Concerning Noach’s building the ark, the Medrash comments:
For 120 years Noach planted ceder trees and cut them. (People who passed by) asked him, “What are you going to do with all this wood“. He answered them, “The Master of the universe is going to bring a flood on the world“. They replied, “If H. brings a flood, H. is going to bring it only on your house“!
Zera Shimshon asks in the name of the Meforshim, why did the people of Noach’s generation think that Noach deserved to be punished more than they? Didn’t they realize that Noach was a bigger tzaddik than they were?
Zera Shimshon explains the people’s thinking based on the Medrash that points out that Noach was different than Moshe. After the incident of the Golden Calf Moshe davvened that Clal Yisroel be saved. Noach, however, not not only did he not davven to save his generation from being destroyed , but he build the ark only to save his own family!
Someone who only thinks of themselves and ignores the rest of the population deserves to be punished.
For instance, in Megillas Esther, Mordechai told Esther that if she wouldn’t go before Achashvarous and plead to save Clal Yisroel then, “relief and rescue will come to the Jews from some other place, and you are father’s house will be destroyed.” The same idea, if Esther won’t try to help the rest of the people she will be punished.
Similarly, the Gemora in Makkos tells us that the mother of the Cohen Gadol brought food and clothing to the people who ran away to the Orei Miklat so that they would davven that her son, the Cohen Gadol, would not die. What was his sin? The Gemorro explains that his sin was that he didn’t davven that the people of his generation would not kill by accident.
This is also what the people in Noach’s generation thought. Since he didn’t davven for the rest of the people to be saved, but only cared about his own family, he therefore deserved to be punished.
Their reasoning was wrong, however. Firstly, Noach didn’t have merits of his ancestors (z’chus avos) like Moshe. Therefore his prayers wouldn’t be so powerful like Moshe’s, Esther’s, and the Cohen Gadol’s. Therefore it was not such a big sin that he didn’t davven for them to be saved. Secondly, Noach reasoned that his generation was so immoral his prayers wouldn’t help.
This d’var Torah is dedicated to Beracha Bas Menucha Shaina. In the merit of the learning Zera Shimshon’s divrai Torah, Hashem should answer her prayers and she should quickly find her proper match along with all the other members of Clal Yisroel who are also looking for their zivug hagun
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