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Parshas Noach 5758 - '97

Outline Vol. 2 #1

by Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein

Lessons of Noach:

Natural Occurrences

There is a clear message in the early parshiyos of the Torah, one that is often forgotten or denied. The first man and woman eat the forbidden fruit and are sent out of Gan Eden. Kayin (Cain) kills and is killed. The generation of the Flood are wiped out, as are the people of S'dom. The message is that occurrences are not merely due to chance, nor should they be attributed to ordinary natural causes, but may very well be determined by our conduct and character. (See further: Tosafos to K'suvos 30a, beginning "Hakol")

The Yismach Moshe explained how service is performed by the body and soul: Service requires that the body be humbled and the soul be strengthened. In today's weak state of affairs, however, as we strengthen ourselves in service, our bodies become haughty and overbearing. Hardships which come our way, serve to humble our bodies, and, at the same time, strengthen our intellectual perception; in today's weak state of affairs -- when our bodies are weakened, our thinking becomes clouded, as well.

Yaros Devash discussed the sacrifices. The sacrifices come from animals, because the animal has the spirit of life (associated with movement). Thus, it is considered to have some spiritual aspect. The spiritual is the portion of Hashem. The vegetative is regarded as having only body and no spirit, and is not fit for sacrifice. This was the difference between the offerings of Kayin (Cain) and Hevel (Abel). Hevel brought from the animal, which, having the soul of life, represents the spiritual gift. Kayin gave merely from the vegetable -- without spiritual -- which was not acceptable.

Why is it that we indeed find a non-animal offering? The poor-man's sacrifice is a tenth of an ephah measure of flour, without any animal component! The answer is that, since the poor-man can afford no more, Hashem is willing to forgo His portion.

Many people make a mistake. They think that, when a person is at the peak of suffering, and he cannot concentrate, he is exempt from davening (prayer). The truth is that Hashem always hears the cry from the heart. It is exactly comparable to the poor man's offering: although devoid of spiritual content -- since he can afford nothing else -- Hashem forsakes His portion and accepts the offering. (Yaros Devash, quoted in Yismach Moshe)

It is our job to lessen the significance of the material, and Hashem will not be demanding with His portion. (Yismach Moshe, Bereishis)

Note: Yaros Devash was written by Rav Yonason Eibeschutz, whose life was devastated by years of strife, due to a false accusation. The above is eloquent testimony to the ability of Tzadikim to bear suffering quietly...

Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein
Phone: 914-425-3565
Fax: 914-425-4296

Good Shabbos!

Text Copyright © '97 Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein and Project Genesis, Inc.



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