This week’s parsha, Noach, begins discussing the crimes of the generation before the flood. Although mankind no longer lived in Gan Eden, their lifestyle was extremely comfortable. The people lived enjoyable lives, with uninterrupted serenity. Children were born on the same day they were conceived. A newborn even had the ability to walk and speak immediately. The people lived extremely long lives; only after they sinned did Hashem shorten life to one hundred and twenty years. People from the generation before the flood had enormous physical strength, they were able to uproot trees and lions and panthers were harmless to them. This generation did not know what suffering was! Because the seasons never changed and the weather was always enjoyable, the perople only needed to sow the land every forty years.
The generation before the flood was living the dream! They had everything they needed and didn’t think they needed to follow G-d’s authority. They were knowingly guilty of idol worship, bloodshed, and immorality (three of the six commandments Hashem gave over to Adam). They said,
“For what purpose do we need still need Him? We do not even require His help to obtain water, since we need no rain. We get abundant supply of water from different sources; we have the streams and wells of the earth!” Hashem answered them, “Is it with the very goodness that I bestowed upon you that you rebel against Me?! I shall punish you with the same substance, rain water, and therefore, (6:17), ‘I will bring the flood of water.’
The generation before the flood completely turned from Hashem. They were prosperous and gained their independence from Him through witchcraft. They worshiped idols, they murdered, and they were sexual immoral (Many men took two wives, one for childbearing and one for pleasure. Men exchanged wives. They arranged marriage contracts between man and beasts.) This generation had been taught the laws Adam was given, yet they still chose to sin. Moreover, Hashem in His great mercy, was going to spare this generation, had they repented; however, their additional sin of robbery was inexcusable.
Does this sound familiar? WE live in that very same world! A world where people think they are completely independent from Hashem (worshiping themselves and their accomplishments, rather than recognizing that their success is from Hashem) and where people knowingly ignore Hashem’s commandments!
Today we live in the most affluent society known to mankind, where we are independent thinkers, too advanced to believe in G-d. Ironically, we are enslaved by this corrupting ideology! Our society has been corrupted by material abundance, which has caused immense pandemonium! Our society worships materialism, we have become desensitized by bloodshed, and people are more promiscuous than ever! Rather than learning from the mistakes made in history, we repeat them!
The only way to achieve true harmony and avoid any future destruction is through living according to Hashem’s dictates. The Torah is not just a book of restrictions, as many people like to argue, but rather, the wisdom of the Torah teaches us how to be freed from being dependent on this materialistic and corrupting society, as the generation before the flood and our current generation are ruled by.
Moreover, the Torah teaches us how to rule over the physical dimension that our society is poisoned by (Judaism teaches to take the physical and material world and elevate it to get closer to Hashem, examples include: using your wealth to help the needy, saying prayers before eating, getting married according to the Torah standards--sexuality challenged properly, etc.).
Moreover, by recognizing that we are completely dependent on Hashem for everything we have, and not dependent on our material desires, we will develop a heighten appreciation for all the kindness He bestows upon us. Parshas Noach teaches us just that! Don't let the allure of independence poison you to forget your true dependence on Hashem!