Torah Study

Torah Portion (Parasha) of the Week - Noach

By Rabbi Chaim Coffman

Parshas Noach: Robbery is the final seal of man's destruction?

"The earth also was corrupt before G-d and the earth was filled with violence" (Genesis 6:11)

G-d decides to destroy the world and we see from this verse that the reason is because the earth is filled with violence. Many of the commentaries tell us that this was the final nail in the coffin for mankind so to speak but they also transgressed more severe things like immorality and idolatry so why is the final decree because of violence or robbery in this case? Robbery is not even one of the big three sins that a Jew has to give up there life for under any circumstances?

There is a major difference why there are secular laws and Torah laws. Secular laws keep society running (even though it seems that society is crazy even with them!) smoothly and functioning where as Torah laws are there to help us reach our true potential and become great people! What a major difference between the two.

G-d foresaw that because people stole from one another in such great proportions society would not be able to function. Although it is not one of the mitzvos we would have to give up our lives for, nonetheless when these laws break down or people take other people's property without any repercussions, then the morals and ability to live will not be possible.

G-d understood very well the nature of man and knew that this would happen but he created man anyway knowing their failures! There will be some that will make the right decisions and become truly righteous people and this is what G-d's intention was but the way the world was at this time, He had no choice but to destroy man.

What happened after the flood? Did all mankind become righteous after that? Obviously not but G-d understood that He had to leave man alone by promising that He would never wipe them out again! This is not so simple because G-d knows the future, past and present so He foresaw this.

Even though at the end of Parshas Bereishis it seems that G-d has regret for creating man, this in and of itself is a tough philosophical question to grapple with because if G-d is omnipotent and omniscient then He seemingly cannot have regret now can He? This means that G-d saw the future and even though man would ultimately sin and do the wrong thing, He still hoped they would utilize the good and become the great people they can.

Rashi explains this with the following story: a non-Jew asks one of the rabbis about this verse and wonders if G-d knows the future how can it be that He is sad at having created man? The rabbi answers did you ever have a son born to you? The non-Jew answered yes. The rabbi retorted, "when he was born what did you do?" The non-Jew answered that he made a great party. The rabbi responded, "But don't you know that this child eventually will die?"

The non-Jew replied even though that is true, I am happy when he was born and will celebrate that and if G-d forbid he dies in my lifetime, I will be sad but the two thoughts are not diametrically opposed. This is what the verse means at the end of parshas bereishis.

Since G-d knows the thoughts and actions of man He can still be sad if they choose to make the wrong decisions but He gives them freewill to do so! In our verse G-d saw that if He would let things go as they were society would destroy itself. Better I G-d destroy them before they do it to themselves!

As for the future G-d will allow man to do what he wants but will intervene in history when He feels it is necessary. Even if we do things to ourselves, He will sit back so to speak and let things go even though He is orchestrating everything from behind the scenes.

In these troubling times we have to understand there is a divine plan, we are just not privy to what that is. As my rebbe said to me many times, if you are happy with the way G-d runs the world 95% of the time, the other 5% you won't understand in 20 lifetimes. You still need to learn and focus on doing what you need to do and let G-d does what He needs to do. A lesson that should not be forgotten!

                                                                                                                         Rabbi Chaim Coffman