1. As we prepare for Shabbos Parshas Noach. Today is the second day of Cheshvon and before I talk about the Parsha I want to talk about the significance of Beis Cheshvon. Today is the first day at least for the Minhag of most of us in many weeks that we finally have a Heter to say Tachanun once again. That we are once again allowed to say Nefilas Apaim, that very special Tefilla that we say after Chazaras Hashatz.
I would like to encourage you to learn Tehillim Perek Vav, it is a very short Perek in Tehillim. It is all of 11 Pesukim, 10 of which are Nefilas Apaim. If you take out a Tehillim with the Teitch and learn it you will know what you are saying by Nefilas Apaim.
Let me speak out a Radak on Perek Vav Posuk Aleph. The Radak’s issue is something that you should have thought of. When you say something in Tehillim, let’s say you said (לְדָוִד: יְרוָר, אוֹרִי) and you say (שִׁבְתִּי בְּבֵית-יְרוָר, כָּל-יְמֵי חַיַּי) for example. When you say (שִׁבְתִּי בְּבֵית-יְרוָר) what are you thinking? Are you thinking about yourself (שִׁבְתִּי בְּבֵית-יְרוָר)? I wish that I should be able to sit in the house of Hashem all my life or no, that Posuk was written by Dovid. (שִׁבְתִּי בְּבֵית-יְרוָר) your Kavana is that Dovid Davened to be able to sit in the Bais Hashem all of his days. What is the proper Kavana when you say that?
As a matter of fact, when you say Nefilas Apaim and you say words like (רְפָאֵנִי יְרוָר--כִּי נִבְהֲלוּ עֲצָמָי) or you say (אַל-בְּאַפְּךָ תוֹכִיחֵנִי). What is the Kavana? Are you thinking that Dovid Davened (אַל-בְּאַפְּךָ תוֹכִיחֵנִי) Hashem don’t punish me, or are you thinking me, I (אַל-בְּאַפְּךָ תוֹכִיחֵנִי). I am talking to the Ribbono Shel Olam and am saying these words. How does one say words of Tehillim that are in the Siddur, that are in Nefilas Apaim?
The Radak in Perek Vav Posuk Aleph writes that when Dovid Hamelech said the Kapitalach of Tehillim he really said it with both Kavanos. Many of the paragraphs of Tehillim which are requests, which are prayers to HKB”H, Dovid wrote them about himself but that they should also apply to every single person who Davens. Therefore, when you say to HKB”H (אַל-בְּאַפְּךָ תוֹכִיחֵנִי) you are joining with Dovid in a Bakasha that Dovid made for himself and for you as well.
2. Let us now turn to this week’s Parsha, Parshas Noach and I would like to begin with a thought that has in it an extraordinary lesson. After the Mabul is over the Posuk tells us that Noach left the Taiva and he offered up a Korban to the Ribbono Shel Olam. 8:21 (וַיָּרַח יְרוָר, אֶת-רֵיחַ הַנִּיחֹחַ) And the Posuk says (וַיֹּאמֶר יְרוָר אֶל-לִבּוֹ לֹא-אֹסִף לְקַלֵּל עוֹד אֶת-הָאֲדָמָה בַּעֲבוּר הָאָדָם). I will no longer bring this type of punishment on Adam. Why is HKB”H deciding Kavayochel not to bring such a punishment again (כִּי) because (יֵצֶר לֵב הָאָדָם רַע מִנְּעֻרָיו) people are naturally inclined to misbehave and therefore, we have to give some special understanding to human beings. So this is a reason for Rachamim. (כִּי יֵצֶר לֵב הָאָדָם רַע מִנְּעֻרָיו).
But if you look back in 6:5 there it says (וַיַּרְא יְרוָר, כִּי רַבָּה רָעַת הָאָדָם בָּאָרֶץ). There when HKB”H is punishing it says that HKB”H saw the Ra of Adam and he decided to punish them. Why? Because he saw (וְכָל-יֵצֶר מַחְשְׁבֹת לִבּוֹ, רַק רַע כָּל-הַיּוֹם) that a human being has a nasty Yeitzer Hora that brings him bad thoughts all day. A Pele! First it says that Hashem will punish. Why? (יֵצֶר מַחְשְׁבֹת לִבּוֹ, רַק רַע). Then it says that Hashem will be Meracheim. Why? (כִּי יֵצֶר לֵב הָאָדָם רַע מִנְּעֻרָיו). The same exact thing. It is a Davar Pele. Why should it be this way that the same reason is a reason to punish and the same reason is a reason to have Rachmanus. It is a Davar Pele.
