Par­shas Noach - Do We See Our­selves As G-d Sees Us?

The Jewish Voice - - PARSHA - By: Rabbi Osher Jun­greis

There is a fa­mous Midrash based on this week's par­sha that asks, “If there are so many ways through which G-d could have saved Noah, then why did He make him go through the dif­fi­cult, arduous task of build­ing an ark that took one hun­dred and twenty years to com­plete?

The Midrash an­swers that HaShem, in His in­fi­nite mercy, did not want to bring the flood upon the world. He was hop­ing that man would re­con­sider his evil ways and re­pent. Thus, if Noah was seen busily build­ing his ark day in and day out, peo­ple would ask him what he was do­ing, and he would in­form them about the im­pend­ing flood tell them that they could can­cel the evil de­cree through re­pen­tance. It was all in their hands.

But this Midrash begs yet an­other ques­tion. Why couldn't Noah speak to the peo­ple di­rectly? Why did he need the ark as a prop? Why couldn't he in­spire the peo­ple to mend their ways? The an­swer to this ques­tion can be found in the be­gin­ning of the par­sha: “Now the earth had be­come cor­rupt be­fore G-d (Gen­e­sis, 6-11), teach­ing us that it was only in the sight of G-d that the earth was cor­rupt, but man saw noth­ing wrong with his life style. How does it hap­pen that man can be so blind to his own faults and cor­rup­tion?

The gen­er­a­tion of the flood was ob­sessed with he­do­nism and the pur­suit of plea­sure and in such a cli­mate, the law of G-d, which re­quires dis­ci­pline, is eclipsed. In a so­ci­ety with­out To­rah guide­lines, even the most de­praved acts be­come ac­cept­able. So Noah had no one with whom to talk; there was no one who was will­ing to lis­ten, for they all saw them­selves as “right­eous peo­ple”, and it never oc­curred to any of them to ask how G-d saw them.

Rabbi Yis­roel Salanter, the founder of the Mus­sar move­ment, ex­plained how this process takes place through the fol­low­ing anal­ogy: The first time a man com­mits a wrong, he feels guilty, but if he re­peats that act of­ten enough, his con­science will no longer bother him and even­tu­ally, he will see him­self as a paragon of virtue. So it is that im­moral­ity, deca­dence, de­gen­er­acy and cor­rup­tion can be­come an ac­cepted way of life and no longer be con­sid­ered sin­ful.

Sadly this les­son is of spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance to our gen­er­a­tion; for our cul­ture has also em­braced

The Midrash an­swers that HaShem, in His in­fi­nite mercy, did not want to bring the flood upon the world. He was hop­ing that man would re­con­sider his evil ways and re­pent.

he­do­nism, im­moral­ity and cor­rup­tion. We re­gard self-grat­i­fi­ca­tion as the ul­ti­mate goal, and we too pride our­selves on be­ing good and are in­ca­pable of see­ing our­selves as G-d sees us.

On­go­ing To­rah study is one of the most ef­fec­tive ways to over­come this gap - when we study G-d's Word we hear His voice, come to re­al­ize how far we have de­parted from His path

and take steps to come closer to Him. Make a com­mit­ment to at­tend To­rah classes reg­u­larly.

Still you might ask why Noah had to en­ter the ark why couldn't G-d have saved him in a dif­fer­ent man­ner. But G-d wanted to make cer­tain that when Noah and his fam­ily emerged and un­der­took the task of re-build­ing the world, they would be for­ti­fied with right­eous deeds. In the ark they had to care for all the an­i­mals that G-d had com­manded them to gather - back-break­ing la­bor that con­sumed them day and night, but through which they learned the mean­ing of chesed - reach­ing out with lov­ing kind­ness, and it is on the pil­lars of lov­ing kind­ness that G-d builds His world. As it is writ­ten "Olam Chessed Yi­bonoh" -The world is built upon the foun­da­tion of lov­ing kind­ness. (Psalm 89) - Ё

An artist’s ren­di­tion of Noach and the an­i­mals on the ark. Rabbi Osher writes: There is a fa­mous Midrash based on this week’s par­sha that asks, “If there are so many ways through which G-d could have saved Noah, then why did He make him go through the dif­fi­cult, arduous task of build­ing an ark that took one hun­dred and twenty years to com­plete?

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