Parashat Noah- Noah, the DeLEGate for Kindness
This week we commemorated Shimon HaSadik's Hiloula/Yahrzeit. Who is Shimon HaSadik you ask? He is the one who said 'The world is stands on three things: On Torah, on Avodah ( 'Service' which refers to Tefillah), and on Gemilout Hasadim (Acts of Kindness)' (Mishnah in Pirkei Avot 1:2 ). Rabbeinu Yona explains that 'the world stands' on these three things means that these three virtues are the purpose of creation; creation happened in order to bring these things into being.
Haza''l teach us that Noah and his sons did not sleep for all twelve months since they always had to be up to feed the animals. Noah and his sons worked tremendously hard in order to ensure the comfort and survival of these animals Rashi brings forth a Midrash on Parashat Noah that Noah was once late to feed a lion so the lion bit him in the leg. WHAT? But look how hard Noah was working! How come HaKadosh Barukh Hu planned it this way that the world had to be destroyed through a flood and Noah would have to work so hard to build a Tevah (Ark) and gather all these animals and take care of them? We see in Parashat Bereshit that HaShem created the world just by willing it to happen this way, why didn't He destroy the world using the same method? Do you know how much work Noah had to do in order to complete what HaShem required of him?? What was the point of making Noah work this hard and what does it mean that a lion bit him in the leg because he was fed late?
Let's find out.
The Midrush teaches us that up until the time that the Torah HaKedoshah was given, there was no 'Torah' required of us that Shimon HaSadik refers to. Likewise, before the Mishkan was built, we had no Avodah, Service, that we were required to do. The only thing that we were required to do was the third leg of Gemilout Hasadim, Acts of Kindess, that the world relies on. Until the Torah was given and the Mishkan was built, the world solely depended on Gemilout Hasadim. Rashi brings the Gemara in Sanhedrin that tells us, although the generation of the Maboul, flood, was guilty of many sins, the Maboul was brought only on the account of the 'hamas' that was in the world, because of the corruption, theft and cheating (the opposite extreme of Gemilout Hasadim) that went on between people. Since they did not hold up the only pillar that the world relied on, there was no purpose for the existence of such people. This is why the Ribono Shel Olam decided to completely erase these people. This is why He sent the Maboul.
Noah and his family were the only ones that did enough kindness in the world and so HaShem did not want to get rid of them. They were therefore given the enormous task of restoring this kindness, this Gemilout Hasadim, in the world. This is why HaShem did not simply destroy the world as easy as He had created it—there was a rectification to be done. This is why Noah had to work so hard.
Okay but poor Noah, couldn't he at least keep his leg?
We just learned that the world stands on three legs. During Noah's time, the world stood on one leg-- that of Gemilout Hasadim. When Noah was late to feeding the lion, he was weakening the hold on the world's sole leg. When Noah weakened this leg, HaShem weakened Noah's leg. This was a reminder to him to do his task right, to strengthen the leg that the world stands on.
Noah had to go to great lengths to ensure that the kindness in this world was rebalanced. Given the magnitude of his task, feeding the lion late was an infraction of his job. This shows us how important Gemilout Hasadim, acting kind and sensitive to others is. Noah was chosen to perpetuate kindness in the world but we have to take over after him in fulfilling this mission. In reestablishing kindness in the world we cannot afford to slack off or be late, we cannot afford to create faults. Often times we tell ourselves, I am as kind as can be! I give Sedakah each morning, I open up my pockets anytime a person asks! Who can be kinder than me? or I am definitely doing my part with Hesed! Anytime I am asked I do exactly what others request of me, I make sure to do it just right! But even with all of this, our Sedakah and Hesed may not count has veShalom if we don't do it with kindness, with a smile. When we are asked to do a Missvah, do we groan and moan and make faces that we have to do it? When a person asks for Sedakah do we just throw it in their direction and walk by? It is not enough just to do Hesed, but we must do it beSimhah! The person on the receiving end needs the warmth and kindness of another individual more than the actual accomplishment of what they are requesting of us. Even if we do not have enough time to offer to wash the dishes or if we do not have change in our pocket that day, we could still offer a smile and kind words, and this is more Hesed than anyone could ever ask for. Sometimes the smile and warmth is worth far more than the time or money we give others.
Haza''l tells us that every time we do a Missvah, we create a Malakh, an angel. What many of us don't know is that how we do the Missvah determines what kind of Malakh we create. If we do the Missvah or Hesed in a complete fashion—beSimhah Rabbah, without complaining or doing it halfheartedly—we create a complete Malakh that is Shalem If however, we do a Missvah not the most fitting way, it is true that we create a Malakh, but that Malakh will come out crippled, and who wants a crippled and deformed Malakh to escort and protect them? Not me.
The point is clear. Torah and Avodah are tremendously important, but without Gemilout Hasadim, the world cannot hold itself up. Just like a chair needs a minimum of three legs to stand up, the world needs three legs as well. Be'Ezrat HaShem, let's make sure that when we do our Torah and Avodah, that we can incorporate Hesed in there as well. Let all of our actions be in kindness, and in this zekhout, may we do the Tikkun for Noah's generation and rectify the amount of Hesed that must be brought to our special world. The quicker we are able to do this, the faster we will bring Mashiah Sidkenu BiMeherah BeYamenu, Amen!
BH the next time we have an opportunity for Torah and Avodah, let's make sure that we do it with warmth and kindness, with a GIANT smile and with diginity. Whether it is davening, respecting parents and elders, learning, giving Sedakah or anything else in Avodat HaShem, let us do it beMiddat haHesed!
WISHING EVERYONE A SHABBAT SHALOM UMEVORAKH!!!!
Based on a Devar Torah from Geshmak Torah at www.gtorah.com