Illuminations #177, Cheshvan, 5779, Parshat Noach

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Illuminations #177, Cheshvan, 5779, Parshat Noach

Torah Gems

“These are the generations of Noach. Noach was a completely righteous man in his generation” (Beresheet 6:9).
Rashi cites two opinions regarding the words “in his generation.” Some see this as praise of Noach. Even in an evil generation he was righteous. If he were in a righteous generation, he would be even more righteous. Others see this as a negative statement. Only in his own generation was he considered righteous, but if he were living in Avraham’s generation, he would not have been considered anything special. The Chatam Sofer commented on this that both opinions are correct and there is not really an argument. If Noach would have stayed the way he was in his own generation, then in Abraham’s generation he would not have been special. But the reality would be that if Noach were in Avraham’s generation, he would have been influenced positively by Avraham, and Noach would have been much greater than he actually was. This is a fundamental lesson on the importance of being in the presence of elevated people. We are all influenced by our surroundings. When you are close to people who act in an elevated manner, you are automatically influenced in positive ways. Rabbi Yisrael Salanter was once asked if he had studied under Rabbi Zundel of Salant, who was known to be his teacher. Rav Yisrael replied, “I did not study under him. I saw him.” Just taking a careful look at his actions and habits were already an entire series of lessons in elevated behavior. (Growth through Torah)

Parsha Pearls

“And the dove came to him in the evening and behold an olive leaf, freshly plucked, was in her mouth” (Bereishit 8:11).
Rashi cites the Talmud Eruvin 18b which notes that the bitter tasting leaf was unnatural for a dove to eat. By bringing it, the dove was essentially saying, “I would rather eat bitter food from the hand of Hashem than something sweet from the hand of a human.” It seems puzzling that the dove would “talk” this way to Noach. Chazal lauded Noach’s exemplary display of chesed in feeding all of the animals. He wasn’t satisfied to give them all the same food simultaneously. Instead, he fed each animal its preferred food at its accustomed time. This around the clock responsibility deprived Noah of his sleep for a full year. Yet, the dove preferred bitter leaves, rather than rely upon this kindly gentle man. Rav Henoch Leibowitz suggests a profound rationale for the dove’s behavior. By nature it is difficult to turn to another human being for help. It becomes even more difficult when our request for a favor is either denied or granted grudgingly. Why is this so? Rav Leibowitz explains that man, as a creation of Hashem, possesses a neshamah, soul, which is bound up with Hashem. The soul feels pain when it must turn to a human being for sustenance, rather than receive it from Hashem, its original source. Regardless of the graciousness and benevolence of the giver, it remains difficult to accept a favor, even from a close friend. The image of Hashem which is inherent in everyone aspires to reach out to its source. Among Hashem’s creations, man is undoubtedly the most sensitive. This is not a human failing, but rather a part of his spiritual composition. How careful should we be, when granting our fellow man a favor, to do so in an amiable manner, expediently and compassionately. (Peninim on the Torah)

Glimpses of Greatness

Someone once asked the Chatam Sofer the secret to his success in Torah. “I became a talmid chacham in five minutes,” the Chasam Sofer said. “Really?” asked the man. “Yes,” replied the Chatam Sofer, “all those five minutes that go to waste in the course of one’s lifetime – I made sure to maximize the use of them for learning. That is why I say I became a talmid chacham in five minutes. Five minutes here and five minutes there.”

Halacha Weekly

Q . How can one invite non-observant family as guests on Yom Tov? [Miluim II-1]

A. The Talmud in tractate Beiah (21b)-cites Mar Shmuel who says that one may not invite a non-Jew  on a Festival as a preventative measure  so that one will not come to cook more [food than is necessary] for his sake. ( If one cooks food for a non-Jew he will be performing a forbidden melachah on Yom Tov, because it is not for the sake of Yom Tov that he is cooking the food.) There is a concern regarding non-observant guests as well, because the food they eat will not be cooked for the sake of one observing Yom Tov.

Teshuvaot V’hanhagot (5-111-4, R. Moshe Sternbach) notes a concern about hazmanah (inviting non-observant guests). Chut HaShani (Hilchot Yom Tov, 4-65) adds that if there is a basis on which to say the guest is a tinok shenishba (one who was raised in captivity and is ignorant of Jewish observance), then it is permitted to invite them. This is because it only results in a doubt regarding a Rabbinical prohibition. Only if one cooked the food for these guests in a separate pot for them specifically would this involve a Torah prohibition, and would be prohibited. One should be careful to cook all the food together so everyone eats from the same pot.

Chut HaShani (Ad. Loc. 5-6) says also  it is permitted in the case of a baal teshuva who wants to invite his parents who are secular on Yom Tov, for it is possible that they will turn to the good through this [observance] , and similarly it is permitted to invite them for Yom Tov and the night of the Seder for they are involving themselves in turning to do good. Also see Maharsham (1-121, R. Shalom Mordechai Shwadron Z”L) who writes similarly.