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These Are the Generations of Noah
Article No. 4, Tav-Shin-Mem-Hey, 1984-195
“These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man. He was complete in his generations. Noah walked with God.”
RASHI interprets, to teach you that the generations of the righteous are primarily good deeds. RASHI explains why he says, “These are the generations of Noah.” It should have said the names of his sons, meaning Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And why does it say, “These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man?” He explains that it is because the generations of the righteous are primarily good deeds.
“In his generations,” since some of our sages praise him—that if he were in a generation of righteous, he would have been more righteous. Others condemn him—if he were he in the generation of Abraham, he would be regarded as nothing.
“Noah walked with God.” RASHI interprets, with Abraham he says, “Before whom I walked.” Noah needed assistance to support him, but Abraham was strong and walked with his righteousness by himself.
To explain all the above in the work, we should know that father and son, fathers and generations [offspring], mean cause and consequence. Normally, when a person does something, he is certain that this act will engender something. For example, a person who goes to work in some factory wants to beget a salary through his actions, so he can provide for himself. It turns out that the father is the labor and the generation [offspring] is the provision. Likewise, when a person learns some wisdom he wants to be appreciated as wise by that, meaning that everything a person does is only to see generations from his actions.
Therefore, when a person engages in Torah and Mitzvot [commandments], he certainly wants some generations to be born out of his actions.
According to what is written in the holy Zohar (Introduction to the Book of Zohar, item 189) and in the Sulam, and these are its words (in the Sulam, item 190), “Fear is interpreted in three ways, two of which do not have the proper root, and one is the root of fear. There is person who fears the Creator so his sons will live and not die, or fears a monetary punishment. For this reason, he always fears Him. It turns out that his fear of the Creator is not the root, since his own benefit is the root, and the fear is its consequence [generation]. And there is a person who fears the Creator because he fears the punishment of that world, and the punishment of hell. Those two fears—fear of punishment in this world and fear of punishment in the next world—are not the essence of the fear and its root.” (In item 191) “Fear, which is the essence, is that one should fear one’s Master because He is great and ruling, the essence and root of all the worlds, and everything is regarded as nothing compared to Him.”
It follows from the above that from the work in which a person labors, which is called the “father,” he wants to see generations from his work, which is called the “fruit of his work.”
There are three types of generations we should see here. 1) Reward in this world, meaning that his sons will live and he will succeed in provision, etc. 2) Reward in the next world. 3) Because He is great and ruling. This means that all the generations he aspires for is to be able to bestow contentment upon the Creator.
It follows from the above that there is the matter of generations which are called “good deeds,” and good means bestowing upon the Creator, as it is written (Psalms 45), “My heart overflows with a good thing. I say, ‘My work is for the King.’” This means that he wants all of his actions to be for the Creator, and this is called “good deeds.” For his own benefit he wants no reward, and all the reward he hopes for is to be able to do things that bring contentment to the Creator without any reward for his own labor. This means that his reward is that he will be given that gift of being able to do things only for the sake of the Creator, without any mixture of intention to benefit himself. This is the reward for which he engages in Torah and Mitzvot. For such good deeds he hopes to attain this by his labor. It was said about this (Kidushin 30): “I have created the evil inclination; I have created for it the Torah as a spice.”
Accordingly, what are the generations of the righteous? Only good deeds, meaning the result that stems from the reason, and the reason is the labor in Torah and Mitzvot. For the rest of the people, the results of the reason is reward in this world or reward in the next world. But to the righteous, their results from the reason is that their father, who begets generations, is only good deeds. This is the only reward they hope for—be able to bring contentment to the Creator.
This is the meaning of what RASHI interprets, “That the generations of the righteous is primarily good deeds.” This is regarded as all their actions being only to bestow contentment upon the Creator. However, we should understand what RASHI interprets about the essence of the generations of the righteous, and what they consider secondary, which they do not regard as the essence.
It is known that there are actions and there is understanding and knowing. That is, that which is within reason is called understanding and knowing, meaning that the body, too, agrees that we should engage in Torah and Mitzvot, since once a person has achieved the degree of Lishma [for Her sake], he is rewarded with the light of life, which is found in Torah and Mitzvot. It is as it is written (Psalms 19), “More desirable than gold, then much fine gold, and sweeter than honey and the honeycomb.” This is called “understanding,” where the body, too, understands that it is worthwhile to be a servant of the Creator.
Rabbi Meir says (Avot, Chapter 6), “Anyone who engages in Torah Lishma is rewarded with many things. Moreover, the whole world is worthwhile for him, and the secrets of Torah are revealed to him.”
