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parashas Noach 5780

B”H

Shiur for parashas Noach 5780
by Tzvi Schnee

“‘For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I blot out from off the face of the earth.”

– Genesis 7:4, JPS 1917 Tanach

Noah was given the opportunity for one-hundred twenty years to warn his fellow human beings of the impending flood, by way of calling them towards teshuvah (repentance). During this time, the inhabitants of the earth would notice Noah and his three sons building the ark; so, they would ask for what reason is he doing so. When he explained, they had the chance to take the warning to heart, and change themselves for the better.

“And to him that ordereth his way aright will I show the salvation of G-d” (Psalm 50:23b, JPS). This is G-d’s fairness, that he gave all of mankind a chance to turn from their wicked ways. For, “the L-RD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Genesis 6:5, JPS).

When the actual time drew near, Noah was given a seven day notice until the all-encompassing dreadful and disastrous Mabul (Flood) that wreaked a fateful havoc upon the earth and its inhabitants. According to Targum Yonatan, this was a brief extension of the 120 year period, a final call to teshuvah (repentance) for the inhabitants of the earth: “For, behold, I give you space of seven days; if they will be converted, it shall be forgiven them; but if they will not be converted, after a time of days yet seven, I will cause rain to come down upon the earth forty days and forty nights, and will destroy all bodies of man and of beast upon the earth” (Targum Jonathan on Genesis 7:14, sefaria.org).

The seven days that preceded the beginning of the flood are seen by Akeidat Yitzchak as G-d’s mourning period for mankind. This shows that He was grieved, despite His own recourse to bring the flood upon mankind. As Torah itself conveys, “And it repented the L-RD that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart” (Genesis 6:8, JPS).

parashas Bereishis 5780

B”H

shiur for parashas Bereishis 5780
by Tzvi Schnee

The first name of G-d that appears in the Torah is Elokim, the second is YHVH. The first name represents justice, the second mercy. The second name does not appear until after Adam’s creation is mentioned for a second time in Torah, beginning in chapter two. Therefore, it may be understood, that G-d’s name, YHVH represents mercy towards man. Chazal explain that man would not have been able to survive, according to the Attribute of Justice. So the Attribute of Mercy also played a role in the beginning of creation, in order to balance justice with mercy.

Through H’Shem’s Attribute of mercy, teshuvah (repentance), i.e., the forgiveness of sins is offered to mankind. This is built into the fabric of existence, as noted in the Talmud (Nedarim 39b), that teshuvah was created before the world, based on the proximity of the following pasukim (verses): “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever Thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God. Thou turnest man to contrition; And sayest: ‘Return, ye children of men'” (Psalm 90:2-3, JPS).

It is as if H’Shem, Who knows past, present and future, used His foresight to prepare teshuvah (repentance) as the remedy, before the sickness (aveiros; i.e., sin). Sin separates us from G-d: “Your iniquities have separated between you and your G-d, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2, JPS 1917 Tanach).

Yet, through teshuvah – a turning towards G-d in our lives – our connection with G-d may be restored; His Attribute of Mercy permits this restoration. Thus, because of man’s frailities, G-d created Chesed (Mercy), knowing that mankind would need to be shown leniency when being judgded according to the Attribute of Justice.

In reflecting on creation, it may become apparent that all that was created during the first six days provides man with the perfect environment for spiritual as well as material needs. Even a safety net when we fall – teshuvah, as a means to stand upright. “For a righteous man falleth seven times, and riseth up again” (Proverbs 24:16, JPS).

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