Friday, October 08, 2010
Noach 5632 First Ma'amar
"אֵלֶּה תּוֹלְדֹת נֹחַ נֹחַ אִישׁ צַדִּיק ... /These are the offspring of Noach, Noach was a righteous man …" (Breishis 6:9) We would expect "These are the offspring" to be followed by a list of the offspring. Here, it is followed by a description of Noach's righteousness. The Midrash, quoted by Rashi on this pasuk, addresses this and explains that the primary "offspring" of the righteous are their good deeds. This, too, needs an explanation. Why are the good deeds of the righteous called their "offspring"?
To answer this question we must first gain a deeper understanding of good deeds and how they affect the world. Each morning we say, "הַמְחַדֵּשׁ בְּטוּבוֹ בְּכָל יּוֹם תָּמִיד מַעֲשֵׂה בְרֵאשִׁית/In His goodness, He renews each and every day the workings of the Creation." The Chiddushei HaRim (in the name of the Rav of P'shischa) explains that the word "בְּטוּבוֹ/in His goodness", is a reference to the Torah which is called "good" as Chazal learn from the pasuk, "כִּי לֶקַח טוֹב נָתַתִּי לָכֶם .../For I have given you a good teaching …" (Mishlei 4:2) Accordingly, we can translate the morning prayer as, "With His Torah, He renews each and every day the workings of Creation."
What is the connection between the Creation and the Torah? The Zohar teaches that God created the world with the Torah. The Sfas Emes explains that when God said the ten utterances of the first chapter of Breishis, the spiritual power of those words effected the Creation. Furthermore, it is that spiritual power that continues to permeate the Creation and keep it in existence. So, with His goodness – the spiritual power of the Torah – God continuously renews the Creation.
Chazal teach us that the righteous sustain the world that was created with the ten utterances." How do they do this? Just as the physical world exists because it has spiritual underpinnings, our physical actions as well are only possible because of the spiritual power that underlies them. When a tzadik acts, his intent is totally on the spiritual component of his action, the source of which is the same ten utterances Breishis that keep the world in existence. His intent is to reveal the spiritual inherent in his physical actions. This is why his actions are called "good". Their source is the spiritual power of the Torah.
When the tzadik reveals the spiritual through his "good" deeds, he influences the world around him so that the wonders of God can be recognized in it. This is the meaning of the pasuk, "מָה רַב־טוּבְךָ אֲשֶׁר־צָפַנְתָּ לִּירֵאֶיךָ .../ How great is Your goodness that You have laid away for those who fear You." (Tehillim 31:20) Through the tzadik's actions, a revelation of God's "goodness", the spiritual power that underlies everything including our actions expands to include the tzadik's surroundings.
Revealing the Godliness that is inherent in the physical world around us affects the physical world in a very positive way, releasing shefa/abundance and renewal into the world. The righteous actually strengthen the spiritual that is the source of abundance. This is what Chazal are referring to when they say that the "offspring" of the righteous are his good deeds. It is the renewal and abundance, the positive affect the tzadik's good deeds have on the world that are his offspring.
Chazal teach us that the wicked destroy the world that was created with the ten utterances. As opposed to the righteous, their deeds weaken the spiritual that is the source of existence. For the ten generations between Adam and Noach, this ability to reveal the spiritual source of the physical world was all but forgotten. The spiritual was weakened to the point at which the world could not continue to exist. It was exactly at this point that God said, "... קֵץ כָּל־בָּשָׂר בָּא לְפָנַי .../… The end of all flesh has come before Me …" (Breishis 6:13) The spiritual power that underlies the Creation was no longer powerful enough to sustain life.
Noach the righteous was able to return the life-force and renew the world. It is this entire new world, then, that is his offspring.