Divrei Torah

The Divrei Torah in this section have been translated by Rav Reuven Ungar, Director of Alumni Affairs

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Meshech Chochma on Education

By: Rav Reuven Ungar

Insights into the parsha, from Rav Meir Simcha HaKohen, Rav of Dvinsk and author of the Ohr Sameach on the Rambam. Translated and elaborated upon by Rav Reuven Ungar.

"And to their families, they exited from the ark" (Bereshit ). In Masechet Sanhedrin (108b), Chazal record the view of Rabi Yochanan, who comments that they left to their families but not to themselves (lemishpechotayham yatza'u, velo hem). What concept is Rabi Yochanan conveying to us?

The survival of inhabitants of the ark was supernatural. Only the special providence of Hashem enabled the family of Noach and the animals to endure the destructive environment of the flood. Indeed, the verse "And G-d remembered Noach and the beasts and the animals in the ark" (8:1) indicates the unique Divine protection necessary to endure such a climate. Chazal mention that the remembrance refers to the feeding of the animals for the duration of the yearlong stay in the ark (Bereshit Raba, 33:4).

This begs the question: why didn't Hashem see if fit to annihilate the inhabitants of the world in a split second?! If supernatural modes of conduct will be employed, why extend this state of affairs to a full year? The difficult maintenance of the animal kingdom on the ark could have been avoided. What purpose did the 12 month stay on the ark accomplish?

The animal kingdom had sunk to a stage of total self-corruption (Hishchit kol basar et darko al ha'aretz). The nature of the animals desired to perpetrate evil. All previous norms of conduct had been violated and discarded.

This presented an educational challenge. The animals had to embark on a process of re-education. This was to be accomplished by a strict regimen of abstinence from intimate relations, adapting themselves to limits of consumption and by accepting the authority of man (who fed them). Subsequent to 12 months of this behavior, the animals were prepared to rejoin their natural habitat.

In regards to intimate relations, the animals exited to their families- they would no longer stray towards different species. Rabi Yochanan reveals that the animals did not revert to themselves. This profound change figuratively transformed the animals into new creatures. Passersby would remark that these are different animals!

Education is not achieved by the snap of a finger. Changing ones' nature is subject to intensive work- on intellectual, emotional and practical levels. There are no short cuts in chinuch.


Categorized under: 1: Parshat Shavua > Noach
Uploaded: 10/23/2006 11:57:45 PM