Sunday, October 22, 2006

Parsha - Noach

Click here for the full d'var Torah on Noach

“Noach, the man of the earth...” (Genesis 9; 20). Ramban explains that the description “man of ...” denotes a complete dedication to that thing, and a separation from anything else. As soon as he left the Ark Noach immediately set about sowing and planting the desolate world that he found. He devoted himself entirely to the earth. Similarly, Moshe was described as “man of G-d” (Deuteronomy 33; 1), signifying his complete devotion and total dedication to G-d.
In the very beginning of our portion Noach is also described as a man, but a ‘righteous man’ (6; 9). According to the Ramban’s definition this means that he dedicated himself to righteousness, and separated himself from anything else. Noach transforms from the epitome of righteousness, to a farmer, concerned not with righteousness, but with the earth. In the same verse that Noach is described as being a ‘man of the earth’ the Torah also shows us his descent from his level of sanctity. “vayachel Noach”, “Noach debased himself” (9; 20).
One could mistakenly assume that it was Noach’s concern with the earth that caused him to lose his righteousness. We assume that someone designated by G-d as ‘righteous’ must spend their time removed from worldly pursuits, engaging with the spiritual. Yet from his birth Noach had been recognised as someone able to work the earth, and transform it like nobody before him. He had a special relationship with the earth. Since the time of Cain nobody had been able to till the ground, yet during Noach’s lifetime the curse of the ground disappeared. Noach is also credited with the invention of the plough allowing people once again to work the ground (Midrash Tanchuma Bereishis 11). In fact Noach was named for his relationship with the earth, “And he called his name Noach saying, ‘This one will bring us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands, from the ground which G-d has cursed’.” Lamech, Noach’s father, recognised his potential to work and develop the ground, and remove its curse.

click here for the rest of the d'var Torah (in pdf format)

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Have a great week.
(PS Hopefully tomorrow I will be posting a couple of new Hilchot Shabbat shiurim).

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