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על כן יאמר כנמרד גבור ציד לפני ד'

Therefore, it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before Hashem.” (10:9)

Under such circumstances that there is no clearly-defined halachah that prohibits a certain activity, we will find a remonstrance such as: “It is not a Jewish thing,” or “Jewish people do not act in such a manner.” A point in question is the well-known psak, ruling, of the Noda B’Yehudah concerning hunting for sport. A wealthy Jew had just come into a sizeable estate, which included a large forest stocked with a variety of wild animals. The man asked the Noda B’Yehudah if he were permitted to hunt these animals on his newly-acquired forest. The Noda B’Yehudah replied that exclusive…

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וחם הוא אבי כנען ... וירא חם אבי כנען את ערות אביו ויגד לשני אחיו בחוץ

Cham, being the father of Canaan. (9:18)…Cham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers outside. (9:22)

Why does the Torah find it necessary to inform us twice that Cham was the father of Canaan? Horav Sholom Schwadron, zl, explains that the Torah is teaching us the reason that Canaan was such a morally-depraved person: his father, Cham. When one has a Cham for a father, he is hard-pressed to expunge the nefarious character traits that have likely become part of his DNA. Children inherit the nature of their parents. Does that mean that a child whose parents leave much to be desired in the areas of morality, ethicality, human decency is challenged with also being a…

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וישלח את הערב ויצא יצוא ושוב עד יבשת המים מעל הארץ

He sent out the raven, and it kept going and returning until the waters dried from upon the earth. (8:7)

The dove kept on returning with nothing in its mouth, an indication that the vegetation had not begun to grow. Noach also sent out the dove (seven days later) to see whether the waters had subsided. At first, the dove found no place that was dry. The dove returned. Seven days later, it was sent out again; this time it returned with a bitter olive in its mouth. The dove was symbolically implying, “Better that my food be bitter, but from G-d’s Hand, than sweet as honey, but dependent upon mortal man.” Chazal are teaching us an important lesson: better…

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נח איש צדיק תמים היה בדרתיו כי אתך ראיתי צדיק לפני בדר הזה

Noach was a righteous man, perfect in his generations. (6:9) For it is you that I have seen to be righteous before Me in this generation. (7:1)

The Ksav Sofer notes the description of Noach, tzaddik tamim, righteous and perfect – which is found in the opening pasuk of the parsha, as opposed to the later reference to him only as a tzaddik – as he and his family are summoned to enter the Teivah, Ark. What changed from the earlier Noach to the later Noach? He explains that the transformation came as a result of his fathering three sons, one of whom was a morally reprehensible, pernicious individual, who refused to bow to authority. Apparently, a flaw had resided in the tzaddik tamim if he had…

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אלה תולדות נח נח איש צדיק

These are the offspring of Noach – Noach was a righteous man. (6:9)

There is a devout Jew in Bnei Brak who serves as an Admor, Chassidic Rebbe. He does not have a multitude of chassidim, but he has a shul, which, as a result of his being the Rebbe, is full and serves as a Torah center for Jews to gather, pray and study Torah. Horav Yitzchak Hershkowitz, Shlita (Nitzotzos), explains how a man who was not born a Rebbe could become one (Chassidic leadership is transferred from father to son/son-in-law. In any event, it is a pedigree, family transference. One does not just put up a shingle on his door and…

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קנים תעשה את התבה

Make the Ark with compartments. (6:14)

The simple explanation of this pasuk is that the Ark was built with various compartments to house its many “travelers.” Chazal (Bereishis Rabbah 31:9) interpret kinnim as being derived from ken, a nest, referring to the birds which are offered by the metzora, spiritual leper, as penance for the sins that catalyzed the contraction of his disease. They comment, “As the ken metzora purifies the leper, so, too, does the Teivah, Ark, purify its passengers.” This is a reference to its human cargo, Noach and his family. Horav Reuven Karlinstein, zl, explains that the purification of the Teivah refers to…

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נח איש צדיק תמים היה בדרתיו

Noach was a righteous person, perfect in his generations. (6:9)

One of the more well-known debates among Chazal concerns the nature of Noach’s righteousness: Was it the real thing, or was it relative to the evildoers of his generation? Some sages maintain that it is in his praise: Noach was righteous even in his generation, which was corrupt. How much more so would he have been righteous in the generation of Avraham Avinu, which did not suffer from such an ignominious population? Others feel that b’dorosav, in his generations, is a critique of Noach, suggesting that only in his generation, which was extremely wicked, could he have earned such a…

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אלה תולדות נח נח איש צדיק תמים היה בדרתיו

These are the offspring of Noach – Noach was a righteous person, perfect in his generations. (6:9)

The term toldos, offspring, can also refer to spiritual offspring, the progeny one creates via mentoring them. One’s horizon is not limited to his personal circle. True, one’s greatest impact is on those within his environs, within his grasp, but, through the medium of teaching Torah, one’s reach far extends his grasp. This lesson is taught by Rashi in his commentary to Bamidbar 3:1, “These are the offspring of Aharon and Moshe.” The Torah, however, goes on to list only the sons of Aharon. What happened to the sons of Moshe Rabbeinu? Rashi quotes the Talmud Sanhedrin 19b, from which…

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נח איש צדיק תמים היה בדורותיו

Noach was a righteous man perfect in his generations. (6:9)

We do not find another leader treated as negatively and judged as harshly as Noach. The Torah writes, Tamim hayah b’dorosav; “Perfect in his generations.” Chazal interpret, “in his generations” in two ways. Some maintain this to be praiseworthy. Noach was righteous and perfect, even though he lived in a generation that was so corrupt that it had to be wiped out. Others counter that this statement is far from laudatory. Indeed, it implies that Noach’s righteousness was viewed relative to his community. They were so evil that they made him look good! The issue is not whether Noach was…

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נח איש צדיק תמים היה בדרתיו

Noach was a righteous man, perfect in his generation. (6:9)

The Talmud Sanhedrin 108b relates that actually the decree to annihilate the dor haMabul, generation of the Flood, had originally applied to Noach as well. It was rescinded due to the chein, favor, Noach found before Hashem: V’Noach matzah chein b’einei Hashem, “Noach found favor in the eyes of Hashem” (Bereishis 6:8). The question which confronts the reader is whether or not Noach was worthy of reprieve. If he was not, why should “favor” alter his sentence? Since when does favor determine one’s worthiness? Our sages debate the integrity of Noach’s virtue:  Did it stand on its own accord, or…

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