Illuminations #133, Cheshvan 5778, Parshat Noach

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Illuminations #133, Cheshvan 5778, Parshat Noach

Torah Gems

Although the first passuk of our parshah starts off by stating that Noach was a tzaddik and tamim, when Hashem spoke to Noach, Hashem told him (7:1): “For I see you as a tzaddik before Me in this generation.” Rashi comments (7:1) that from the fact that here the Torah only refers to him as a “tzaddik” without the title of “tamim” we learn that we should only mention part of a person’s praise in front of him. The question is, why? The answer may very well be that Hakadosh Baruch Hu did not want him to become conceited, chas veshalom. The Gemara in Sotah (4b-5b) goes to great length to detail how terrible haughtiness is. To mention a few pitfalls: One who is haughty will end up “stumbling” with a married woman. It is considered as if he has worshipped avodah zarah, forgotten Hashem, had relations with all of the forbidden women and is as if he built an altar for avodah zarah. He will not be cleansed and able to avoid Gehinom even if he is as full of Torah as Moshe Rabbeinu! Even if he has given tzedakah secretly! He will end up falling from his stature. He will not awaken by techias hameissim. The Shechinah weeps concerning him. Hashem says: “I and he cannot live together in this world!” I think we get the picture. You see, one who is conceited thinks that he is control! As the Torah phrases it (Devarim 8:17), “And you may say in your heart, ‘it was my power and the might of my hand that has brought me all that I have.’’ This is avodah zarah! He doesn’t believe that Hashem is running his world – he is! However, one who has humility is walking in the footsteps of Hakadosh Boruch Hu. His tefillos will be answered. He will be able to acquire and attain high levels in Torah. He will be blessed with chein. Hashem will dwell with him. He will be able to avoid Gehinom. He will be able to attain yiras Shamayim and all other worthy midot. As a result he will be forgiven for his sins and receive all the berachot.

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: 1) That surely in a different generation he would be considered a tzaddik, and 2) 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? 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 avodas Hashem: 1) 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. Also, 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

The Midrash (cited by Rashi 8:22) teaches us that the sun, moon and all the constellations weren’t moving and “doing their thing” during the entire period of the mabul. Why not? Quite simply because everything in this world is solely for us! There were no people who needed the constellations during the mabul, so there was “nothing” for them to do. This teaching should convey to us that Hashem created everything in the world to benefit us. If only we would remember this, appreciate Hashem’s tremendous goodness, and act accordingly!

Halacha Weekly

May One Read A Newspaper on Shabbat? – 2-7-170

Shevut Yaakov (3-23) writes on the issue of reading [secular] books [on Shabbat, specifically] about wars, about historical [events], that since there is no need to read about them in the present [it is not permissible on Shabbat]. [However, this] is not the case with regard to newspapers that announce news to the public happening in current times. These [current news] have in them much that people have need to know about, e.g. in which country there is war going on or other evil occurrences (God Forbid ).  It may be possible to rescue someone or something through their action [as a result of reading it]. Therefore, there is no prohibition of reading from these types of secular documents.

Yaavetz (R. Yaakov Emden Z”L, 1-162) writes that even without [there being a specific] need there is reason to be lenient regarding [reading newspapers] since there may be suffering by withholding it, and there may be enjoyment [for the person] derived from reading it. [This is enough of a reason to permit it.]  Mishneh Berurah (307-63) writes that even many of the later authorities (Acharonim) say even though Shevut Yaakov is lenient one should prohibit it because there are to be found in it [newspapers] many business matters [which are prohibited to involved one’s self with on Shabbat] , Aruch HaShulchan (307-9) also implies this [that it should be prohibited].