Parshat Noach (Genesis 6:9-11:32)

The story of one righteous man in an evil generation. The Almighty commands Noah to build the ark on a hill far from the water. He built it over a period of 120 years. People deride Noah and ask him, “Why are you building a boat on a hill?” Noah explains that there will be a flood if people do not correct their ways. We see from this the patience of the Almighty for people to correct their ways and the genius of arousing people’s curiosity so that they will ask a question and, hopefully, hear the answer.

The generation does not do Teshuva, returning from their evil ways, and God brings a flood for 40 days. They leave the ark 365 days later when the earth has once again become habitable. The Almighty makes a covenant and makes the rainbow the sign of the covenant that He will never destroy all of life again by water (hence, James Baldwin’s book, The Fire Next Time). When one sees a rainbow it is an omen to do Teshuva — to recognize the mistakes you are making in life, regret them, correct them/make restitution, and ask for forgiveness from anyone you have wronged as well as from the Almighty.

Noah plants a vineyard, gets drunk and then occurs the mysterious incident in the tent after which Noah curses his grandson Canaan. The Torah portion concludes with the story of the Tower of Babel and then a genealogy from Noah’s son, Shem, to Abram (Abraham).

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Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

“And Noah, man of the earth, profaned himself and planted a vineyard” (Genesis 9:20). Previously the Torah called Noah “a righteous man.”

What happened?

Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz comments that by planting the vineyard first, Noah revealed his essence. He should have planted more essential produce first. His choice of priorities lowered his previous spiritual level.

Whenever you have a number of things to choose from, note what you choose first. This is a powerful tool to gain greater self-awareness. Regardless of your present level, strive to build up such a love for doing good that it will be first on your list of things to do!

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