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by Pinchas Landis    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

A Jew cannot help but feel great pain and sadness during the reading of Parshat Noach. Throughout the entire portion we are reminded of how perilous the situation is in which we live today.




A Jew cannot help but feel great pain and sadness during the reading of Parshat Noach. Throughout the entire portion we are reminded of how perilous the situation is in which we live today. The portion begins with Hashem’s decree to destroy the entire civilization as it existed. The civilization suffered from great theft, immorality, and corruption. Hashem was going to save the one noble man of the generation and his family, Noah. He was given one task, to build an ark to house the world’s many species during the days of the flood so that civilization could be restarted afterwards. Rashi, the fundamental commentator on the Torah, points out that Hashem could have saved Noah in many ways, but the option He chose was for Noah to build an ark that would take 120 years to complete. Why would Hashem burden his one righteous person with such an enormous task?

Hashem wanted all of the wicked people of the generation to see that Noah was chopping down trees and constructing a rather bizarre structure. This sight would surely cause them to question Noah. When Noah would answer, "G-d is about to bring a flood on the world because of your sins," the people would hopefully realize their tremendous wrongdoing and do sincere teshuvah (repentance). Unfortunately, they only scoffed at Noah and paid his warning no attention.

Here we see a whole generation that was destroyed because they couldn’t repent, and how different are we!!! The generation of the flood was given 120 years to repent before Hashem destroyed them, and they had a constant reminder over those years. We have been given over 1900 years, and we are still in galut (exile). And what is our sin? Why were we thrown into this bitter galut over 1900 years ago? According to our sages, it is because of sinat chinam, baseless hatred. We are taught that the first step in returning to Hashem is regretting our actions and resolving to correct them. We cannot even get that far. We still hate each other for absolutely no reason when the clear solution to our major problem is ahavat chinam, baseless love.

Many Jews are standing on top of their soapboxes and preaching for Jews to hate other Jews. Too many Jews make it a hobby to speak lashon hara (slander) about other Jews. If we cannot even get past this first step, how can we ever expect to be redeemed? Do we not see the arks that Hashem has placed in front of us to tell us to correct our ways? Is having our Beit HaMikdash (Temple) destroyed not the same as the ark to motivate us? Is being hurled from our homeland not the same as the ark? Is the Jewish assimilation that is running rampant in this world not an ark? And yet, we are still in galut.

Then, this week’s Torah portion just rubs salt in our wounds when Noah is emancipated from his ark. The first thing that he does upon arrival on dry land is bring an offering to Hashem. Where does he bring this offering? According to Rambam, the great 12th century codifier of Jewish law, the offering was brought upon Mount Moriah, the very spot where our Beit HaMikdash stood before it was destroyed, and the very place where, G-d willing, it will stand again if we can only get our acts together.

If we cannot learn from the mistakes of past generations, then whom can we learn from? It is time that we see the arks in our world today, and accept the lessons that they are teaching. We are the only ones who can bring the geulah (redemption). When we all move on to the next world, one of the questions that we will be asked is, "Did you anticipate the redemption?" How will we be able to answer "yes" if we are not working to get rid of the very thing that caused our exile in the first place? We must show ahavat chinam, baseless love. It is time that we all start working to bring the Jewish people together. This is the only thing that will bring our ultimate redemption.


Pinchas Landis, a native Atlantan, writes from Baltimore.

You are invited to read more Parshat Noach articles.

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