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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Noach's Downfall, Parshat Shavua, Torah Portion of the Week

Yes, this week is about Noah/Noach/נוח.  Forever, since there was a Bible there have been debates about Noach.  What sort of "righteous man" was he?  Righteous in general or just compared to his pre-flood peers?


Re-reading the text for the umpteenth time,



ה וַיַּרְא יְהוָה, כִּי רַבָּה רָעַת הָאָדָם בָּאָרֶץ, וְכָל-יֵצֶר מַחְשְׁבֹת לִבּוֹ, רַק רַע כָּל-הַיּוֹם. 5 And the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
ו וַיִּנָּחֶם יְהוָה, כִּי-עָשָׂה אֶת-הָאָדָם בָּאָרֶץ; וַיִּתְעַצֵּב, אֶל-לִבּוֹ. 6 And it repented the LORD that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart.
ז וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה, אֶמְחֶה אֶת-הָאָדָם אֲשֶׁר-בָּרָאתִי מֵעַל פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה, מֵאָדָם עַד-בְּהֵמָה, עַד-רֶמֶשׂ וְעַד-עוֹף הַשָּׁמָיִם: כִּי נִחַמְתִּי, כִּי עֲשִׂיתִם. 7 And the LORD said: 'I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and creeping thing, and fowl of the air; for it repenteth Me that I have made them.'
ח וְנֹחַ, מָצָא חֵן בְּעֵינֵי יְהוָה. {פ} 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
...
א וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה לְנֹחַ, בֹּא-אַתָּה וְכָל-בֵּיתְךָ אֶל-הַתֵּבָה: כִּי-אֹתְךָ רָאִיתִי צַדִּיק לְפָנַי, בַּדּוֹר הַזֶּה. 1 And the LORD said unto Noah: 'Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before Me in this generation.

Yes, reading carefully, at that time, the time of the flood Noach was a tzaddik, a righteous man compared to his peers.  He seemed to have an innate need to be different.  Was he just a non-conformist by nature or a bit "autistic," problems socializing? 

Because once there were no evil people to "counter," be the opposite of, his behavior deteriorated:


Biblical Text Hebrew-English
כ וַיָּחֶל נֹחַ, אִישׁ הָאֲדָמָה; וַיִּטַּע, כָּרֶם. 20 And Noah the husbandman began, and planted a vineyard.
כא וַיֵּשְׁתְּ מִן-הַיַּיִן, וַיִּשְׁכָּר; וַיִּתְגַּל, בְּתוֹךְ אָהֳלֹה. 21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
כב וַיַּרְא, חָם אֲבִי כְנַעַן, אֵת, עֶרְוַת אָבִיו; וַיַּגֵּד לִשְׁנֵי-אֶחָיו, בַּחוּץ. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.
כג וַיִּקַּח שֵׁם וָיֶפֶת אֶת-הַשִּׂמְלָה, וַיָּשִׂימוּ עַל-שְׁכֶם שְׁנֵיהֶם, וַיֵּלְכוּ אֲחֹרַנִּית, וַיְכַסּוּ אֵת עֶרְוַת אֲבִיהֶם; וּפְנֵיהֶם, אֲחֹרַנִּית, וְעֶרְוַת אֲבִיהֶם, לֹא רָאוּ. 23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness.
כד וַיִּיקֶץ נֹחַ, מִיֵּינוֹ; וַיֵּדַע, אֵת אֲשֶׁר-עָשָׂה לוֹ בְּנוֹ הַקָּטָן. 24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his youngest son had done unto him.
כה וַיֹּאמֶר, אָרוּר כְּנָעַן: עֶבֶד עֲבָדִים, יִהְיֶה לְאֶחָיו. 25 And he said: Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
כו וַיֹּאמֶר, בָּרוּךְ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי שֵׁם; וִיהִי כְנַעַן, עֶבֶד לָמוֹ. 26 And he said: Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be their servant.

Noach post-flood acted more like the evil people. And even worse, he blames his son for discovering him drunk rather than taking responsibility for his actions.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

in the torah noach is spelled sans vav.

Sabba Hillel said...

An interesting comment compared Noach after the flood to many survivors after the Shoah. He realized that he could and should have done more to try to prevent the catastrophe. This is compaed to the reaction of Avraham when told about S'dom and Moshe after the Golden Calf.

Rabbi Saks last year wrote that the entire set of stories from Adam and Chavah through the dispersion after Migdal Bavel teaches the levels of responsibility that a person must learn in order to live properly in the world. This goes from personal responsibility (It was her fault), to responsibility for others (am I my brother's keeper), to colloective responsibility (tzadik b'doroasv) to moral responsibility (migdal Bavel was a revolt against Hashem).

Only after those lessons had been learned could the real history of the world start with Avraham.

Batya said...

a, yes, thanks
Sabba Hillel, I may be missing something, but where did Noach "realized that he could and should have done more to try to prevent the catastrophe?"

Anonymous said...

Noah's Curse

Love is the key to understanding scripture, G-d, others, and yourself. So when we come to a curse put upon a grandson by the most righteous man on earth, there is a mystery to solve. Lets do just that together with our latest episode we call Noah's curse.

Be Blessed Rebbe T. Zionslion Podcast