Sunday, November 06, 2016

missing the boat

1. You would think that after seeing the punishment of the mabul, Noach would be a little careful and not get drunk right after leaving the teivah.  It's am amazing thing.  Sefas Emes (in the likkutim) explains that the truth is that Noach didn't drink any more after he left the teivah than he used to drink before he entered the teivah.  What he didn't realize is that the world had changed.  The wine that he used to be able to handle without a problem before the mabul now got him drunk.  The Tolna Rebbe notes the lesson for us: we have to recognize that the world changes, and what used to work and be accepted may not work anymore.  It used to be that a teacher could hit a child in cheider and that was considered acceptable.  Today, you can't educate a child that way.  There are many, many other examples one can give.  I saw an article very recently where argues that a certain practice was improper because our bubbes in the shtetl didn't do things that way.  Our bubbes in the shtel didn't have washing machines either, and didn't attend college, and didn't go to nail salons, but we live in a different world.  Of course, you have to know what can be accommodated and what is a true breach of halacha that has to be rejected, but that's why a person needs brains and advice from big talmidei chachamim. 

2. Rashi quotes on "Noach ish tzadik tamim haya b'dorosav" that "yesh dorshim l'shevach v'yesh dorshim l'genai."  Some explain this as a positive statement: Noach would have been all that much greater had he lived in better times.  Some darshen it as a negative: Noach was great only because those around him were so bad and the bar was set so low. 

Many ask: if it's possible to darshen the pasuk in a way the gives credit to Noach, why darshen it in a way that reflects badly on him?  I saw quoted from the Gerrer that those who darshen l'genai are trying to teach us a profound lesson as well.  Obviously Hashem will save a perfect tzadik.  The chiddush of our parsha is that Hashem will rescue even a flawed tzadik, even someone who is only "tzadik b'dorosav," relative to the low bar of his time.

3. Daughter #2 is in Queens College and has a sociology professor who one day happened to remark to the class that he lives in Brooklyn and sometimes passes through the hassidic neighborhoods and he is amazed at how the kids grow up retaining such a strong identity and remaining isolated from modernity.   

Rainbow cookies were on sale this week in the supermarket, so my wife bought some for Shabbos.  When Daughter #3 was asked why she thought the cookies were on sale for Parshas Noach, she replied, "Easy -- because the cookies have three layers just like the teivah had three decks."

Talk about missing the boat.   (That was bad)

Why give the simple answer that everyone else thinks of? 


  1. Re #1: R' Aharon Lichtenstein understands "tamim hayah bedorosav" as saying that Noach was tamim because he was able to define himself in contrast to his generation. Which is why, when left without a "I would never be one of those", he started failing.

    I am reminded of the Kotzker's: "If I am I because I am I, and you are you because you are you, then I am I and you are you. But if I am I because you are you and you are you because I am I, then I am not I and you are not you!"

  2. Ach, I wish I had thought of rainbow cookies for my kiddush. But moving forward, maybe I can find a theme for every parsha.... If you have any advice for Vayeira, when I'm reading this, please email me! And no, I'm not buying ram for the cholent.