King Shlomo writes in Mishlei (10:25), "When the storm passes, a
wicked one is no more, but a righteous one is the foundation of the
world." R' Yehoshua ibn Shuiv z"l (Spain; early 14th century) writes: A
wicked person is compared to a storm because he damages others before
disappearing without a trace. In contrast, a righteous person is solid
like a foundation; not only does he have permanence, but others can rely
R' ibn Shuiv continues: Our Sages stated that this verse refers to
the generation of the flood. "When the storm passes, a wicked one is no
more." Like a storm, the generation of the flood did great damage and
then met its end quickly. On the other hand, "a righteous one is the
foundation of the world." From the righteous Noach, an entire new world
In addition, writes R' ibn Shuiv, this parashah contains several
foundations of our beliefs. In last week's parashah we learned that G-d
created the world. In this week's parashah we learn that G-d continues to
supervise His creation (hashgachah) and that He rewards and punishes those
who do good and bad respectively (s'char va'onesh). As our Sages note,
Noach himself had to learn these lessons, for even he doubted that the
flood would come until the rain started falling. It is for this reason
that Noach brought olot sacrifices after the flood, for an olah atones for
heretical thoughts. R' ibn Shuiv notes that the gematria of the word olot
[Bereishit 8:20] equals 500, the number of years that Noach sinned.
[Noach was 600 years old at the time of the flood. However, our Sages say
that, at the time of Noach, the age before which sins did not count, was
100.] (Derashot R"y ibn Shuiv)
"Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; like the
green herbage I have given you everything." (9:3)
Before the flood, mankind was not permitted to eat animals. After
the flood, it was permitted. Why?
R' Shlomo Kluger z"l (1785-1869; rabbi of Brody, Galicia) explains:
Before the flood, the produce of the earth was more spiritually lofty than
animals were because produce was sustained directly from the earth [which
was created directly by G-d], while animals were one step removed, being
sustained from the plants that were sustained from the earth. This
special quality of the plants, i.e., that their sustenance comes more
directly from G-d, is alluded to in Yeshayah (55:10), "For just as the
rain and snow descend from heaven and will not return there, unless it
waters the earth and causes it to produce and sprout, and gives seed to
the sower and food to the eater."
The flood changed this, however. First, the earth itself became
corrupt in the years leading up to the flood, as we read (Bereishit 6:13),
"For the earth is filled with robbery." Second, by feeding the animals in
the Ark, Noach elevated their status, for the Gemara (Ketubot 5a) teaches
that the actions of the righteous are considered greater than the acts of
G-d Himself. (Chochmat Ha'Torah: Bereishit p.433)
"However, your blood which belongs to your souls I will demand .
. ." (9:5)
R' Yehuda He'chassid z"l (Germany; died 1217) writes: If one dies
because of his own misbehavior -- for example, if he gets involved in
fights -- he is destined to account for his soul. Likewise, those who
endanger themselves -- for example one who walks on thin ice in the winter
and falls through and drowns, or if he sleeps in an abandoned building and
it collapses on him, or if he starts up with or speaks aggressively to a
brute -- all of these people are destined to answer to the Heavenly court
for bringing about their own deaths. This is learned from our verse.
In addition, we learn from our verse that, just as one may not cause
injury to another person or damage the property of another, so one has no
right to injure himself or to damage his own property. This prohibition
includes pulling out one's hair from worry and tearing clothes or smashing
dishes in anger. (Sefer Chassidim Nos. 675, 676)
R' Eliezer Papo z"l (1785-1826; rabbi of Selestria, Bulgaria) writes:
One must take care to eat only to satiation, and not to overeat, for one
who follows his belly ("gachon") builds a home ("machon") for the yetzer
hara. This is based on the teaching of the kabbalists that every pleasure
in this world that is enjoyed for a mundane purpose strengthens the power
of the yetzer hara. [Ed. note: This is not meant to prohibit the
enjoyment of physical and material pleasures, since most pleasures can be
elevated to a lofty purpose.]
From the perspective of mussar / proper behavior, one acts improperly
by overeating for several reasons: (1) he is wasting food; (2) he is
wasting the time that he spends overeating and the extra time that he
later will spend in other physical needs; (3) he will make himself ill;
and (4) if he causes his own death, he will be called to account for it.
