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PARASHAS NOACH - Noach Means Menucha. How Do We Achieve Menuchat HaNefesh

Noach 1 year 1 issue 9
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Noach booklet
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וְנֹחַ מָצָא חֵן בְּעֵינֵי יְהוָה:

אֵלֶּה תּוֹלְדֹת נֹחַ נֹחַ אִישׁ צַדִּיק תָּמִים הָיָה בְּדֹרֹתָיו אֶת־הָאֱלֹהִים הִתְהַלֶּךְ־נֹחַ׃

But Noah found favor with the Hashem.

This is the line of Noah. —Noah was a righteous man; he was blameless in his age; Noah walked with God. —

אלה תולדת נח נח איש צדיק. הוֹאִיל וְהִזְכִּירוֹ סִפֵּר בְּשִׁבְחוֹ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר זֵכֶר צַדִּיק לִבְרָכָה (משלי י'). דָּבָר אַחֵר לִמֶּדְךָ שֶׁעִקַּר תּוֹלְדוֹתֵיהֶם שֶׁל צַדִּיקִים מַעֲשִׂים טוֹבִים:

Noach, A way of life.

Parashas Noach discusses the incident of the Mabul and the teivah. It is interesting to note that Noach has a parasha named after him while none of the Avos did. What was so exceptional about Noach that warranted this honor?

The reason a parasha was named after Noach is that Noach is not only a name but also manifests a way of life. Noach's approach to life was the antithesis of the rest of his generation's, ultimately saving the world at that juncture in history. The Da'as Zkenim Meba'alei Tosfos brings from a Medrash that the name Noach signified 'Noach Le'elyonim Ve'noach Le'tachtonim,' that Noach was easygoing and good-natured; his name indicated his way of life.

Noach Found Favor In Hashems Eyes

The torah states: Noah was a righteous man; he was perfect in his generations.' Rashi asks why the Torah praises Noach when introducing him, as we generally complement a person's character only after his death (e.g. zt"l)? Rashi goes on to explain that the reason the Torah commends Noach in this way is in accordance with the rule that when a tzaddik is mentioned, one should sing his praises, as it says (Proverbs 10:7): "The mention of the righteous shall be for a blessing." This is in contrast to the Ramban, who learns that this introduction is essential to the continuation of the parasha and understanding why Noach merited to build the ark: he is ‘Ish Tzaddik Bedorosov.’ The Chizkuni learns that the words ‘Ish Tzadik Tomim Hoyo Bedorosov’ is an explanation of the previous parasha, where it says, ‘Ve'Noach Motzo Chein Be'eyney Hashem’, he finds favor in the eyes of Hashem. Why is this so? Because ‘Ish Tzadik Tomim Hoyo Bedorosov’. Noach was a ‘Tzadik Tomim Hoyo Bedorosov’; these specific attributes found favor in Hashem's eyes. The words chein and Noach are anagrams: Noach had favor within him.

Being Happy means living with Hashem

Why do these attributes bring chein, and what was the chein of Noach? How did these attributes save Noach and the world in the time of Dor Hamabul? ‘Tzadik Tomim’ can be understood to mean a complete tzaddik, and this is how the Targum interprets it. However, the trop in the posuk indicates that tzadik and tomim are two separate things. What is the attribute of tomim? The Seforno explains that tomim refers to the completeness of Noach's thoughts and mind. The word tomim is found in the Torah in the posuk, ‘Tomim Teheye Im Hashem Elokecha.’ What is the advantage in being tomim?

Rashi brings from Chazal, ‘Velo Tachkor Achar Ha'asidos’—one should not question and search into the future. The tomim does not seek to predict the future or decipher it through magical or astrological means. However, beyond the prohibition to attempt to reveal the future, tomim can also be an attribute: to be content and live in the moment. Being content and happy means living with Hashem. Those who do not include Hashem in their life will always be restlessly searching and probing the future.

Content in this world- content in shomayim

Eleh Toldos Noach, Noach Ish Tzaddik’. A tzaddik is someone who lives with Hashem. The Sefarim elaborate that those who live in harmony with Hashem and have Hashem within them have chein. The goodness of Noach is that he is content. "Noach" comes from the word menucha, to be at rest. When we are content, we have menucha. This is possibly why Chazal say 'Noach Le'elyonim Ve'noach Le'tachtonim': Noach was at peace and content with the elyonim-in shomayim because he was at peace and content with the tachtonim- in this world. People sometimes find themselves fighting and arguing, trying to seize and acquire things in life. But when a person is content with their ruchniyus and gashmiyus, they have menucha both in the elyonim and the tachtonim. From here, one can see that Noach's name means a lot more than what is on the surface.

Bezayas Apecho Tochal Lechem

Rashi says that Noach was called so because ‘Ze Y'nachamaynu Mema'asaynu Ume'itzvon Yodeinu’. It was hoped that Noach would alleviate anger, depression, and conflict. Why was this necessary? There was a klala that ‘Bezayas Apecho Tochal Lechem’. There was a daily struggle to make parnassa, and Noach took away the itzvon, sadness, which is the opposite of menucha. Rashi explains that Noach invented a thresher that eased parnassa and work in the field.

A deeper meaning could be that in Noach's time, this klala subsided somewhat. Part of the klala of ‘Bezayas Apecho Tochal Lechem’ is that a person is never satisfied with what he has. ‘Me Sheyesh Lo Mone Rotzeh Masayim’. People are always searching for more. So Noach, who is menucha, contentedness, was the tikkun to the klala and made it weaker.

