Past Weekly Shabbat Message
Jewish Heritage
Rabbi Dovid Saks
(Torah Portion Noach) The House! It's Gone!

I was in Brooklyn a while ago, and found myself driving down the street that I had lived until I was nine years old. I anticipated seeing 1154 – 46th Street, the familiar address attached to the stucco gray three family house where we had occupied the third floor apt. But…It wasn’t there! Another house had taken its place!

I quickly called my sister Nechama to commiserate on this phenomenon. I blurted out, “Nechama! The house! It’s gone!” She immediately knew what I was talking about and told me that she too, had recently driven by and discovered that it was gone. She even circled the block again just to make sure that she was seeing correctly.

The house is gone, and our neighbors, the Wasserstroms, Levines, and Morgensterns have also moved away changing the block totally. Yet we still have our memories and know that in fact this is where we grew up in a vibrant home full of life on that very same property.

The first portion of the Torah speaks of the seven days of creation, Adam and Eve, the sin of eating from the Tree of Knowledge, and Kayin killing his brother Hevel. The Torah then lists the names and ages of the descendants of Adam until Noach, a total of ten generations, spanning over a 1600 year period. On the average, they lived over 900 years!

After Adam (1) sinned and was expelled from the Garden of Eden, he separated from Eve for 130 years. He then begot his son Sheis (2). During the lifetime of Enosh (3), the son of Sheis, idolatry was introduced into society and a lifestyle of decadence began. As a response, G-d flooded a third of the world during this generation. Enosh begot Keynan (4), Keynan had a son Mehalalel (5), Mehalalel’s son was Yered (6). Yered had a righteous son Chanoch (7), and Chanoch sired the devout Methushelach (8). Methushelach’s son Lemech (9) had a son Noach (10).

During this time the world spiraled out of control in an immoral and corrupt manner.

Noach was born circumcised, and his father therefore realized that salvation would come through him. He chose the name Noach, which means comfort, portending that Noach would bring comfort to the turbulent society.

Additionally, says the Medrash, until Noach, the hands of human beings were web-like. Noach was the first to have separated fingers, and he invented gardening tools benefitting society greatly.

Noach married a woman named Naamah, who was a righteous descendant of Adam’s son Kayin.

Incidentally, the Torah points out that Naamah’s brothers invented musical instruments such as the flute and the harp. They also made copper and iron implements.

The Flood of Noach (in the year 1656) wiped out the entire human race and all the animals except for those who were in the Ark. The Torah then tells us how the various nations of the world began.

Noach’s three sons, Shem, Cham and Yefes were the progenitors. The Greeks emerged from Yefes, the African and Canaanite nations descended from Cham, and the Semitic nations emerged from Shem.

There were ten generations spanning from Shem to our forefather Avraham. After the flood, the life span of man was significantly reduced. The ten are: Shem (1), Apachshad (2), Shelach (3), Ever (4), Peleg (5). During Peleg’s time the Tower of Babel debacle occurred. Reu (6), Serug (7), Nachor (8), Terach (9), Avraham (10). Avraham was born in the year 1948 from creation and he lived for 175 years.

There were six people who linked the first 2400 years from creation to the time of Moshe. Methushelach saw Adam. Shem the son of Noach saw Methushelach, our forefather Yaacov saw Shem, Amram, Moshe’s father saw Yaacov.

Yes, 5772 years has transpired since Adam was created and not much is left physically to testify to his existence and his many descendants due to the flood and other factors. However, through the Torah we have a pristine documented record of history all the way back to Adam and the seven days of creation, and with all certainty we can say, “The ancient people and edifices have been replaced, nevertheless, we know all that had occurred!”

Wishing you a restful, peaceful
 and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks