Parshas Noach – Rosh Chodesh – 1 MarCheshvan 5771
Bostoner Rebbe shlit"a - Yerushalayim
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A common feature of the first two Torah readings describes the generations that preceded Avrohom Aveinu. Parshas Bereishis records the generations from Adam until Noach, while Parshas Noach lists the generations from Noach until Avrohom. Certainly, the ancestry of Noach and Avrohom are noteworthy, but what is the significance of recording the number of years between each generation?
Pirkei Ovos 5:2 explains that there were ten generations between Adam and Noach in order to demonstrate Hashem's characteristic of patience, waiting for each generation to repent. The following Mishnah brings the same rationale for the ten generations between Noach and Avrohom. What additional lesson emanates from the latter generations that was not understood by the former generations?
Perhaps the kindness of Hashem is not only his patience in regard to the length of 'time', but also with respect to each generation of 'people'. After displaying centuries of tolerance towards the first generations, Hashem could have punished the later generations immediately, claiming they should have learned from the calamity that befell the first generations. Instead, Hashem renews his patience with each successive set of generations, extending to them the same courtesy as their ancestors.
One difference between the generations listed in Bereishis and those enumerated in Noach is the presentation of the chronology. From Adam until Noach, each generation contains a third concluding Posuk, which calculates the years of their life presented in the previous two P'sukim and states their age at death. However, the generations from Noach until Avrohom have only two P'sukim each: the first Posuk states the age at which they became a father; the second states the years they lived after becoming a parent. Each generation concludes with the 'continuity of life' and no direct mention of death.
The Bostoner Rebbe zt"l explained that the reason the generations in Parshas Noach conclude in a positive fashion, without recording the age of death, is because the successive generation internalized the teachings of their parents and perpetuated the legacy of their parents and grandparents even after death. However, in the generations between Adam and Noach, the children deviated from the ways of their parents after they departed.
The exception was Noach, who clung to his grandfather, the righteous Mesushelach, who in turn had received his Mesorah [tradition] directly from Adam HaRishon. The only hope for the continuity of a living, thriving Klal Yisroel is for each successive generation to be an honorable link in the chain. To faithfully internalize and transmit the Torah and Middos [character traits] of the previous generation to the subsequent generation.
Perhaps this was why the punishment of the Dor HaMabul [Generation of the Great Flood] was much harsher than the Dor HaFlogoh [Generation of the Great Dispersion]. The generations before Noach had to be annihilated completely, whereas the generations after Noach were allowed to live, but were exiled and dispersed throughout the world.
In subsequent weeks throughout Sefer Bereishis, we will study how the Ovos and Imahos continued this trend of spiritual elevation from previous generations by refining themselves through the separation of evil from within their midst. Avrohom first separated himself from his land, birthplace and family in Parshas Lech Lecha. Avrohom and Sorah then separated Yitzchok from the negative influence of Yishmoel, while Yitzchok and Rivka separated Yaakov from the evil Esav.
Maseh Avos Siman L'Bonim. The actions of the Fathers (and Mothers) are an omen for their Sons (and Daughters). May we continue to internalize and transmit Torah, Avodah and Maasim Tovim to our children, while filtering out the negative impurities that have seeped their way into Klal Yisroel, with the ultimate goal of cleansing mankind to its pristine form and meriting the coming of the Geulah Shlayma speedily in our days
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