Ethical Relativity: Admire people not by how much they have, but by how much they have created (Noach, 5775)

by in Midrash Series 5775, Noach .

© Rabbi David Lapin, 2014 What the Midrash Means Series - 1:2 Noach was a righteous man in his times, but, says Rabbi Yehudah, had he lived in the times of (ethical and spiritual giants like) Moshe and Shemuel he would not have been considered righteous at all. Rabbi Nechemia says: If he was considered a righteous man in his times, how much more righteous would he have been considered in the times of Moshe or Shmuel. – Bereishit Rabbah 30:9 Environment unquestionably contributes to a person’s stature or lack thereof. This principle is acknowledged explicitly in Chazzal[1] many tim..

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Parshat Noach 5768: The Shawl and the Tallit

by in Noach .

This, the second in the series of essays on relationships, focuses not on man-woman relationships, but on the deep and unique relationship between a father and son. We will see how differently three men view fatherhood, how that was affected by their world views, and specifically the way they each experience beauty. Three World Views Noach's three sons' different world-views affected their views of fatherhood too.[1] We see those different views play out in the scene of Noach's degrading fit of drunkenness. Cham mocks his father, harasses him and abuses him. Shem and Yeffet cover ..

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Parshat Noach 5768: Noble Noach and Nobel Al

by in Noach .

Noble Noach and Nobel Al Bereishit 6:9 To change yourself, judge before you love. To change others, love before you judge!   Environmentalism and Morality He was concerned about the future of the planet. He foresaw ever-worsening climatic conditions that could result in an environmental catastrophe capable of eliminating all life on earth. He tirelessly warned people, he pleaded with people. His name was Noach. He was not heard, nor was he awarded a Nobel Prize. Noach and Al Gore are both communicators of inconvenient truths. Why was the one mocked while the other rece..

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Noach 5773: The Loss of a Great Unorthodox Leader

by in Noach .

Both Avraham and Noach were pious giants. Both were monotheistic prophets who communicated directly with God. Why is Avraham considered the first Jew, and Noach a gentile? One early winter's evening in 1968 at a Yeshiva on a settlement in rural Israel, I participated as a guest in a shiur that set the wheels of my mind working at a speed and direction that hasn't slowed or changed since then. I recall the Rav who was teaching - someone who generally encouraged his students to expand their general knowledge - warning them never to read the works of Ayn Rand, which he said were destructive ..

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Noach 5772: Rewiring Our Instinct

by in Noach .

In my Yom Kippur Article I wrote about the two operating systems that govern us: the heroic operating system and thedefensive, instinctual one. It goes without saying that we can master our heroic system. We can dominate our instinctual system, ouryeitzer harah, with our heroic system, our yeitzer hatov. Lead By Greatness (now due out by Mid-November IY"H) will provide methodology to do this. But can we also improve our instinctual systems? Can we so to say, rewire our instinct and elevate it? The Rambam says we can and this week's pa..

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Parshat Noach 5767: In the Ashes of Ruin Lie the Seeds of Joy

by in Noach .

Bereishit 8:21 Sefer Yetzirah 5:9 Bereishit Rabbah 34:9 The Divine Aroma of the Barbeque In Parshat Noach we encounter the first reference to a sacrifice as having an aroma that is pleasing to G-d. This idea will be repeated many times in the Torah, but never looses its strangeness. What pleasure does G-d find in the barbeque aroma of a ritualistic sacrifice? In this case of the first sacrifice brought after the flood, the Midrash[1] says that G-d “smelled” in Noach’s sacrifices the aromas ofAvraham and of Chanania, Misha’el and Azaria&n..

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