Friday, October 23, 2009

Noach: Righteous and Perfect

"These are the generations of Noah, Noah was a righteous man he was perfect in his generations; Noah walked with G-d." (Genesis 6:9)

Marcheshvan 5, 5770/October 23, 2009

Thousands of years ago our sages discussed the relative merits of two giants in the history of man: Avraham and Noach. Both were righteous, our sages agree, but who was more righteous? Noach saved mankind from extinction, but did he do all he could have to save his fellow men and women? Avraham intervened on behalf of the residents of Sodom. Why didn't Noach plead with G-d on behalf of his generation? Noach walked with G-d, but did he walk with man?

Was it truly the intention of our sages to pit one tzaddik - righteous man - against another? Everyone is unique, and so too are the righteous distinct one from another. A question of relative righteousness seems undignified, not in good taste. So what was behind the words of our sages?

Torah tells us that Noach was righteous. This is an appellation that the Torah bestows on very few individuals. It is an unfettered, unconditioned, uncompromising affirmation of Noach's spiritual and moral stature.

Furthermore, Torah doesn't leave off with this remarkable accolade, but goes on to call Noach tamim - pure, (or, even, perfect). None of the Hebrew patriarchs are so designated by Torah, and upon inspection only one Torah figure woud seem to embody such far-reaching descriptions of "righteous, pure and perfect," and that would be pre-fruit-eating Adam. Certainly the work of G-d's hands merited these praises, and certainly G-d sought such a man to re-establish humanity after the devastation of the flood. Could G-d have settled for less? Are we all not Noach's children? Does not Torah call upon each and every one of us to strive toward perfection of the spirit? Such expectations would be out of place were our common father anything less than righteous and pure.

Today we live in a world not unlike the world that Noach lived in. Unprecedented violence, unrestrained hatred, unbridled wickedness rules our days. Torah describes the situation in Noach's generation as being one of "hamas." This ancient Hebrew word which denotes a violent lack of regard for the property or the sanctity of others, today is, of course, the name of one of the most despicable terrorist organizations on the face of the earth. But it is not even the terrorists themselves, but the tactical support and the moral justification that the western world is bequeathing these terrorists which is the real hamas that the Torah speaks of: the hamas of irredeemable contempt and disdain for G-d and for the man that He created in His image. In short the world today has run amok. Who will save it?

Today, after millennia in which very few souls took upon themselves the moral legacy of Noach, a worldwide community of individuals seeking a new spiritual and moral path, are laying claim to the 4000 year old patrimony of Noach. Today, the fledgling community of Bnei Noach has reattached itself to the G-d of Israel and has reaffirmed that there is a G-d in the world. Today, the community of the progeny of Noach is growing, not just in numbers, but in its commitment to the Noahide commandments, and in its loyalty to the nation of Israel.

Today the looming threat of an approaching holocaust on the scale of the great flood, taking with it man and beast, cannot be denied. Could it be that the question of our sages concerning the nature of Noach's "perfect righteousness" was never intended to cast doubt on the accomplishments of Noach himself, but was a challenge addressed to our very generation? How righteous was Noach? That's for us to decide, not through debate, but through our actions, and through the path we take to shepherd our generation of mankind to a brighter future, a future of moral clarity and brotherly love. A future in which man walks with man, and mankind walks with G-d.

Tune in to this week's Temple Talk as Rabbi Chaim Richman and Yitzchak Reuven discuss the sweet future that awaits us beneath the bitter surface of the month of Marcheshvan, the beginning of the blessed rainy season in Israel, the righteous Noach, who walked with G-d, and the anniversary of the Rambam's celebrated journey to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

The Temple Institute has revived the ancient craft of altar building, rooted in the land of Israel. Our sages have bequeathed us with precise instructions and descriptions of the particular materials to be used, including the type of stones and the recipe for the manufacture of the mortar to hold the stones. Reclaiming this knowledge and relearning the methods and skills required involved hands on experimentation and investigation. The Temple Institute is currently exploring a number of traditions handed down by our sages describing different methods of construction.

The Temple Institute introduces the newest phase of a comprehensive and revolutionary project whose intended purpose is the construction of a large stone altar, (mizbeach), whose ultimate destiny is to be transported to its proper location on the Temple Mount, when the historic opportunity arises.
To learn about our newest stone altar initiative, and to see photographs, please click here.

Today also features the new Light to the Nations teaching by Rabbi Chaim Richman, entitled, "Rambam's Hilchot Beit haBechira - Laws of the Chosen House, Chapter VIII: The Levitical Watches, Part II: Rambam's Hilchot Beit haBechira - Laws of the Chosen House, Chapter VIII: The Levitical Watches, Part II: On guard for the honor of G-d’s Shechina: What happens when a Levite is caught dozing on his shift? It seems astonishing to us that such a thing could occur: to fall asleep while guarding the Holy Temple, but for the Levites and Priests who shared the guard duty, this was, after all, a day-to-day activity! How we could use such a system of guarding the sanctity of the Temple Mount today! Click here to view.

See and hear Rabbi Chaim Richman and Rena Richman as they make their way across Texas, New Mexico and Minnesota during the middle two weeks of November. They will be teaching Torah, relating the latest events taking place in Israel and Jerusalem, and on the Temple Mount. The Rabbi and Rena will be sharing news of the Temple Institute and of the steady progress toward the rebuilding of the Holy Temple. They will also be bringing recently completed vessels for the Holy Temple, for all to see. For details, see below.
Entrance is free of charge. Donations to the work of the Temple Institute are most welcome and appreciated. We look forward to seeing you!

Click here to view Rabbi Richman's video invitation.
Click here for schedule details.
To download and print the Rabbi and Rena's teaching schedule, please click here.

843 years ago this Shabbat, Moshe ben Maimon, (Maimonides), made his historic journey from North Africa to the land of Israel and to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, where he fulfilled the Torah commandment of showing reverence to G-d in the place of His Holy Temple. To read Maimonides' own words describing his impressions and expressions of gratitude, click here.

The mystery of Noach: How righteous was he? Was he a perfect tzaddik? Or could he have done more to save humanity? Noach walked with G-d, but did he walk with man? Click here to view Rabbi Richman's short teaching on parashat Noach (Genesis 6:9-11:32).

Blessings from the holy city of Jerusalem,
Yitzchak Reuven
PO Box 31876
Jerusalem, Israel 97500

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