Dovid Weinberg – A Direct Descendant Of The Rama – Remedying The Sins Of The Generation Of The Flood

It says in Beresheis 6:11-13; “And the Earth became corrupted before Hashem, and the Earth was filled with robbery. And Hashem saw the Earth, and behold, it was corrupted, for every living creature had corrupted its way upon the Earth. And Hashem said to Noach, ‘The end of all living creatures has come before Me, for the Earth is filled with robbery through them, and behold, I will destroy them from the Earth.’”

It says in Pirkei Avos 4:11 that our Chochamim tell us that when every person does an Aveira he creates an antagonist for himself in a form of a Malach of Destruction but it cannot harm this person until the sentence is passed in the Heavenly Beis Din. The Ohr Hachaim explains that this is forbearance which is preventing this Malach in harming the person prior to judgment. Once the person is judged and found guilty, the Malach that which you created through your Aveira is now free to wreck its devastation, so the person is in fact the author of his very own punishment.

There is a general rule, however, that when the sins of a person are so numerous as well as serious that the person’s guilt is a forgone conclusion, in that case the Malachim of Destruction are granted permission even before the sentence has passed. This was the fate of the Generation of the Great Flood, for their Aveiros were so numerous and serious that the Malachim of Destruction were unleashed before the generation was tried by the Heavenly Tribunal.

Rashi says their fate was sealed because of robbery. Why was robbery the one that sealed the Generation of the Great Flood more than any other Aveira that they committed?

The Zera Shimshon answers that because of thievery everyone was steeped in immorality as well. It says in Yalkut Shimoni Iyov: 909 that the people walked around without clothes on because thievery was so rampant that people were afraid to wear clothing for they feared someone would steal it off their backs. It would have been bad enough in the eyes of Hashem if people walked around immodestly because of an innate lack of tzniyus, but walking around without clothes because of a thievery issue was worse.

Another reason that thievery was the Aveira that caused that Generation total annihilation is because regardless of how serious the Aveiros that the entire generation committed, Hashem was prepared to deal mercifully with the people. However, since the people showed no mercy to other people when they robbed someone without the least compunction, they lost the benefit of all merciful treatment. It was because of this lack of mercy and care toward one another that sealed their fate.

What we must take from here is that now we that have begun the month of Mar Cheshvan we must continue to grow in the way that we were during all the Yomim Tovim of last month. All Klal Yisroel should continue to grow in Torah and Chesed and know that the total opposite of thievery is doing Chesed for one another. It’s also another way we can bring about Achdus among Klal Yisroel. If all Klal Yisroel acted on this, we can do the opposite of the Generation of the Flood and when Hashem sees us acting with Chesed with one another as well as unitying, Hashem will bring the Final Geulah.

Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim – Associate Rosh Yeshiva – PTI – Passaic Torah Institute – Noach – Going The Extra Mile With Kindness

Before I gave my parsha shiur late Thursday night, I was wiped out from Sukkos and all the lectures I gave on Yom Tov, and I expected sparse attendance. “Maybe I should skip this week,” I thought. Nevertheless, I pushed myself to prepare, and while it was a smaller crowd, I gave it my best. The next morning, an old friend who is a rabbi in a different community called me. “Baruch, I was searching on Torah Anytime for a shiur on the parsha and I saw your name, so I downloaded it. It was fabulous! Can you tell me about the sources you used? I want to use this in my Shabbos drasha.”

Wow, I thought to myself. Hashem is sending me a message. I made the effort to spread Torah and inspired another rav and who knows how many others through him. After Shabbos, my friend sent me a text that his drasha went very well. This whole interaction gave me a tremendous insight into Parshas Noach.

Hashem instructed Noach to build a teiva (ark) to save himself and his family from the bubbling hot waters of the flood. Indeed, anything outside the teiva was destroyed. However, Chazal tell us that Eretz Yisrael was unaffected by the flood! So why didn’t Hashem send Noach and all the animals to Eretz Yisrael to be spared? Why did Noach need to become the caretaker of the largest zoo in world history, spending day and night feeding all the animals of the world?

Rav Dessler, expounding on Rashi, explains that the Torah refers to Noach as a tzadik, a righteous person, while Avraham is referred to as a chasid, someone who does chesed (kindness). The difference between a tzadik and a chasid is the latter goes above and beyond the call of duty for others. Hashem had informed Noach of the upcoming destruction of the world, while Avraham was informed of the upcoming destruction of Sodom. Yet their reactions were very different. Noach built a teiva to save himself and his family, giving up on the wicked people, while Avraham prayed to Hashem to spare the lives of the people of Sodom. The Lev Simcha notes that Noach was given 100 years to build the teiva, to convince the world in that time to change its ways. However, Noach only spoke to those who approached and inquired why he was building this massive boat, while Avraham traveled far and wide to tell people about Hashem.

Noach was righteous, but he did not measure up to Avraham in chesed. Chazal tell us, “Olam chesed yibaneh”—Hashem built the world with chesed. My rebbe, Rav Asher Arieli, related that since the teiva was a “re-creation of the world,” it had to be built on chesed. That’s why Noach had to be busy with chesed the entire time.

Looking further, we see the decree to destroy the world was because of the crimes of chamas—extortion and immoral relations (in both men and beasts). Both of these crimes are rooted in selfishness and a lack of chesed.

