In this week’s Parsha, Parshat Noach, the Torah tells us of 2 generations of sinners, The Dor Hamabul (the generation of the flood), and the Dor Haflagah (the generation of division). The Dor Hamabul lost their fear in Hashem. They partook in all types of immoral and destructive activity, as the Torah states, ותמלא הארץ חמס “The Earth was filled with robbery” (6:11). In short, the description of the Dor Hamabul is very bad.
Yet, the Dor Haflaga is even worse. The Dor Haflaga lost themselves even more. They rebelled directly against Hashem’s authority. They attempted to build a tower, go up to Heaven, and conquer the heavens (Bereishit Rabbah 38:7). This is defiance at its peak.
However, if we examine their respective punishments, we find something very interesting. The Dor Hamabul was wiped off the face of the Earth, while the Dor Haflaga was only dispersed around the world. Why was the punishment of the Dor Hamabul more severe if it appears that the sin of the Dor Haflaga was a graver sin? Why did Hashem punish the Dor Haflaga with such leniency?
Chazal explain that there was a substantial merit that the Dor Haflaga possessed that the Dor Hamabul did not. As rebellious and defiant towards Hashem as they were, the Dor Haflaga possessed Shalom, peace, which brought leniency toward them. As wicked as they were, there was still peace and harmony among them. The Dor Hamabul was filled with robbery and crimes, which are Bain Adam Lechaveiro. Therefore there is a more lenient punishment for the Dor Haflaga.
This past Tisha Baav, the Chafetz Chaim Institute made a film featuring Rav Shmuel Kaminetzsky, Rabbi Jonathan Riatti, and Rabbi Yissachar Frand. The subject of this film was avoiding Machloket, strife. The Dor Haflaga eliminated strife and operated under peace and harmony. The Dor Hamabul did not.
A valuable lesson can be learned from this week’s Parsha. Even the Dor Haflaga, with rebellion in mind, were peaceful to each other. Imagine how much more peaceful a generation without rebellion can be. Like the film points out, we should avoid Machloket and ultimately we can be better people. If not, however, the Dor Hamabul reminds us of what can potentially happen.