The Living Torah is a weekly publication distributed in and around North West London. Written by members of Hasmonean High School's Sixth Form programme - we aim to bring you divrei torah for your Shabbat table each and everyweek.

This weeks PDF Version

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Stand By Your Word

"וַּיאֹּמֶּר יְהוָּה לְנח באֹּ אַּתָּה וְכָּל בֵּיתְךָ אֶּל הַּתֵּבָּה: כִּי - אתְֹּךָ רָּאִּיתִּי צַּדִּיק לְפָּנַּי בַּדוֹר הַּזֶּה"

And Hashem said to Noach: Come, you and your entire household, into the ark, for I have seen you to be a righteous man before Me in this generation.

The Mishna in Bava Metzia [44a] says that a person who goes back on a transaction after the money was given but before the kinyan takes effect is cursed with the following words: ''He who punished the men of the generation of the flood and the men of the generation of the dispersal, will punish whomever does not stand by his word''.

The obvious question is what the connection is between the sins of those wicked generations and the sin of not standing by one's word?

The Divrei Yoel zt''l explains as follows: There is a Midrash Tanchuma in Re'eh that says many people in the time of Noach were as good as Noach, but were wiped out in the flood. Why was Noach chosen to be saved? The Gemara in Sanhedrin 108a says that Noach tried to rebuke the wicked people in his time. But in another place [Midrash Rab-bah 29:1] the commentaries on the Midrash say that Noach did not rebuke the people. We seem to have a contradiction. The Divrei Yoel explains that Noach tried for many years to rebuke them, but then saw that the other Tzadikim were keeping quiet. Noach decided to follow the majority and keep quiet as well. This is the reason why, at the beginning of the Parasha, Noach is called ''a righteous man in his generation''- i.e. he re-buked the people for many generations, whereas later Hashem calls him ''a righteous man before Me in his generation''- i.e. during that last generation prior to the flood, he was only righteous in private, before Hashem, but in public he kept quiet. Since his intentions in following the majority were good, he was saved, but others who were wrong for holding back their rebuke were punished along with the wicked people in the flood.

When a righteous person holds himself back from telling the truth to others in his genera-tion who are mistaken, he is forced at many times to contradict himself - to say words that contradict his actions, or to answer questions in a forced way in order to keep himself from saying certain things. This is called ''not standing by his word''. Thus, one who does not keep his word is cursed like the ''men''- i.e. the righteous people of the generation of the flood, who were punished for not rebuking the wicked of their time.

Written by Yisroel Leib Amdurer.

No comments:

Post a Comment