Since the world lacked chesed, it was essential for Noach to build a teiva for himself and all the animals of the world, so he and his family would be literally steeped in chesed, caring for others day and night. Even though Eretz Yisrael was spared, Noach and his family did not merit to be saved unless they had the protection of chesed.

Klal Yisrael as a people possess three special characteristics: compassion, shame as a result of sin, and benevolence (chesed). The Gemara in Yevamos tells us chesed was inserted into our DNA by Avraham. All Jews possess this quality of chesed. We are constantly presented with opportunities to help others, but sometimes we might think our actions won’t help: “I tried presenting a shidduch to that family and they said no. I’m sure they will turn down the next one, so why bother.” “Last week I picked up groceries for my neighbors and they didn’t even say thank you. Why do it again?” “Why bother giving my $10 gift when they need to raise a million dollars?”

Similar thinking may have been on Noach’s mind. “Why bother talking to them—they don’t want to listen!” Yet, we are descendants of Avraham, who left no stone unturned in the pursuit of chesed. I was going down that road myself in my thoughts of skipping my Thursday night shiur. Hashem sent me a message that it was worth the extra mile.

Let’s always remember: we have so many opportunities, every day of the week, to do an act of chesed. Each act of chesed helps sustain the world!!

Yeshiva University and OU Press Celebrate Completion of Soloveitchik Chumash on October 14, 2018

Aleeza Ben Shalom – Deepening A Long-Distance Relationship

Long-distance relationships have their ups and downs. Your heart may be happy but your day-to-day relationship can be challenging. Here are some ideas to keep stress and anxiety at bay and to help you move your relationship forward.

The delicate travel balance. How often do you pack up and how long do you stay? Of course there are many factors, like how much time you can get off from work and what kind of travel budget you have. All things being equal, it would be ideal to see each other every 3 weeks for 2-4 days at a time. With budget concerns, work schedules and intercontinental dating, every 3 weeks may not work. Try not to let more than 6 weeks go by without a meeting in person. Although video chat has advanced our dating, when you’re marriage-minded it’s vital to date someone in person, as a relationship can change drastically once you spend time together.

Managing visit expectations. My clients often tell me they feel extra pressure to make something special happen since so much time has passed since the last in-person meeting. Acknowledge your desire to make the visit meaningful, and also realize that things won’t go perfectly. All relationships have ups and downs, and although it’s no fun, it’s likely that at least one visit together will fall during one of those down moments.

The best preparation is mental preparation. Get your mind set to be present during your visit. Don’t let your past hurt or future worry be at the front of your mind. Try to enjoy just being together, whether you go out on the town or have a cozy date night just hanging out at home together.

Talk about expectations and fears. Some of us try so hard not to say what’s on our mind to avoid conflict, while some of us have a need to talk about things up front and be straightforward. Try to gauge when it’s the right time to talk about the stress of long-distance dating, as well as your expectations and your fears. Make sure you both know that expectations and fears are a normal part of all relationships – long-distance or not. Make a safe place for the other person to express what is on their mind. Provide comfort, and then go back to enjoying your relationship. Don’t dwell on your expectations or fears, as they are often related to your past or your future and are not rooted in the present moment.

How well do I know you? If you started your relationship at a distance, before thinking of getting engaged it’s a good idea for you to have time with their family and friends. People act differently when they are around others. Seeing someone in different contexts is important before taking the next step.

Calming insecurity. We all have insecurities about relationships and they often become even more pronounced with distance. For example, if you sometimes feel lonely or disconnected in a relationship, those feelings are usually much stronger and can last longer in a long-distance relationship. And that can leave you wondering if the relationship is real, or all a figment of your imagination.

These feelings are common. If you know these feelings are your own insecurity, you can try positive affirmations and reframing how you view yourself. If you’re not sure, you should discuss your feelings with your partner, and see if together you can find ways to make you feel better. Also know when it’s time to get help from a professional to guide you through the process of calming yourself.

Managing family and friends. Well-meaning family and friends often ask questions and try to guide you in your relationship, and can be even more involved when it’s long-distance. Before anyone has the opportunity to put you on the spot, think about who you want to speak to about your relationship and what you want to say. Seek advice from those you trust. For everyone else, remember that just because someone asks you a question doesn’t mean you have to answer. Long distance relationships are more fragile. Guard your relationship and give it the appropriate privacy so it can flourish.

Quelling cold feet. While the old adage is absence makes the heart grow fonder, the reality is that absence can also create distance, and distance can lead to cold feet. Dating at a distance is an investment. Both sides have to be willing to put in a big effort to build the relationship. Give yourself extra time to allow the relationship to develop, and try to use a little extra patience during conflicts.

Have fun. You may feel like your in-person time has to be serious because you have limited time to get those important conversations out of the way. Like any relationship, remember to infuse it with fun as well as some serious moments. Give funny cards, or thoughtful gifts. Keep your sense of humor when you’re miles apart and especially when you spend time together.

Managing the transition to one location. By the time you finally get the hang of dating long-distance it will be time to learn how to live and date in the same city. One of you will need to make the transition to a new and unfamiliar location. If you’re the one moving, give yourself extra time to adjust to a new city and new life. Moving is a big challenge, and even more so when in a serious relationship. If you’re the one who got to stay in your city, be extra forgiving of your partner in the first month after the move.

Long-distance relationships require some serious work and consideration. Ask yourself if you’re up for the challenge, and if you are, give it your best effort.

Originally published on Aish.com.