"These are the generations of Noah, Noah..." (Gen. 6:9)

The Midrash Rabba comments on this doubling, " Satisfaction [in Hebrew, 'Niyacha', from the root word of 'noach') to him, satisfaction for everyone; satisfaction for the fathers, satisfaction for the children; satisfaction for the higher worlds, satisfaction for the lower worlds; satisfaction for this world, satisfaction for the world to come." The Rebbe Rayatz wrote that the "generations", the sum-total-history of mankind, the purpose of his creation and the descent of his soul into this world, was for one purpose only: Noach, i.e. to give satisfaction to the Creator through the effort we infuse into redeeming the exiled fallen sparks of holiness enclothed in the physical things of our daily lives. And where the word "Noach" is doubled the degree of satisfaction, too, is doubled.

Through one's efforts a person draws additional light into the higher worlds…

There is satisfaction for the individual, i.e. one's soul is elevated; there is satisfaction for the world, i.e. the world is improved; there is satisfaction for the fathers, i.e. the child gives merit to his parents; there is satisfaction for the children, i.e. the merit of the fathers in turn gives strength to their offspring; there is satisfaction in the higher worlds, meaning that through one's efforts a person draws additional light into the higher worlds; there is satisfaction to the lower worlds, meaning that the lower worlds are also transformed through the individual; there is satisfaction in This World, meaning that this world becomes readied for G‑d's presence; there is also satisfaction for the World to Come, because the main reward for our efforts will be with the arrival of Mashiach and with all of the attending revelations that will be revealed in the future to come.

But we must remember:all of those revelations are completely dependent on our effort now.

Our words should always shine…

Rebbe Michil of Zlotchov says that the verse, "A window [in Hebrew, "tzohar"] should you make for the ark" (Gen. 6:16) teaches us about our speech. The word "tzohar" can also be translated as "shine". The word for "ark" (in Hebrew, "teiva") can also be translated as "word". Read it like this: "our words should always shine". In this post-holiday week, let every word of speech, prayer and Torah study shine.

The verse, "And they [Shem and Japeth] went backwards...., and their faces were backwards and their father's nakedness they did not see" (Gen 9:23) warns us to guard our power of sight. But there is a much deeper teaching here:

After the verse says that they faced away, we already know that they could not see their father. Why did the verse have to repeat itself? What new idea is this verse trying to convey? The Baal Shem Tov taught that when we see a bad trait in someone, this is an indication that we have this same negative trait in ourselves; the other is only a mirror. But why is this? Why could it not be that the trait only exists in them and not in us? The Lubavitcher Rebbe answers that every thing or event in the world is by divine providence and with a positive purpose, so that even seeing something negative in someone else was caused by heaven for a reason. This is in order to teach us something about ourselves so that we can fix it.

Seeing something in another, however, causes us to look honestly into ourselves…

But why does it have to be so complicated? Why could not G‑d have shown us directly instead of through another? Because our self-love disguises our faults. Seeing something in another, however, causes us to look honestly into ourselves.

Perhaps we are also supposed to help the other to fix themselves? If you love them and see the fault only as something that needs fixing, then this indicates that the purpose is to help them. But if you discover even in the smallest measure that your seeing causes you to judge them negatively, that you see them as evil, then the fault that needs to be fixed is in ourselves. Ham was a lewd person and therefore saw his father's nakedness as a fault. Shem and Japeth, however, were totally righteous; they only needed to see what they needed to fix. By being consistent about examining our own reactions in relation to what we see in others, we can learn a lot about ourselves.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

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