which financial dishonesty
creates in the world, one can draw conclusions about the destruction
immorality perpetrates. Since the pre-deluge generation did not succeed in
drawing the correct conclusions, they forfeited their existence. This is the
lesson which to this day is just as relevant as it was then.
Text Copyright © 1998 Rabbi Dovid Green and
Project Genesis, Inc.