Since we missed Parashat Bereshit last week due to the
Chag, we try to cover two parashiot this week, so we won’t fall behind. I hope
that you’ll enjoy the following Parashiot summaries followed by a Dvar
” Parashat Bereshit in a Nutshell ”
G-d creates the world in six days. On the first day He
makes darkness and light. On the 2nd day He forms the heavens, dividing the
“upper waters” from the “lower waters.” On the 3rd day He sets the boundaries of
land and sea and calls forth trees and greenery from the earth. On the 4th day
He fixes the position of the sun, moon and stars as timekeepers and illuminators
of the earth. Fish, birds and reptiles are created on the fifth day;
land-animals, and then the human being, on the sixth. G-d ceases work on the
seventh day, and sanctifies it as a day of rest.
G-d forms the human body from the dust of the earth and blows into his nostrils a “living soul.” Originally Man is a single person, but deciding that “it is not good that man be
alone,” G-d takes a “side” from the man, forms it into a woman, and marries them
to each other.
Adam and Eve are placed in the Garden of Eden and
commanded not to eat from the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.” The serpent
persuades Eve to violate the command, and she shares the forbidden fruit with
her husband. Because of their sin, it is decreed that man will experience death,
returning to the soil from which he was formed, and that all his livelihood will
come only through struggle and hardship. Man is banished from the
Eve gives birth to two sons, Cain and Abel. Cain quarrels with
Abel and murders him, and becomes a rootless wanderer. A third son is born to
Adam, Seth, whose tenth-generation descendant, Noah, is the only righteous man
in a corrupt world!
” Parashat Noach in a Nutshell ”
Parshat Noach begins by describing Noach’s righteousness,
compared with the wickedness of his generation. As a result of Mankind’s evil,
Hashem brings a flood to destroy every living creature, sparing only Noach, his
family, and at least one pair of every animal species, who live in an ark during
the lengthy flood. When the waters declined, almost a year after the rains first
began, Noach sends out a raven and a dove so as to determine whether the land
has dried sufficiently so that they can leave the ark to resettle the earth once
again. Hashem promises that He will never again destroy all of Mankind by means
of a flood, and He designates the rainbow as a sign for that eternal covenant.
Noach plants a vineyard, drinks from its produce, and becomes drunk. In
his intoxicated state, he shamefully uncovers himself in his tent. While his son
Cham dealt with his father inappropriately, Noach’s other two sons, Shem and
Yefet, cover their father in a respectful manner. Once sober, Noach responds by
blessing Shem and Yefet, and by cursing Cham and his son Canaan.
Generations pass and the world is repopulated. The people attempt
to wage war against Hashem by building the Tower of Babel, and Hashem responds
by mixing up their languages and dispersing them across the planet.
The Torah portion concludes on an encouraging note with Abraham’s birth and his
marriage to Sarah.
” Dvar Torah ”
At the beginning of Parshat Noach, the Torah says: ” Noach was a righteous man, perfect in his generation…. G-d saw that all flesh on earth had become corrupt and lawless, and G-d told Noach that He had decided to bring a flood to destroy all flesh. G-d directed Noach to make an Ark for himself, his wife, his sons and their wives, and he should gather two of every kind of animals – male and female, and they will all survive in the Ark….. and
Noach did exactly as Hashem had commanded him!”
Some Chachamim praise Noach, when the Torah mentions that he was righteous in his generation, since it is not an easy job to stay righteous when you are surrounded all around by corrupt and evil people. While others criticize him, for his righteousness is
only achieved when compared with his generation only. If he would have been
compared to Avraham or Moshe, for example, he would never reach their level of
But you may ask yourself, why should Noach’s righteousness even be in doubt?! The Torah says that “Noach did exactly as G-d has commanded him”. In Judaism, a righteous person is described as someone who fears G-d and follows his commandments. So, why on earth is Noach even criticized?! It’s as if someone keeps ALL the commandments of the Torah, and then you tell him that he is not righteous. It’s unheard of! So, what did Noach do wrong? Why should there even be a doubt in Noach’s righteousness? Why couldn’t the Torah just say that Noach was righteous, period?! Why did the Torah have to mention “in his generation”?
The Chachamim say, Noach’s major mistake was that he did not
stand up to defend the other people. He only cared about himself and his family
and not the survival of others! He had 120 years to build the Ark, but he did
not even pray once to Hashem, not destroy all the living creatures. He could not
even convince one other person to come with him into the Ark. When Hashem
informs his loyal servants about the destruction of his people, he expects his
prophets to defend them! And this is why some Chachamim say that Noach does not
reach the level of righteousness of Avraham and Moshe. When Hashem wanted to
destroy the people of “Sedom and Gemara”, the first thing that Avraham did was
to defend its residents and stop Hashem from destroying the innocent with the
guilty party. Also, after the sin of the Golden Calf, Hashem wanted to destroy
all the Benei Israel and make a new nation from Moshe. But Moshe argued with
Hashem that if he wants to destroy all of his Chosen People, he better erase his
name from his book also! Noach, unfortunately, wasn’t thinking about others. He
did not even argue once with Hashem: “What if there are only ten righteous
people in the world, why should they die because of the wickedness of the
others? Why do the innocent babies have to die? Why do all the beautiful trees,
flowers and plants have to die? Why do some innocent animals have to die?”
Noach, sadly enough, remained silent. In his mind, he thought that these people
deserve to die, but he should have known better! We are not suppose to judge
others! We should always try to see the good in others, and not their evil! By
being good ourselves, is not good enough. We have to influence others to be good
too! And sadly, this is the reason why Noach is considered righteous, ONLY in
Yes my friends, to be a good and a G-d fearing person is
not good enough; we have to try make others to be good too! We have to try to
teach others to believe in G-d and help them to keep his commandments too. When we
pray for health and prosperity for ourselves, we need to pray for others too.
The misfortune and suffering of others should make us feel sad too. We should
always pray for the welfare of the others even if we don’t agree with what they
do. We should always be against destruction and killing, and cherish and respect
life. We should be the people of peace and love, and not hatred and fight!
Remember that we are not here to judge others, but rather, we are here to care
for others. We are all responsible to teach our children, our families and
friends about the mitzvot of Hashem and try to help others as much as we can.
Judaism is not an individual religion, but rather, it can only survive as a
congregation, when people live in peace and harmony and serve G-d
So my friends, always remember the message of this week’s
parsha: “If you are a good person, you are considered to be righteous, only in
your generation, but if you are good and you help others to be good too, then
you’ve earned the title of righteousness which lasts forever”.
Shabbat Shalom, Rosh Chodesh Tov &