Illuminations #94, Tishrei 5777, Parshat Noach

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Illuminations #94, Tishrei 5777, Parshat Noach

Torah Gems

There is a quite intriguing Midrash discussing the entrance of some “beings” into the taivah. When Noach was bringing all the animals and their mates into the taivah, Sheker (fallacy) wanted to come in as well. Noach explained to him that only couples could gain entry to the taivah. Sheker later bumped into Pichsah (literally: nothingness, the one in charge of making people lose their money). After explaining to Pichsah that he was prevented from entering the taivah because he was without a mate, Sheker then “proposed” a marriage with Pichsah as a means of gaining entry. Pichsah asked, “What will you give me?” To which Sheker replied, “Everything I make will be yours.” [He was lying] Pichsah agreed and they entered the taivah. After they left the taivah, Sheker started making money [by means of lying and cheating people and the like], but to his dismay, he realized that all the money he was making was gone. When he approached his “mate,” the reply was quite simple, “Did we not make up that everything Sheker makes Pichsah takes?!” Sheker had nothing to say. And so it has been ever since, the only thing that Sheker makes is sheker – falsehood. Because anything a person will acquire through sheker will not remain with him (Shochar Tov 7:15, Biur Haram. Baalei Tosafot, Noach, 6:19). This is what Shlomo Hamelech meant when he relayed Hashem’s words (Mishlei 8:18):”Wealth and honor are [only] with Me.” Rav Shmuel Schienberg, zt”l, explained that Shlomo Hamelech is conveying that only through Torah will you be able to attain wealth and honor. If attained lawlessly it will not remain with you. The passuk (ibid.) continues, “[Your] wealth will [only] endure [and be secured if it is attained] through righteousness!” Let us internalize that we will only earn and receive each year the amount of money and possessions that Hashem has set aside for us. Additionally, the first question that we will be asked by the Heavenly tribunal will be if we carried out our business dealings honestly (Shabbat 31a).

Parsha Pearls

The Torah testifies that Noach was a tzaddik in his generation (6:9). Why is there an emphasis on “his generation”? Rashi cites two opinions of Chazal:  surely in a different generation he would not be considered a tzaddik, and that only in comparison to his generation was he considered a tzaddik.
Had he lived in the generation of Avraham Avinu he would not have been considered anything at all.
Why did Chazal feel that the Torah deemed it necessary to tell us something derogatory about Noach? And additionally, why did Rashi also cite that opinion when we would have just as easily understood the passuk without it? Rav Gamliel Rabinovitch, shlita, (Tiv HaTorah p. 99) explains that Rashi is coming to explain to us that there are two necessary components in avodat Hashem: First, when the yetzer hara tries convincing a person to sin by claiming, “Who are you anyway? Who will care if you sin? What repercussions will it cause?” and so on, we have to remember how especially significant we are. Second, when the yetzer hara tries to make us feel arrogant, we have to focus on the fact that we are absolutely nothing without Hashem’s help! Sometimes it’s necessary for us to be humble, and other times we need to be elevated, one angle or the other – they are both necessary components to use in our avodat Hashem.

Glimpses of Greatness

Rav Aharon Kotler’s son, Reb Shneur, who succeeded his father as rosh yeshivah, carried on the family tradition of impeccable honesty. Once a California millionaire with no relatives signed a check to the Lakewood Yeshivah after Reb Shneur had visited him and encouraged him to increase his yearly donation of one hundred dollars. The very same day, the rosh yeshivah received a call from the tycoon’s aide, informing him that the benefactor had passed away before he could fill in the amount on the check. “Rabbi,” the aide asked, “tell me how large a check you’d like. There are millions of dollars sitting in the bank and no heirs to collect them. It’s either Sacramento or Lakewood.” Reluctant to take more money than the donor might have intended to give, Reb Shneur promptly responded, ”One hundred dollars, like every year.”    (Builders)

Halacha Weekly

A. The Torah commands the groom to give his bride a ring, and it is prohibited for the woman in turn to

give the man a ring, which is the Non-Jewish custom. Why? “It is prohibited for a bride also to give to the groom a ring immediately after the groom  [gives her a ring] … because it is a Chok Akum (It is an imitation of idolatrous customs of the Nations]” Igros Moshe (Even Haezer 3-18). (Vayikra 20:23) “Do not follow In the traditions of the nation (bechukat haGoy)  that I expel from before you…” The Non-Jewish wedding ceremony is only concluded if there is an exchange of rings.

If the bride gives the husband a ring after the wedding it is not proper for the man to wear it. However, if he does wear it, there is no prohibition of Chukat Akum, following idolatrous customs of the Nations.  Igros Moshe (Even Haezer 4 -32-2) writes: It is permitted for the groom to go with a ring that he has received from the bride afterwards becaus[his] wearing a ring after the wedding is certainly for the purpose of appearance [only, and not ceremonial], and perhaps  also because it is a sign that he is married.”  


This week’s Illuminations is sponsored in honor of Rabbi Don Seeman for being the Tishrai Rabbi at New Toco Synagogue