Evil as a ‘Kosher’ Way of Life in Modern Society — “Noach”

Evil as a ‘Kosher’ Way of Life in Modern Society
–“Noach” Hello. This is Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Bregman
from the Jewish Executive Learning Network. It�s Thursday, early morning that means
it�s time to record a video on this week�s parsha. No matter how tired I am, or how tired
you are, what kind of week you had, the Shabbos is coming very soon so that means it�s time
to learn a dvar Torah on the parsha. I was joking with somebody this week because
I probably had at least four nights this week that I slept four hours or less. The person�s
like, �Are you tired?� And I told him, I said something like, �These bags under
my eyes, they ain�t prada.� You know what I mean? But let�s learn the parsha anyway,
and hopefully we�ll limp into the Shabbos, we�ll accelerate into it. So, okay all kidding
aside, let�s learn. So, I�m going to share with you now a dvar
Torah from Short and Sweet on the Parsha. A classic modern Torah work if I say so myself.
But kidding aside, I�m in a good mood because I�m tired. You know like that kind of mood
when you just kind of laugh because you�re tired? So, here we go. All these videos are one take. What happens
happens, so let me just try to be serious from here. Cool dvar Torah for you, in our Short and
Sweet series. In this week�s parsha, Torah portion Noach, most people know the basic
story line � the world was exceedingly sinful, about ten generations after G-d created the
world Hashem said to Noach, �I want you to take you, your wife, your three sons and
their wives, and all these animals that I�m going to send to the ark, we�re going to
put you in the ark and we�re going to redo the world all again.� And the world was
destroyed by a mabul, which is a deluge, an enormous flood of rain water and water that
came out from the earth�s crust, and the world was destroyed. Okay, now let�s get to the verses. So it
says in this week�s Torah portion, and I paper clipped it for you with my nice Artscroll
Stone Chumash, so you can definitely follow my nice professional sounding English. The
verse says in this week�s parsha when G-d is going to stop the flood and undo it, He
says, �I will not continue to curse again the ground because of man.� Okay so we�re
not going to have any more curses like this in the world. And then He says, �Since the
imagery of man�s heart is evil from his youth. So G-d cites this � that the imagery
of a person�s heart is evil from his youth as a reason to stop the flood. Okay well that�s
a nice verse. A nice pasuk. We actually saw something earlier, in last
week�s Torah portion, something that sounds familiar. When G-d is discussing the reason
why am I going to bring the flood, He says, the verse said, �Hashem saw the wickedness
of man was great upon the earth, and that every product of the thoughts of his heart
was but evil always.� So the two verses kind of sound similar. �Every
product of the thoughts of his heart was but evil always,� that�s why G-d brought the
flood. But now He�s going to stop the flood because �the imagery of a person�s heart
is evil from his youth.� So the psukim, the verses sound kind of similar. Don�t
they? I know they do and I�m sure you know what I mean. They sound kind of similar, but
there�s some differences. And let�s try to analyze this very intelligently. Some differences.
One difference is that when G-d is going to bring the flood it says that every product
of the person, not just the imagery that he has, but it says every one, every one. And
then it talks about in the verse when he�s going to destroy the world, talks about the
thoughts of a person, and later when G-d is going to stop the flood, it says its evil.
The person is involved in evil, thinking evil, but here it says evil always. So why is it that one talks about every product,
and one verse, and that same verse talking about destruction coming talks about the thoughts
and evil always and not just evil. But I guess evil is not so bad because when G-d says,
�I�m going to stop the flood,� the imagery of a man�s heart is evil from his youth.
So I guess there is a certain amount that could be tolerated, so what is this about?