To the righteous, all these things attained by engaging in Lishma are not regarded as the essence. That is, this is not their intention in the work in Torah and Mitzvot. Rather, what is most important for them is good deeds, meaning to bestow contentment upon the Creator. It is in that regard that they expected to achieve a degree of deeds above reason. Their intention was not to have generations of understanding and knowing, but rather, their intention was only the actions. This is the meaning of what RASHI explained, “To teach you that the generations of the righteous are primarily good deeds.”
According to the above, we can interpret what RASHI explains about, “in his generations.” “Some of our sages praise him: Moreover, if he were in a generation of righteous, he would have been more righteous. Others condemn him: If he were in Abraham’s generation, he would be regarded as noting.”
In his generations means his two generations, because two is plural. But concerning the work, each and every state is called a “generation.” This is the meaning of, “One generation shall praise your work to another.” It means that whether a person is in a generation of wicked, meaning if a person has thoughts and desires of the wicked, at which time a person has great exertion to be able to overcome the arguments of the wicked, which peck his mind and thought with the questions of who and what. At that time, he cannot overcome them unless with the power of faith above reason. This is regarded as subduing the arguments of the wicked not with answers within reason, but rather only with the power of faith above reason can he defeat them.
This is called an “act,” meaning without intellect, and this is called, “If he has performed one Mitzva[commandment] he is happy, for he has sentenced himself and the entire world to a scale of merit,” for only with an act can we defeat the argument of the wicked, and not with intellect and reason.
Accordingly, we should say that Noah’s generation refers to a generation of wicked. He should be praised because then he has the primary hard work. But he should be condemned because in the end, he is in a generation of wicked, meaning he has foreign thoughts, and it is unbecoming of a servant of the Creator to have such wicked in his mind and heart.
We should also say, that in the generation of Abraham, meaning in a generation where there are righteous, namely when he has good thoughts, of righteous, it is when there only one desire is in his mind and heart—to bring contentment to the Creator—and thoughts and desires of the wicked never crossed his mind or heart. Such a person is in a generation of righteous.
Others praise, for if Noah had been in the state of righteous, meaning if he had equalized the powers of overcoming that he had in the generation of the wicked, what would he have felt then compared to the feeling he has now, which is the pleasantness and sweetness of the Torah? Certainly, the time of Noah’s generation, which was called a “generation of wicked,” that time was regarded as nothing, for then he still did not feel the delight and pleasure that he feels in a generation of righteous.
But with respect to the work, the time when he was in a generation of wicked was a place for work. It turns out that Noah’s generation is more important because he has what to do, for the generations of the righteous are primarily good deeds.
“Noah walked with God.” RASHI interprets that with Abraham he says, “Before whom I walked.” Noah needed assistance to support him, but Abraham was strong and walked by his righteousness. This means that there are two types of forces in a person, which are called “vessels of reception” and “vessels of bestowal.” Vessels of bestowal relate to the Creator, as the Creator is the giver, and vessels of reception relate to the creature, who is the receiver.
The vessels of reception. which relate to the receiver, come before the vessels of bestowal. In the words of Kabbalah, the vessels of bestowal are called Keter, Hochma, and Gar deBina, and below them are the vessels of reception, which are Zat de Bina, Zeir Anpin, and Malchut.
Accordingly, the vessels of bestowal are called, “God walked with Noah,” meaning that in a place of vessels of bestowal, it was possible to walk in holiness, meaning vessels of bestowal that relate to the Creator, which are vessels of bestowal. This is called, “Noah needed assistance to support him,” since the upper one gives the vessels of bestowal, which is regarded as Noah needing assistance to support him.
This means that the upper one awakens him to work, called “awakening from above,” as it is written in The Study of the Ten Sefirot (part 9, page 735, item 6, and in Ohr Pnimi): “However, in the beginning, in the first time, the MAN that were not by ZON in AVI went up, and then the ZON were made of those MAN. After ZON were established, they raised MAN a second time. Once he has the vessels of bestowal, which he acquired through awakening from above, which is called, ‘Noah needed assistance to support him,’ which comes from the upper one, and this was the degree of Noah.”
But Abraham did not need assistance to support him. RASHI makes that precision from the words, “Before whom I walked.” It means, that he walked with vessels of reception, which stand before the vessels of bestowal. The vessels of bestowal—which are Keter, Hochma, and Gar de Bina—stand above, and below them stand the vessels of reception, which are Zat de Bina and ZON.
Since Abraham walked with vessels that are before him, before the vessels of bestowal, which relate to the Creator, and we relate the vessels of reception to the receivers, this is why using the vessels of reception is called “awakening from below,” which is attributed to the lower one.
This is the meaning of Abraham not needing assistance to support him because he walked with vessels of reception. With those Kelim [vessels] he was serving the Creator. But the words, “God walked with Noah,” mean the Kelim that are attributed to God, which are vessels of bestowal, which are vessels of the Creator, and those Kelim the Creator gives.
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