It reminds me of a similar Kasha that I asked once probably in Parshas Ki Sisa. This is because we find a similar thing that in Parshas Ki Sisa HKB”H says to Moshe Rabbeinu in Shmos 33:2 (וְשָׁלַחְתִּי לְפָנֶיךָ, מַלְאָךְ) let a Malach go before you and I am not going to go with you personally. Why? 33:3 (כִּי עַם-קְשֵׁה-עֹרֶף אַתָּה). Because you are a very stubborn people. This is the reason Hashem says I won’t go, let a Malach go in my place.
Later, when we find Moshe Rabbeinu defending Klal Yisrael, we find that Moshe Rabbeinu defends Klal Yisrael with a Taina that don’t let a Malach go with them because (עַם-קְשֵׁה-עֹרֶף). The same exact reason is given for a punishment and for a reason not to punish. Halo Davar Hu!
Let me share with you a thought from the Sefer Tomer Devora. The Tomer Devora which was written by the Ramak, Rav Moshe Cordevora (1522 – 1570) one of the great Chachmei Tzefas has in the first part a discussion of the 13 Middos of Hashem. One of those Middos is Lo Hechzik La’ad Apo, Hashem doesn’t continue to be angry forever. As the Ramak explains, this has nothing to do with people doing Teshuva. When HKB”H sees fit to punish and the punishment takes place, there is a Middah of not staying angry forever. Lo Hechzik La’ad Apo. The purpose of a punishment is for people to do Teshuva, but even if they don’t there is a time to be angry and there is a time when that passes.
We often make a mistake, we are upset at someone, we are angry at someone and we can’t let go of it. We ruin a relationship with someone who is otherwise a good friend or a relative, over an issue where we may be right. Lo Hechzik La’ad Apo. There comes a time when a person has to back down from his anger.
There is a lesson here. Agav, I forgot to mention that the Michtam Eliyahu writes that after the Shoah, after the Holocaust, HKB”H was very Meracheim on Klal Yisrael and brought us here to America and even greater to Eretz Yisrael and allowed Klal Yisrael to have a rebirth. The Michtam Eliyahu writes, there was no Teshuva as a result of the Holocaust but it was the Midda of Lo Hechzik La’ad Apo. The anger brings a punishment and then it is a time of Rachamim. That is certainly what happened with the Mabul. After the Mabul is over it is a time of Rachamim.
It is an important lesson to know. If you have a friend, an acquaintance, a relative, a spouse who has a certain Middah that is unusual. A person has an extreme Middah in one way or another. Typically speaking, the exact same Middah is a Chisaron and a Maila. Let’s say for example, you have someone who is a Type A personality, a very active personality. He runs to do, he is quick, he sometimes has Behala and he just does things. It is a Chisaron and it is a Maila. What I mean to say is, he rushes to do things and sometimes doesn’t think it through properly and makes mistakes. On the other hand, he is quick to do things and in doing so he accomplishes.
The Middah of Zerizus of doing things successfully and quickly and Behala, doing things too quickly to a point that it brings confusion, those two Middos are outgrowths of the same type of a personality. When you look at such a person, on the one hand you get frustrated by his failures and on the other hand you are interested in his abilities.
When you look at a person, you can look at exactly the same Middah and you can look at it with Middas Hadin, or you can look at it with Middas Harachamim. You can see in him his failures and you can see in him his accomplishments. The same exact Middah.
The Ribbono Shel Olam Kavayochel decided that the Middah of (יֵצֶר לֵב הָאָדָם רַע) came to a point where it deserved for a Mabul to be brought upon the world for the good of the world. That is what the world needed. (וְכָל-יֵצֶר מַחְשְׁבֹת לִבּוֹ, רַק רַע כָּל-הַיּוֹם). On the other hand, after the Mabul when it was a time of Rachamim, HKB”H said look at that Middah, the (יֵצֶר לֵב הָאָדָם רַע מִנְּעֻרָיו) and still he can bring a Korban for Raich Nichoach. He may have failures but he also has accomplishments and those accomplishments are because he overcomes that (יֵצֶר לֵב הָאָדָם רַע).