So that�s the set up, and I�ll tell you a really nice dvar Torah. I bring it in Short
and Sweet on the Parsha in the span of a page, its great stuff. Here�s the idea. The Slonimer Rebbe, the
Slonimer Rebbe brings in his sefer a nice answer. He says like this. He says, �Look,
what is this evil that a person has from his youth? That is going on the concept of yetzer
hara, the evil inclination.� Every single person has a yetzer hara, an evil inclination,
a desire that G-d put inside of them to be tempted at times to do bad, to do evil, go
in the opposite direction of what Hashem wants. He wants you to go to the right, you go to
the left. Something like that. We also have counterbalance with that, a yetzer tov. The
yetzer tov is a good inclination, which is a desire to go in the right direction. And
we have to choose holiness, and choose good, and avoid evil. Okay. So when the verse says
at the time when G-d is going to end the flood, He says, �Look. I�m going to end the flood,
and I understand that the imagery of a person has a tendency, some perpetuity for evil since
he�s young, since he�s youth. Why? �Because I�m the one,� G-d�s saying, �Who put
the yetzer hara inside of a person. I�m the one who made them like that. I�m the
one who made them like that so I understand, and that�s something that�s okay.� So then you would ask as the Slonimer Rebbe
does in his sefer, like when then did Hashem destroy the world? Was there reason to destroy
the world? The answer is, look back what it said. It talked over there about the thoughts
of a person, and that it was for evil and always. What does that mean? It means basically
like this. You know, we live in a world when we see this a lot today, there�s a difference
between when you are tempted sometimes to do the wrong thing, and when you become a
consumer of it. Sometimes you�re tempted, or you walk into a situation by accident and
you feel some tugging inside of you to do the wrong thing, you know that happens, that
definitely happens, but there�s a difference between that and when you go look for it,
when you design a culture with laws and opportunities to experience the evil, to legitimize the
evil, that a problem. It�s one, you know it�s one thing and G-d says, �I understand
that you might be tempted now and then to do the wrong thing. But, and, but that�s
the imagery of your heart. It�s evil from your youth. I understand that and you know,
we need you to pass the test.� But the problem with the generation of the flood that merited
the destruction, it wasn�t just that they once in a while would make a mistake, no they
built a society based on satisfying people�s desire to do evil. That�s why it says not
just oh they had some bad ideas. No, it said, �Every product,� it said in the first
verse, �Of the thoughts,� why thoughts? Because this is what they�re thinking about
all day � how can I do this? How can I do that? How can I figure out the thing that
I want to do and make it legitimate, or make it legalized or whatever else, you know? And
that�s why it says, it wasn�t just that when G-d says later on, �Okay I�ll end
the flood,� it says there was evil. But in the beginning when He�s going to bring
the flood, it says, �evil always.� That�s the idea. So, that�s the idea. That�s the difference
between the two. What�s the basic bottom line point and take away? Look, every single
person has temptations in life. Your temptations might be different then his, and hers, and
theirs, and mine, and whatever. Like that is what it is, but don�t go looking to participate
in a society, it could be amongst your friends, it could be in your community or otherwise,
don�t go look to create and participate in a society actively that is looking to celebrate
and legitimize ways that you�re looking to do wrong. Okay. So I�m talking to a man
now. If you�re a man and you�re sometimes tempted by you know, to do inappropriate things
or whatever by an attractive person of the opposite gender you see walking around, okay
that�s called normal. Use your yetzer tov, your good inclination and don�t misbehave
and conquer your evil inclination. But don�t look to think about this all day long, to
manufacture opportunities to put yourself in a place to do bad. We live in a world today where we have websites,
an entire economies and everything else, that seek to basically make the evil that we want,
that we might otherwise be able to shield ourselves from and control, and it looks to
legitimize it, and support it, and encourage us to go after it. And that�s something
G-d says, �I can�t deal with it.� And that�s why He destroyed the world in the
first time. Regular run of the mill � you know you feel temptations sometimes in the
course of daily, normal, ethical life. G-d says, �I understand you. I feel you. I�m
with you. We could work with you.� But once society goes in a direction of actually building
structures, legal, economic, experiential and everything else, to basically make it
easier for us to go against the will of G-d, we�re going in the direction of the flood.
And that, the Slonimer Rebbe says, is the difference between those two verses. Look
at them closely inside. Maybe replay the video if you need to, so you can find those verses.
Or, pick up Short and Sweet on the Parsha and you can find it inside in Torah portion
Noach. Anyway, have a great Shabbos. If you haven�t
yet, please subscribe to this YouTube channel so we can continue to sprinkle good Torah
into your life. Have a great Shabbos. Bye.

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