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The Name of the Parsha

Our Parsha begins, “These are the offspring of Noach, Noach was…”

The Midrash asks: “Why Noach’s name written twice, when once would have sufficed?”

“Because,” answers the Midrash, “Noach (נח) (can be translated as) ‘serenity” (נייחא). Noach, brought serenity for himself, and serenity for the world; serenity for his ancestors (who could rest in peace in their graves) and serenity for his children; serenity in the upper worlds (since the heavenly prosecutions against mankind stopped) and serenity in the lower worlds; serenity in this world and serenity in the next world” (Bereishis Rabah 30:5 and Rashi ibid.).

The serenity was achieved by the floodwaters, referred to by the Torah as “the waters of Noach” (Isaiah 54:9). Chasidic thought explains that, before the flood, physical matter was brittle and insensitive to anything spiritual. In such an atmosphere corruption flourished, as people felt little accountability to their actions.

Chasidus teaches that the waters of the flood were like a mikvah (ritual bath). A person who immerses in a.mikveh might notice that his thoughts are slightly purer that day, or that his conscience agitates him a little more. So too, the global mikveh which occurred in Noach’s generation had a purifying effect on the physical world, bringing soul and body to a heightened level of communication.

After the flood, the world and its inhabitants now had a conscience and a greater appreciation of G-d. And this ensured that the world would have a genuine “serenity” – a continued existence. For, even if people became corrupt, their newfound spiritual sensitivity would ensure that they would have the motivation to repent. Thus, it would always be worthwhile for G-d to continue sustaining His world.

(Based on Sichas Shabbos Parshas Noach 5751)

 

 


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