You can look at a person in two ways. It is an important lesson. There may be a time when something upsets you, when it is a time to discipline. Or it is a time to be Marchik, to distance yourself from someone because of a certain Middah. But when that passes, look at that Middah and try to see the good in it, see the positive in it. The same exact Middah can have a side that is positive and a side that is negative. Human beings like to see things black or white, we don’t like gray. We like things to be cut and dry. It should be clear this way or that way. Most things in life are not so clear. It is a lesson in HKB”H being Mefuyas, HKB”H reaccepting of humanity after the Mabul, of Klal Yisrael after the Holocaust, to try to see the good in the people around you.
3. And so, I am urging you to do well in Tachanun, to learn from this week’s Parsha good Hanhagos in people and let me end with a Dvar Halacha.
There are Sheva Mitzvos Bnei Noach. We all know that there are Sheva Mitzvos Bnei Noach, actually six Mitzvos were given to Adam Harishon and the 7th which is Aiver Min Hachai is added in this week’s Parsha. Yet it is called Bnei Noach. Why Sheva Mitzvos Bnei Noach? The usual answer in different forms is that it is not that Mitzvah that Adam was given. Adam was given it in one form and after Noach it took on a new form. So the different Terutzim have the different ways of saying this. But in the Mitzvos Bnei Noach there was an elaboration on all Sheva Mitzvos Bnei Noach. It was expanded.
The Rambam in Sefer Shoftim, Hilchos Melachim Perek 9 Halacha 2 writes a Chiddush that the Bnei Noach are not allowed to make statues for beauty. The Rambam means that that Issur that all Yidden have in making statues B’derech Klal (Shemos 20:19) (לֹא תַעֲשׂוּן, אִתִּי) that applies to Bnei Noach too because that is an expansion of the Issur of Avodah Zora.
A Jew is allowed to make a statue of a sheep or a goat, we are not allowed to make statues of a human being or of any heavenly body, or any way in which HKB”H appears as a Navi in a dream. There are limitations on which statues we could make.
The Rambam in Hilchos Melachim says a Chiddush that it applies to Bnei Noach as well. (וכל ע"ז שבית דין של ישראל ממיתין עליה בן נח נהרג עליה) What is the source? From where did the Rambam get this? That the Bnei Noach had this expansion of the Issur of Avodah Zorah. There is an incredible Pnei Yehoshua at the end of the second Perek of Rosh Hashana and he says that when Klal Yisrael came at the time of the sin of the Eigel to Aharon, they asked for a statue of a human being as is found in Shemos 32:1 (כִּי-זֶה מֹשֶׁה הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר הֶעֱלָנוּ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם, לֹא יָדַעְנוּ מֶה-הָיָה לוֹ). Make us a statue of a person. Aharon instead made an Eigel because a statue of a human being you are not allowed to make. A statue of an Eigel that is something else.
The Chemdas Yisrael which is the Kli Chemda’s Sefer on Sefer Hamitzvos writes that is a Mekor for the Rambam. Because at the time Moshe Rabbeinu had not yet brought down the Torah, the Chiyuvim were still the Sheva Mitzvos Bnei Noach and the statue of an Ish was Assur at that time. That is the Rambam.
I have a question. I don’t know where there is a section in the Shulchan Aruch for Mitzvos Bnei Noach. In my Shulchan Aruch there is no section for Sheva Mitzvos Bnei Noach. The Sugya is in Sanhedrin (56a on the bottom). The Rambam in Hilchos Melachim brings the Sheva Mitzvos Bnei Noach. Indeed it is a Chiddush that he says that you are not allowed to make a statue but it is a Rambam and I don’t know who argues.
In Igros Moshe, Yore Dai’a Teshuva Bais, Siman Nun Daled, there is a fascinating Teshuvah about making a statue. It seems that after the Kennedy assassination, the community is McKeesport, Pennsylvania got together to make a statue of Kennedy. The Rav there, Rav Chin asked Rav Moshe whether they could contribute to making such a statue. After all, a Jew is not allowed to make a statue of a person. Rav Moshe in his Teshuva Paskened that they are permitted, but that they should have in mind not to own the statue and they could contribute to the non-Jews making it.
In the Teshuva, Rav Moshe seems to assume that non-Jews are not Metzuva in the Issur of making a statue. Tzorech Iyun as according to the Rambam they are. Apparently Rav Moshe understood not to Pasken like the Rambam but I wonder what the Mekor is.
I want to thank everybody for joining us here today. I wish everybody an absolutely wonderful Mishmar night tonight followed by an absolutely wonderful Shabbos. May we all be Zoche this Parshas Noach to renew our Bris with the Ribbono Shel Olam and go forward to a wonderful year of 5777. Good Shabbos to all!