Noach and Shabbos – Completeion and haromony

The Zohar says that Noach is connected to Shabbos: On Shabbos, we are freed from this klala and have menucha because we are disconnected from the outside world, in harmony with Hashem. Shabbos is known as Shabbos Menucha, and in the zemiros, we say ‘Yonah Motzah Vo Manoach’. They are both closely joined. When the teivah came to rest on Harei Ararat, the verb used is Vatanach—the teivah itself being an exercise of menucha. Noach represents completion and harmony, as does Shabbos.

Chazal say, ‘Boa Shabbos Boa Menucha’. Shabbos was given because the world needs menucha-rest, and Shabbos completed creation. Shabbos and sholom are also very interconnected; when one is at peace, sholom, you feel completeness, shleimus.

The Dor Hamabul was the opposite of Noach. Chazal say the two aveiros that stood out in this generation were gezel, stealing, and ariyos min beshe'eino mino, searching for other species. Gezel occurs when one is not happy with what one has. Min beshe'eino mino also stems from discontentedness. The world was created with shleimus, but as soon as that wholeness breaks down, one ends up in a constant downward spiral of moral degradation. Therefore, this parasha is named Noach. It is not for the person's name, but rather for the menucha and chein. It is fitting because it is the opposite of the Dor Hamabul.

Noach Belived And Did Not Belive

People can often be critical, a middah called ragzanus. This is usually because something from within them is missing. Usually, People who are negative suffer from low self-esteem. Noach was a person who rarely understood or believed the bad in others. Chazal say that Noach was a small believer: he believed and did not believe. Noach never believed the mabul would come to the extent that Hashem forced him into the teivah. That sounds like he was a koifer, so why was he called a ‘Tzaddik Bedorosov’? The explanation is that Noach had such a strong belief in the chessed of Hashem that he did not believe Hashem would destroy the world. Furthermore, He did not honestly believe that the people around him were evil. Noach saw everything in a very positive light, and this perception of the world is what made Chazal say that he believed and did not believe.

The mabul was called Mei Noach, the Water of Noach. The Zohar explains that this is because he never davened for his generation, so we attribute the mabul to him. Why did Noach not daven? Rashi says that Noach did not daven for his generation because he never fully believed that there would be a mabul. This is a tremendous lesson. ‘Tomim Teheye—Im Hashem Elokecha’. The Chofetz Chaim says a person should always believe in the good and be positive regarding Hashem. However, regarding people, one must be wary and circumspective. There is a balance to be struck between this wariness and believing the best of people; however, this balance should not be founded on negativity. In a world of negativity there is theft and unappreciation, leading to the breakdown and destruction of our beautiful world.

Focus on The Positivity

The Torah goes on to say, ‘Vayochel Noach Ish Hoadama.’ Chazal explain that Noach made a big mistake, being that as soon as he left the teivah, he turned to wine. He did this because he was depressed. Noach should have looked to the future and seen the world's potential, but instead, he focused on the current depressing situation.

Every morning, when a person wakes up, there are two paths he can follow. He can look at the days that passed and all the problems he has been through, or he can be positive and see the future there is ahead of him. That is where menucha comes in, the opposite of itzovon. ‘Bezeat Apecho Tochal Lechem’ was the past. Noach was mechadeish a way to alleviate this: optimistically moving towards the future and leaving the past and the klala behind.

Be Happy with what you have

The Chazzon Ish said nothing in this world could make him unhappy because he had the greatest gift in this world: the Torah. When a person feels complete, when he feels he has what he needs and what is right for him, depression cannot overcome him.

The pressure of parnassa is caused by a voice in our mind telling us we do not have what we need, that we need more, and that is the biggest klala: the feeling that we lack what we need and the never-ending search for it.

Every Godol has people who oppose them. Rav Elyashiv experienced this as well. There was a group of people who used to throw rocks at Rav Eliyashiv. His grandson once asked him, "Does it bother you that they are throwing rocks?" He answered, "No. We should daven that they should have parnassa, then they will not throw rocks." If they were happy and content with their parnassa and felt they had enough money, they would not act in a derogatory manner. Parnassa is dangerous because not understanding it properly can lead to terrible things.

Noach- being good with people

The Chofetz Chaim says Noach was ‘Motzo Chein Be'eyney Hashem’—because he was noach! He was good with people. His ability to be easy going and good-natured was rooted in deep satisfaction and contentedness, ‘Es Hoelokim His'haleich Noach,’ living in harmony with Hashem.

On the flight back from a recent trip from Eretz Yisrael, I saw a few heimishe yidden learning, and they were happy. I also saw non-jews, who were watching TV non-stop. I noticed that the people watching TV were more bothered than the Jews who were learning by things like other passengers moving their seats or having to move for other people. It seems like it should have been the other way around…

The explanation is, ‘Eleh Toldos Noach, Noach Ish Tzadik, Tomim Hoyo Bedoyrosov, Es Ho'elokim His'haleich Noach.’ Noach's name is written three times here since it is not only who he was, but why he was. Happy, calm, and content. This is how people can achieve inner peace, menuchas hanefesh: living in harmony with Hashem.

When R’ Shlomo Zalman Aurbach was nifter, R’ Noybert zt’’l and Dr Abram were with him and described the last moments of his life. He was drifting in and out of consciousness, and suddenly, right before he was nifter, he opened his eyes and gave them a big smile. That demonstrated the extent of his contentedness.

Parshas Noach is named for who Noach was and what he did in his life. Noach. Not just a name, but the essence of the person.

Just like Shabbos brings sholom when Noach came into the world, there was sholom, and the world was born anew.

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