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Zera Shimshon on Parshas Noach

אֵ֚לֶּה תּוֹלְדֹ֣ת נֹ֔חַ נֹ֗חַ אִ֥ישׁ צַדִּ֛יק תָּמִ֥ים הָיָ֖ה בְּדֹֽרֹתָ֑יו אֶת־האלוקים הִֽתְהַלֶּךְ־נֹֽחַ׃ וַיּ֥וֹלֶד נֹ֖חַ שְׁלֹשָׁ֣ה בָנִ֑ים אֶת־שֵׁ֖ם אֶת־חָ֥ם וְאֶת־יָֽפֶת׃

(בראשית ו/ח-י)

These are the generations of Noah. In his time Noach was a righteous man; and was without blemish; Noach walked with Hashem. Noach fathered three sons: Shem, Cham and Yeffes. (Bereishis 6/8-10)

Zera Shimshon asks, since Noach’s sons were also saved from the flood, why is it written at the end of last week’s parsha, “and Noach found favor in the eyes of Hashem,” and not “and Noach and his sons found favor in the eyes of Hashem”?

Zera Shimshon asks another question in the name of the Yeffeh Toar. The Midrash explains that whenever a pasuk begins with the word “these…. aileh” as opposed to, “and these, or “v’aileh,” it comes to separate and exclude what is mentioned from what had been previously mentioned. The Midrash concludes that this is the reason that it is written here aileh toldos Noach, “These are the generations of Noach ….” is to exclude the people in his generation.

The Yeffeh Toar asks: From the way the Chumash describes Noach’s generation and Noach it is very obvious that Noach was very different from them. Why, then, did the pasuk have to write, “These….” to teach us that the rest of the people in his generation were not righteous like Noach and his children? Why would you think that they were the same?

To answer these two questions, Zera Shimshon begins by answering the first question, why isn’t it written that Noach and HIS SONS found favor in the eyes of Hashem, since Hashem also saved them? He answers in light of Rashi who explains that at the time of the mabul only people 100 years and older were held responsible for their actions. People who were less than 100 years old were considered like children who, since their intellect is not yet fully developed, are considered as having no role in what they do and therefore are not held responsible for their bad actions and not rewarded when they do something good.

Therefore, it could not be written that Noach’s children also found favor in the eyes of Hashem because their actions are really not connected to them. Therefore, if they were good people like their father, Noach, there was no reason for them to find favor in the eyes of Hashem.

However, according to this, another question arises. It is written later on in the parsha (7:21) that during the mabul, Hashem killed every person except for Noach, his children and their wives. Zera Shimshon asks, why is this? Why wasn’t everyone younger than 100 years old saved, just like Noach’s children, since they were not considered responsible for their actions?

Zera Shimshon answers that even though no one under the age of 100 had any merits, Noach’s children were saved in the merit of Noach. The other people under 100 years old, even though they didn’t deserve to be punished for anything bad they did, they also didn’t have any merits and they therefore died because of the misdeeds of the generations. Only the children of Noach were saved because of the merits of their father.

We can now understand the reason the Torah wrote “Aileh toldos Noach, These are the offsprings of Noach,” to exclude the others in his generation. It is not coming to teach us that only Noach was righteous in his generation and no one else. This is obvious. Rather it is coming to differentiate between Noach’s children and the other people less than a 100 years old. Even though they both had no merits to be saved and misdeeds to be punished and it would seem that they should both bear the same consequences, Noach’s children were saved in Noach’s merits and the others were punished because of the generation’s wrongs.

Zera Shimshon gives another explanation why Noach’s children were saved and everyone else’s were destroyed. His children were not saved in the merit of Noach. The merit of Noach’s righteousness was enough only to save himself. The reason why only Noach’s children were saved was that they were raised in the house of Noach and received very good chinuch to such a degree that it was apparent in their behavior that when they would grow up and be responsible for what they do they will continue in the path of their father. In other words, they were not saved in their own merit, since they were considered children and didn’t have any, rather they were saved because of the way they would be in the future. On the other hand, the other “pre-100-ers” who didn’t receive a good chinuch in their houses, were destroyed with the rest of the generation since they had no future merits to save them.

 

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