Blog Noach Cheshvan 4 5779 בלן נֹחַ, ד’ חשון תשע”ט
When we invert the Hebrew letters of the name Noach (נֹחַ nun chet,) we get Chen, (חֵן chen, nun sofit) which means “grace”. Noach would bring consolation to humanity. After Enosh, it is written in Bereshit that “everyone began to invoke the name of God”. This, to me, is the first case of “fake news”. They leave out a very important word in the Hebrew “chuchal” which would force the translation to be quite the opposite – “everyone began to profane the name of God”. Our sages say that this is when idolatry had taken hold of the people. This makes far more sense, since only 1700 years after Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden the Creator sent the rains to flood the earth which had become totally corrupt. Instead of the people being made in the image of God, they began to make gods in their own image. Bereshit ends with the story of the Nephilim. In my understanding, these were very powerful leaders, men who had lost all concept of moral values. Whenever this has happened throughout the history of mankind, it has caused great empires to collapse and all but disappear. The other element that attributed to their fall was their hatred of Israel. Is this not what is happening in this day and age?
The Creator is not looking for superheroes. The Torah says that the LORD “regretted” having created man from the dust of the earth. This is a play on words…Adam (man) was made from adama (soil). When man’s body was formed from the earth, he became earthly, selfish, fleshly. It says that that He had sympathy for Noach who was “righteous צַדִּיק (tzaddik) and perfect תָּמִים (tamim) in his generation.” Tamim refers to being naïve, having no guile, non-violent in comparison to the violent (חָמָס- Hamas) men of that generation. The word for “regret” or “reconsidered having made them”, is coming from the root word “nechem” נחם which holds the understanding of comfort or sorrow. The idea here is like when we have children who are on the wrong track and there is little we can do to change their minds, we are sorry that they will have to experience the consequences of their poor choices, but we still remain their loving parents.
The Creator wants people who can live according to the moral values He laid down for us. We humans have been given the yetzer rah and the yetzer tov, the inclinations to do evil and good. Our yetzer rah (evil inclination) is very strong, making our daily lives a constant struggle to choose to do what is right.
The Creator promised that He would never again destroy the earth with a flood. The Torah speaks of two elements of cleansing – water and fire. The earth is entering a cycle when there are more and more fires, a sign of the Creator cleansing the earth by fire. With the invention of the atomic, hydrogen and nuclear bombs, man is capable of decimating the earth. We have become so selfish that few people care about anyone else. The Tower of Babel is a picture that humanity wanted to eliminate God and replace Him with their own gods, again much like today. This happened just before Noach. Humanity has not changed, still denying that the Creator breathed His spark of life into us.
It is easy to be selfish and to feel like we are the center of the world. When we are the center we become lax where we easily accept whatever others tell us with the attitude I’m ok, you’re ok. However, immorality infects society and when we become so open minded that we accept everything, it is too late when it finally does affect us. We have reached the stage where debauchery reigns unrestrictedly and we are called bigots because we as Torah observers take a stand up for moral principles.
Noach was nonchalant and was different than the others around him. He was not perfect, but he was obedient to the end. That’s how the Creator wants us to be. We need to be different. That doesn’t mean we have to wear a religious uniform or be holier than thou. It means that we apply the moral principles of the Torah to our lives. It means that we are the same at home with our family as we are with those outside the home. Let us not be hypocrites wearing a religious mask. We need to have only one face even when the world judges us by appearances. The Creator wants us to be like Noach, tzaddik and tamim; not super-heroes but ones who live a moral life in a world that has accepts immorality and vulgarity as normal.
We are on the threshold of destruction, under attack in the same way that Israel is under attack by the world. Israel is a microcosm of the entire world. Anti-Semitism is the modern anti-Israel. Israel is said to be the only country that doesn’t have the right to exist. Be careful about what you hear in the news for as we see “fake news” is not new. Don’t allow others to tell you what to believe but search out the truth for yourself. Whenever you have the opportunity, speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves as it says in Mishlei, Proverbs 31: 8-9… “Speak up for the dumb, for the rights of all the unfortunate. Speak up, judge righteously, and champion the poor and the needy”. It is time to actively speak out our values to those around us. That doesn’t mean we need to convert anyone. Noach couldn’t convert one person. The key lies in how we live…what you see is how we are! Don’t perform. Don’t be a light out home and darkness at home. The first thing that Noach did was to plant a vineyard and get drunk. He was a human being! Be real, and when we fail, we have the right to return to our Creator who helps us to be a light to others.