Membership form | Contact Us

Parshas Noach 5775: Acts of Charity are the Justification for the Creation of Mankind and of Our Continued Survival

The generation of the mabul, the great flood, were guilty of a number of improprieties such as idolatry and engaging in immoral behavior and thievery. The pasuk says “Keitz kol basar ba lefanei ki male’ah ha’aretz chamas mi’peneihem ve’hinnini mashchisam es ha’aretz” – the end of all men has come because violence (chamas) has become rampant, and behold, I will destroy the earth [1]. Chazal [2] explain that the word chamas indicates gezel, robbery. Rashi on this pasuk goes even further and notes that although the people of Noach’s generation bore the guilt of many transgressions, their fate was sealed because of the sin of stealing.
This seems very puzzling. Why would stealing be the reason to destroy the world and not idolatry and immoral behaviors? After all, idolatry and immortality are two of the three Mitzvohs for which one must be willing to give his life rather than commit!
During creation, before creating man, Hashem spoke to the melachim saying: “naaseh adam b’tzalmeinu – Let us make man in My form” [3]. The melachim (angels) asked, who is this creature, man? Hashem then showed them what man looks like. The melachim then inquired “Mah enosh ki sizkarenu” – Who is this man that You should consider him, and the son of a mortal that You should be mindful of him [4]”, What benefit can man be to creation that is cannot be provided by angels in a far superior fashion? Hashem disregarded the complaints of the angels and nonetheless created man.
On the pasuk in our parsha where Hashem said “Vaani hinini meivi es hamabul mayim al haaretz, lishacheis kol basar asher bo ruach chayim, mitachas hashamyim, kol asher baaretz yigva” – “And behold, I now shall bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is in the earth shall perish [5]. Rashi brings the Medrash [6] that interprets: “Va’ani Hineni” – “And Behold ” to mean, I now agree with the words of the angels who said, ” Who is man that You should consider remembering him?”
The great Rebbe R’ Moshe-Leib of Sassov [7] homiletically explains the pasuk [8], “Even Ma’asu Habonim, Haysa Lirosh Pina” – The stone despised by the builders, shall be the chief cornerstone”. “Eh-ven” is the acronym for the pasuk “Naaseh Adam Be-tzalmeinu” meaning to allude to fact that the declaration by Hashem of “Na-aseh Odom” which had been despised by the builders , meaning the angels, nevertheless “Haysa Li-rosh” , man was justified and became the main point of creation-“Pina”; – the cornerstone.
Further, by implementing “Drush” -homiletics- one can see that the word “Pina” is spelled used the Hebrew letters Peh, Nun, and Heh which is the acronym for three pesukim alluding to tzedaka, the giving of charity: “Poseach tiftach es yodecho” Surely you shall open your hand to him [9]; “Nosson titein loi” -Surely you give to him [10]; “Ha-anayk ta-a-nik loi” -Surely you shall provide him from your flock, from your threshing floor….etc.,–[11]. The meaning of this is that man reaches the Pinah – the pinnacle of creation- through the acts of charity connoted by the three letters that comprise the word Pinah. It also implies that Hashem is “kaviyachol”, as if to say, justified in His creation of mankind because of the charity that man does. Man fulfills creation in a way that angels cannot because man can give of himself to others in need unlike malachim (heavenly angels) who can never be in need themselves nor can they give of themselves freely.
It can now be understood how the sin of stealing should bring about the total annihilation of the world, for the act of taking from others for oneself is the polar opposite of charity, the giving of oneself to others. If charity is the justification for the creation of mankind then it stands to reason that stealing should bring about its destruction.
The Medrash [12] says that Noach’s providing for and taking care of all living creatures in the Teivah, the ark, is one of the merits that enabled him to be able to survive the flood. These charitable acts were the means by which Noach and all of his future generations merited their miraculous rescue, As it is written, “vetzadaka tatzil mimaves” – Charity does indeed save one from mortal danger (Mishlei 11:4).

[1] Bereishis 6:13
[2] Tractate Sanhedrin 108A
[3] Bereishis 1:26
[4] Tehillim 8:5
[5] Bereishis 6:17
[6] Bereishis Rabbah 31:15
[7] 1745-1807 was the leading disciple of Reb Shmelke of Nickelsburg. He also received approbation from the Maggid of Mezritch and from Elimelech of Lyzhinsk. He was most famous primarily for his love of his fellow Jews. His teachings are contained in the books, Likutei RaMal, Toras ReMaL Hashalem, and Chidushei RaMal.
[8] Tehillim 118:23
[9] Devarim 15:11
[10] Devarim 15:10
[11] Devarim 15:14
[12] see Medrash Tanchuma Noach:2, also see Medrash Tehillim 37