Thursday, October 29, 2015

497 - Noach

Following Noach's exodus from the teivah, the Torah tells us, "Noach became mundane and planted a vineyard" (Bereishis 9:20). Chazal (Bereishis Rabba 36:4 cited by Rashi) explain that he should have first planted wheat or another more essential food. In other words, the planting of the vineyard was not a problem per se; rather, the planting of other crops should have taken priority and only afterward should he have planted a vineyard. Rav Wolbe (Daas Shlomo) comments that an error simply in the proper order of events, caused Noach - referred to earlier in the parsha as "righteous and pure" - to become mundane!

It appears that acting with seder (proper orderliness), is not merely an added plus, it is an imperative aspect of one's avodas Hashem. Chazal tell us (Shabbos 31a) that when one arrives in the Next World, the very first questions he is asked are, "Were you honest in your business dealings?" and "Did you designate time for learning?" However, in Sanhedrin (7a) Chazal assert that the judgment in the Next World focuses first not on a person's honesty in business; rather it focuses on one's Torah learning.

Tosafos deals with this seeming contradiction, and explains that the Gemara in Sanhedrin is referring to someone who had not learned Torah at all, while the Gemara in Shabbos deals with someone who learned Torah but did not set aside a specific time for Torah study. While he might have studied Torah regularly, he is judged specifically whether or not he set aside a designated time for learning, because seder is so crucial. Whether the subject is planting crops or learning Torah; random performance leaves room for error.

Furthermore, in tefillas ma'ariv we praise Hashem for, "setting the stars in a specific order in their heavenly constellations as He wills." Orderliness testifies to the will and intent of the one who arranged the order. (Parenthetically, Rav Wolbe adds, that this idea is one of the clearest proofs that there is a Creator. The fact that the entire universe is arranged so methodically and all of nature runs so systematically proves that there must be Someone who organized it all.) If a person lacks orderliness in his Torah study or his avodas Hashem, he must make an honest reckoning whether he has a genuine interest in serving Hashem or perhaps his Torah and mitzvos are performed without a clear sense of direction.

The month of Cheshvan affords us the opportunity to "get back on schedule." For some, the return to Yeshiva or Kollel allows them to designate specific times for Torah learning that might have been lacking during bein hazmanim. For others, the steady weekly schedule of the winter months that was absent during the month of Tishrei, provides them with continuity that enables them to actualize their kabbalos for the new year. Cheshvan is the time to take the spiritual gains of the Yamim Noraim and create seder in our avodah, thereby showing Hashem that it is our true desire to serve Him!

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