Thursday, October 19, 2023

Parshas Noach 5784




Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Noach

5 MarCheshvan 5783/October 20, 2023



Like everyone else, after the unspeakable atrocities that occurred in Eretz Yisroel on Simchas Torah, I was and am looking for all the chizuk I can get. I have listened to quite a few lectures from various rabbonim to hear their reflections and thoughts.

I find it incredible that each speaker cites a different Torah source to relate to the tragedy and serve as a source of chizuk.

Some pointed to tragedies that occurred to Dovid Hamelech and how Dovid responded. Others quoted the ominous predictions in Shiras Ha’azinu.

One speaker drew a parallel between the snakes that unexpectedly attacked Klal Yisroel in the desert, mentioned in Parshas Chukas.

Many quoted from the Rambam about the need to be part of the tzibbur during times of challenge, or various other passages from the Rambam.

There were those who quoted the opening words of the Torah when primordial darkness was overwhelmed by celestial light. In Eretz Yisroel too, a horrific and sinister darkness descended upon our people. Yet, the Jewish response was by generating heavenly light through acts of selfless kindness, love, giving and generating feelings of national unity.

My rebbe, Rabbi Berel Wein, noted how after Kayin murdered Hevel, Kayin seemed to be in pretty good shape. The first murderer was given a seven-generation reprieve and enjoyed seeing generations of descendants. They populated the world, and the murder seems to have been forgotten. Meanwhile Hevel and the forces of good seem to have been obliterated.

But that’s because we have a narrow-minded and impatient view of life and world events. In the bigger picture, Kayin was eventually killed by one of his descendants and all his descendants were destroyed in the flood. Meanwhile the legacy of Hevel lives on in Avrohom and his children.

In the short term, evil can indeed prosper. But the broader view of world history demonstrates that evil does not endure and eventually dissipates into the ashbin of history.

So will be the fate of our current enemies as well. But the road is long, painful and bitter and we need to have patience, fortitude and faith.

One of our greatest sources of chizuk is one that we unfortunately do not take advantage of. The Gemara relates that during the era of prophecy there were hundreds of prophets. However, only prophecies that have eternal meaning were recorded for posterity. The Prophets didn’t only speak to their generation. The words of the prophets, particularly those in the weekly haftorah, contain timeless words that continue to reverberate. Sadly, we often fail to pay attention to them.

In the haftorah of Bereishis (incidentally, we didn’t read that haftorah this year, because it was Erev Rosh Chodesh), Yeshaya HaNavi tells us that we are to be a light for the nations. He acknowledges that in exile we are a downtrodden and plundered nation. He reassures us, however, that in the future Hashem will mete retribution out upon our enemies.

One can close his eyes and listen as the Navi declares to us: “But now, so says Hashem, your Creator, Yaakov, and your maker, Yisrael, do not fear for I will redeem you. I called you by your name to be Mine. Even if you pass through waters, I am with you, and through the rivers they will not drown you. Even in a raging fire you will not be singed, and flames will not burn you… Since you are precious in My eyes, and honored, and I love you… All b’nei Yisroel are called by My Name, created for My honor… You are my witnesses, says Hashem, and my Navi, whom I have chosen…”

The haftorah of Parshas Noach contains similar themes, discussing Hashem’s eternal love for His people, and the glory that awaits us.

I find it incredible that despite the fact that we are speechless about the tragedy that occurred, we are able to draw comfort and chizuk from numerous sources throughout the Torah. The Hamas attacks occurred on the day when we celebrate our eternal and inextricable connection to the Torah. These days we are reminded of how true the following is: While we dance and physically carry the Torah, it is the Torah that spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically carries and guides us.

And just as the Torah is eternal, so are its people who uphold it and are upholden by it.



Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

        R’ Dani and Chani Staum