December 16, 2018 ~ Shabbat VAYEHI. Maqam HIJAZ.

Shabbat Noah - שבת נח

Maqam SIGAH

In His Generation

נח איש צדיק תמים היה בדרתיו - Is Noah considered “righteous” by today’s standards? Resh Laqish and Rabbi Yohanan debate this very question in the Talmud (Tractate Sanhedrin 108a). Whereas Resh Laqish maintains Noah as righteous for all generations, Rabbi Yohanan points out that the word in Genesis 6:9, בדרתיו, “in his generation,” limits his righteousness to “his generation” alone. Various Jewish commentators, contrasting him with his descendent, Abraham, have criticized Noah for not doing more to save those around him. Instead, Noah remains completely silent throughout the narrative and “walks with God.” The general consensus to this question is that Noah’s silence and his lack of interest to positively influence those around him is not viewed favorably. When we see a problem in society, our role is to be more like Abraham and attempt to improve the situation, and not simply stand by and ignore it. Beth Torah Bulletin, October 21, 2017. 

Second Chance

וישחת הארץ לפני האלהים ותמלא הארץ חמס - Why does it say that the land was destroyed even prior to the flood? In Genesis 6, we read that society was broken, because its members were engaging in "Hamas," translated as acts of violence, lawlessness or deception. The crimes that saddened God most were the violations of social laws. In short, God loses all hope, because people did not have basic respect for one another. By bringing the flood, He was merely trying to restart a world already deemed irreversibly damaged. It wasn't until Noah, an upright and righteous person, that God decided to reconsider His original plan. The lesson that we learn from Noah's survival is that humanity only continues to exist today in order to fix the mistakes of our predecessors. Instead of living lives of Hamas, we, the descendants of Noah, should only pursue lives of Hesed; kindness (Beth Torah, 11/5/16).  

Variety of Texts

ויהי / ויהיו כל ימי נח - Contrary to misconceptions, there is no one version of the Torah. Though Maimonides says that a single missing or added letter invalidates an entire Torah scroll (Maimonides, Laws of a Torah Scroll, 10:1), there are some 105 differences between various texts of the Torah. Regarding Genesis 9:29, the Qoren Tanakh, which writes "Vayehi" (ויהי), differs from the Leningrad Codex (1008 CE), Rabbi Mordekhai Breuer, the Venice Edition of the Miqraot Gedolot, and the Samaritan Pentateuch, all whom write "Vayihiyu" (ויהיו). Torah scrolls found in our Syrian community have the word “Vayehi” (ויהי). The Minhat Shai commentary, authored by Italian rabbi, Yedidia Solomon Norzi (1560-1626), acknowledges differences between western European texts (ויהיו) and other eastern texts (ויהי). This commentator sides with the word “Vayehi” in order to be consistent with the three times it says “Vayehi Hanokh", "Vayehi Lemekh", and "Vayehi Noah". Tiqqun Highlights, Beth Torah, 10/13/18.


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