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“For this is as the waters (The Flood) of Noach
(Noah) unto Me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go
over the earth,” [Yeshaya (Isaiah) 54:9]
The verse attributes the Great Flood to
Noach by referring to it as “The waters of Noach”. The Rabbis teach that
because Noach should have prayed on behalf of his generation and didn’t,
therefore the Flood was attributed to him, as if he was the cause of the Flood.
should Noach be blamed? Hashem (God) told Noach that the generation “was
corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted its way on the earth. Hashem said to Noach,
The end of all flesh has come before Me. The earth is filled with violent crime
because of them, and so, I will destroy them with the earth”. If Hashem says
they must be destroyed, what could Noach’s prayers have accomplished? Could
the world have had a chance?
The answer is Yes! Tefila (prayer) would have helped.
do we know that had Noach prayed he could have saved his generation from
destruction? Because after the flood when Noach and his family left the Taiva
(ark) to begin a new world, the verse testifies: “Noach built an altar to
Hashem, and took of every [ritually] clean animal and of every [ritually] clean
bird, and brought up burnt-offerings on the altar. Hashem smelled the pleasing
fragrance, and Hashem said, Never again will I curse the ground because of
man, for the inclination of man`s heart is evil from [the time of] his youth. I
will never again smite every living thing as I have done” (verses 20-21).
Noach’s offerings worked! Hashem made a promise never to destroy mankind again
as He had done in the generation of the Flood.
We see from this that despite Noach’s elevated spiritual level (he is called “Tzaddik”,
a righteous man, when he is introduced at the beginning of this portion), he
didn’t fully comprehend the power of a prayer. The more one believes and
places his complete faith in prayer, the more effective it is. As the Talmud
states (Rosh Hashanah 18a) If two people with like illnesses fell sick, or
convicted of like crimes stand to be executed, one is saved and the other is
not; the one who was saved, was saved because he prayed a complete prayer and
was answered; What does it mean a “complete prayer”? He prayed with proper
concentration, that’s why he was answered.
Rav Eliyahu Lopian z’l (Lev Eliyahu) asked: Is it possible that someone in any
of these situations would NOT pray a complete prayer with proper concentration?
He answers that a “complete prayer” means that he had “complete faith in
the power of his prayer”. That’s why he was answered and saved.
One time the Rebbe of Kotsk’s sister became very sick, the doctors did not
give her much hope of a cure. She came to her brother pleading him to pray on
her behalf. The Rebbe answered that there was nothing he could do for her and
sent her home. He closed his door. She began to cry; “Ribono Shel Olom (Master
of the world), even my own brother, for all his holiness cannot help me, please
Hashem only You can help me!” Suddenly the door opened and the Holy Rebbe of
Kotsk declared: “That was what I wanted to hear; that in your desperation you
would turn to Hashem himself, for HE is the only One Whom can cure all ills”.
In effect the Rabbi was teaching: Never underestimate the power of a sincere
In June 2001 Chaim Yehuda Shoham, a 5-month old baby of a family that was
critically injured in a stone throwing attack as his family was driving through
Shilo. The dying baby was rushed to the ICU at Hadassah Hospital. The doctors’
prognosis was that they didn’t expect the child to survive for more than a few
hours. The family held a round-the- clock prayer vigil around the baby’s crib
in the ICU. He survived 5 more days until finally succumbing to his wounds. As
remarkable as this was, it was more remarkable that after the baby’s death,
the family received several letters from parents whose children were also in the
ICU at the time and the doctors despaired of helping them. Their children
miraculously got better. Although the prayers for the Shoham’s baby did not
seem to have a great effect on his own situation, these prayers helped other
people in the ICU.
MORAL: Never underestimate the power of prayer.
on a lecture given by Rabbi Yissocher Frand (Yad Yechiel Institute, Lecture Tape