by Rabbi Dovid Green
Noach is one of the people who saw the world before its destruction,
survived the actual tragic ending, and saw the world in its rebirth. We are
told of how Noach emerged from the Ark and brought sacrifices to G-d. Then
Noach sets out to plant a vineyard. From its grapes he makes wine, drinks
and becomes drunk. He is found by his son Cham in his tent, undressed, and
in an embarassing state. Instead of taking action, Cham leaves Noach in his
drunken state and reports the incident to his brothers, Shem, and Yefes.
Shem and Yefes immediately set out to cover their father and minimize his
embarrassment. They take a blanket, and walking backwards they drape the
blanket over their father without staring at him in his low state. When
Noach awakes, and finds out what happened, he blesses Shem and Yefes, and
curses the descendants of Cham. (See Genesis 9:18-29)
The lesson and and focus of this story is what Shem and Yefes did. Unlike
Cham who publicized the shame of his father, Shem and Yefes sought to hide
it. Shem and Yefes showed their father consideration, and attempted to
restore his dignity.
In the book "Reaching the Stars" by Ruchoma Shain, the following story is
told. Mrs. Shain was a general studies teacher in a Jewish school, teaching
1st grade. There was a child named Ruthie in her class whose parents were
immigrants from Hungary. Ruthie's father, a bricklayer, had fallen off of a
scaffold and injured his spine. He was confined to a wheelchair. Her mother
with the burden of caring for the family singlehandedly, suffered a
breakdown and was hospitalized. The children were shunted between relatives
and friend, their lives falling apart in front of them. This young child,
suffering and confused, came to school every day, but never spoke a word.
Every attempt to coax the child out of her shell met with failure. Toward
the spring Ruthie still had not uttered a word in class. During a game, the
children were sitting on the floor near the radiator. Mrs. Shain noticed a
puddle growing under Ruthie, and she knew what would happen to Ruthie if the
other girls became aware that she had had an accident. The embarrassment
would be a death blow to the child. The children were absorbed in their game
and had not yet discovered what had occured. Mrs. Shain rapped on her desk
with her ruler, and got everyone back to their seats. "The radiator is
leaking badly and causing a puddle on the floor, and so you should get ready
for dismissal." Mrs Shain never lied to her students, but in this case she
made an exception. Another few minutes and the children were gone. The door
opened and there stood Ruthie. "Uh... Uh... Mrs. Shain," she whispered.
Those were her only words. Then Ruthie took Mrs Shain's hand, kissed it, and
fled from the room.
The student of Torah takes an important lesson from the events of this
week's parsha. We must always try to understand others; not to seek their
faults, and to try to bring out the good which is in everyone. When the
opportunity presents itself, we should even try to prevent others from
becoming aware of other's mistakes, shortcomings, and personality flaws.
This is most important in regard to close relationships such as between
siblings, and husbands and wives. In the merit of taking this lesson to
heart, may we merit that G-d should always emphasize the good in us, and
ignore our faults and shortcomings.
Text Copyright © 1997 Rabbi Dovid Green and
Project Genesis, Inc.