05 Oct PARSHAS NOACH
The Chasam Sofer (Vayigash pg. 218) discusses a phenomenon that we are unfortunately familiar with: there are wise, intelligent people, who act rationally with everything they do, but when their ‘weak spot’ is provoked, they lose themselves and act in the most foolish ways. Actually, almost everyone is guilty of this, at least to some extent. There are areas where we lose our mind and common sense, and we act totally unfitting and irresponsibly. For some, this occurs when it comes to money matters. When they have the opportunity to earn money, they forget their ethics, their yiras shamayim, and about caring for other people. They are ready to do anything and everything to earn money. They don’t care if others get hurt on the way, or if they cause a chilul Hashem. They become blinded by this one goal. Others lose their common sense when it comes to honor. They can be wise people, but they can make total fools of themselves when they fight to get honor. For others, their soft spot is food. They eat unhealthy foods, overeat, eat without manners, etc. For others, jealousy is their sore spot. They can be kind and caring people, but when they are jealous, they act cruelly to others. And there are many other examples. When their soft spot is touched, they cast aside all their morals and intelligence, and indulge in this one negative tendency. The Chasam Sofer writes that even tzaddikim lose themselves at times; they also have their soft spots; but they lose themselves for positive purposes. This is because there is one place where people should lose themselves, and that is for the sake of peace. The pursuit of peace should be so important to us that no rational explanation should deter us from attaining it. The yetzer hara can offer tens of explanations why in this case one should create a fight, but the desire for peace should override all rationale. The Chasam Sofer writes, “The wisdom of every person has its boundary. Some people reach the limit when their jealousy is aroused. At these times, their rational mind ceases to function and they can do things contrary to common sense… Others reach their edge when it comes to money matters or honor, etc. However, a tzaddik rises above these matters; he doesn’t lose his sanity [over these petty matters]. The only area where the tzaddik loses himself and he acts without common sense is for the sake of peace. About this, the passuk says, ‘They make peace their border.’ When they realize that if they will use their wisdom, it will create a conflict, they say, ‘I put a limit on my common sense. I don’t want to use my knowledge now. I prefer that people consider me a fool for the rest of my life, rather than to make a machlokes for even one moment.’” What is the reward? The passuk concludes: “you will be satiated with fat wheat.” This means parnassah. The reward for taking a stance for peace and for making peace your primary goal is parnassah. Therefore, let us emulate this wonderful approach to life. Let’s make shalom our primary objective, a goal that goes beyond logic and common sense. We might have a thousand reasons to be angry with someone, to not speak with someone, etc., but nonetheless we are friendly to them, because the goal of chein is our weak spot, that goes beyond all logic. One of the many gains of this attitude will be parnassah. And another gain will be chein, because we discussed above that tranquility leads to “Chein”. When one is involved in a machlokes, he generally loses his composure and peace of mind. It is hard to remain calm, when one is in a fight. Therefore, for the sake of tranquility and chein alone, it is wise to avoid disputes and to make shalom a primary objective. By avoiding machlokes you will earn parnassah (as the Chasam Sofer taught) and you will also have “Chein” before Hashem.
Until now, we’ve seen two approaches for attaining chein: The Or HaChaim writes that there is a mitzvah (or three or four such mitzvos) which are mesugal for chein. Noach performed those mitzvos, and in this way he attained chein. The Chareidim taught that chein is the result of being Noach, calm and tranquil, at all times and to all people. We discussed some methods that can help us acquire this tranquility (emunah that everything is for the good, avoiding anger, and avoiding machlokes). We will now state another segulah for chein, which is stated in Sefer HaYashar (attributed to the Rabbeinu Tam): The Yismach Yisrael writes, “It is written in Sefer HaYashar from Rabbeinu Tam that although free choice was given to mankind, and one has freedom to choose good and to be disgusted by bad (or to choose the opposite), however, when one finds chein in Hashem’s eyes, Hakadosh Baruch Hu raises him above free choice and he becomes distanced from all sins. He receives this chein when Hakadosh Baruch Hu, Who looks generations ahead, sees that eventually a good child will descend from him.” So according to the Sefer HaYashar, one attains chein when Hashem, who looks generations in advance, sees that a good child will be born from him. The chein is so great; Hashem will save him from free choice, and help him go on the correct path. According to this interpretation, we understand the reason Noach found chein by Hashem. The entire world, including Klal Yisrael with all the tzaddikim, is descendants of Noach. Being the progenitor of a tzaddik gives the person chein before Hashem. The Yismach Yisrael explains that the Sefer HaYasher (who says that chein is given to those who will have good offspring) and the Chareidim’s explanation (that chein is given to those who are serene and calm) are actually one, “because when one avoids anger – which comes from the side of impurity – he will merit having pure children.” The explanation is that by being calm, one is connected to holiness and purity; now he can father good children (because someone who is pure will have pure children). Both factors, therefore – serenity and being the parent of good children – are interrelated. Because of both these merits, he will find chein by Hashem.