On the other hand, earlier sages have stated that if one restrains
himself from consuming an enticing food, it is as if he fasted and brought
a sacrifice on the altar. (Pele Yoetz: Erech "Achilah")
"And Cush fathered Nimrod; he was the first to be a mighty man
on earth. He was a mighty hunter before Hashem; therefore it is
said, `Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before Hashem'." (10:8-9)
R' Zvi Hirsch Eichenstein z"l (1763-1831; Zidachover Rebbe) writes:
The Torah is eternal; therefore, there must some message for us in the
fact that the Torah tells us so much about Nimrod, including what is said
about him. Indeed, asks R' Eichenstein, who is it who says, "Like Nimrod,
a mighty hunter before Hashem"?
He answers: We read in Shmuel I (10:11) about the newly-anointed King
Shaul: "All those who had known him from yesterday and before then saw
that, behold! - he was prophesying along with the prophets, and they said
to one another, `What is this that has happened to the son of Kish? Is
Shaul also among the prophets?' . . . It thus became an aphorism, `Is
Shaul also among the prophets?'" R' Eichenstein explains that upon seeing
Shaul, who no one imagined had it within him to be a prophet, other people
became motivated to aspire to prophecy.
Likewise - and despite the fact that Nimrod was wicked - Nimrod's
strength can be an inspiration. Thus, who is it who says, "Like Nimrod, a
mighty hunter before Hashem"? It is the person who wants to be inspired
to harness his own strength to serve Hashem. We read, for example
(10:10), "The beginning of his kingdom was Bavel, Erech . . ." "Bavel"
can allude to the Babylonian Talmud. "Erech" can allude to the trait of
patience (erech apayim). Each trait of or detail about Nimrod can be
applied "before Hashem." (Bet Yisrael)
This Week in History, Halachah, and Minhag
Friday, 2 Marcheshvan: Most communities that have the custom not to
recite Tachanun during the final week of Tishrei resume reciting Tachanun
today. [Wednesday and Thursday of this week were Rosh Chodesh, when no
community recites Tachanun.] However, some have the custom not to recite
Tachanun today, for two reasons: First, in most years [i.e., when the day
does not fall in Friday], the second day of Marcheshvan is the first full
day of yeshiva studies after the Sukkot vacation; thus, it is a joyous
day. Second, when the second of Marcheshvan does fall on Friday (as it
does this year), it would be the only day of the week on which Tachanun is
recited, which is deemed inappropriate. Note that some have the custom
not to recite Tachanun on any Friday. (Luach Davar B'ito p.279).
Friday night, 3 Marcheshvan: [Because it alludes to the parashah,]
one should concentrate extra carefully on the verse in Kabbalat Shabbat
which begins, "Hashem la'mabul yashav / G-d sat enthroned at the Flood . .
. ." (Luach Davar B'ito p.281).
Monday, 5 Marcheshvan: Some have the custom to fast today, next
Thursday and the following Monday to atone for any sins that may have
resulted from excessive eating and drinking on the holiday of Sukkot that
ended recently. Some congregations recite selichot prayers on these days.
6 Marcheshvan 3427 (334 B.C.E.): Invading Greek armies massacred the
Jews of Bet She'an. On this day, in the year 4926 (1165), Rambam z"l
arrived in Yerushalayim. He would later settle in Egypt. (Luach Davar
7 Marcheshvan: Jews in Eretz Yisrael begin reciting the prayer for
rain, "V'ten tal u'matar," in Shemoneh Esrei. This event is timed so that
we do not pray for rain until Jews from Babylon (Iraq) who had visited the
Bet Hamikdash for Sukkot would have had sufficient time to walk to the
Euphrates River in northern Syria, which is the border of Eretz Yisrael.
(Mishnah, Ta'anit 10a). Outside of Eretz Yisrael, recitation of "V'ten
tal u'matar" will begin on Dec. 4.
8 Marcheshvan 5481 (1720): The shul of R' Yehuda He'chasid z'l (not
to be confused with the medieval sage of the same name quoted inside this
issue) in Yerushalayim is burnt together with 40 Torah scrolls. The
aliyah movement of R' Yehuda He'chasid ends in disappointment. (Luach
Davar B'ito p.298). The Churvah Shul, as the shul became known, was
rebuilt in 1837 and destroyed by Arabs again in 1948. Today, the Churvah
Shul is being built for the third time.
The editors hope these brief 'snippets' will engender further study
and discussion of Torah topics ('lehagdil Torah u'leha'adirah'), and
your letters are appreciated. Web archives at Torah.org start with 5758 (1997) and
may be retrieved from the Hamaayan page.
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