Thursday, October 26, 2006

Parshas Noach

The Torah tells us in 6:13:
.ויאמר אלהים לנח קץ כל בשר בא לפני כי מלאה הארץ חמס מפניהם והנני משחיתם את הארץ
"G-d said to Noach, The end of all flesh has come before Me. The earth is filled with violent crime because of them, and so, I will destroy them and the earth."
Rashi, commenting on the final two words, "Es haaretz", says that it shouldn't read read as "them and the earth", and gives two alternate explanations. First, he says "es haaretz" means "min haaretz", meaning that he will take these people FROM the earth (ie, they will be killed). More of note, for our purposes, is his second explanation where he says that "es haaretz" means together with the earth, and notes that the 3 tefachim (handbreadths) on the top of the land was also blotted out and eroded away. There must be some significance to this specific amount of 3 tefachim; why not 10, why not 100? Interestingly, this shiur of 3 tefachim is that which a plow reaches when it it used on the land.

If we go back to Parshas Bereishis, we see that Noach is given his name because, "This one will bring us rest from our work and the anguish of our hands, from the soil which Ad-noy has cursed" (lashon Nechama; ie. Noach). It seems that Noach brought something to the world that gave it some sort of Nechama in regards to work; there was something in the world post-Noach that lacking the pre-Noach era. Rashi comments there that what was it that Noach brought to the world? A plow. OK. That's two plow references - what gives?

Before Noach and the plow, humans were passive beings. Whatever vegetation there was existed, not because humans worked to make it so, but rather, because G-d made it so. It wasn't until Noach and the plow that humans went from being passive beings to active. Interestingly, the Paneach Raza (one of the Baalei Tosfos), quoting the Medrash, says that before Noach's generation, people didn't have fingers as we know them. Essentially, people had stumps for hands; after all, what did they need their fingers for? This, now, was the first time they had the opportunity to take that which G-d had given them, and work it themselves; this required fingers. However, with the plow came great risk. Beforehand, it would've been pretty hard to claim that G-d didn't exist. As passive beings, they were forced to agree that everything that existed was around because Hashem wanted it to. Only after people started to work the land did people start to think that they, themselves, were the reason for their success, and not Hashem.

So we see, that even though the verse says that the world was destroyed because of "Chamas" and "Gezel", these actions were only a result of what came about with the plow. Only after people started forgetting who was the source of their sustenance did people sink to a level of robbery and thievery. It is now clear why Hashem took those 3 tefachim off of the earth during the destruction. He needed to show us that really, he's the one in charge. Yes, we are now active beings in the world and yes Hashem thinks this is a good thing (after all, according to the Medrash, he made human beings with fingers as a result), but we're only active beings because Hashem is our source. He took those 3 tefachim to tell us that really, at the end of the day, the plow doesn't matter.

There's no cute takeaway message as there often is, aside from the fact that every once in a while, we need to remember who's the boss. Whether for good or for bad, he's calling the shots. We should keep this in mind, because it is only when we start to have these doubts do we move on to other aveiros (ie, Chamas, Gezel, etc.).


Anonymous closetpartyanimal said...

Very nice pshat, thanks.

12:19 PM, October 26, 2006

Anonymous HarmonicJew said...

Shkoyach... I enjoyed.

..may i ask what the Nesivos Shalom says on Parshas Noach? (I waas getting used to reading about the nesivos shalom each week...)

10:20 PM, October 26, 2006

Blogger AlanLaz said...

I'll see if I have time to take a peek tomorrow.

10:42 PM, October 26, 2006

Anonymous HarmonicJew said...

awesome, thanx =)

11:03 PM, October 26, 2006

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