Hoarding Skills, Hoarding Sins by Simcha Wagner


In Parashat Noach, when Hashem instructs Noach to gather up seven pairs of Kosher animals for Korbanot, he uses the interesting word of “Lecha,” “for yourself” (BeReishit 7:2). This phrasing is rather unusual if we understand the Korbanot to be for the purpose of thanking Hashem, as not only Noach had been saved but his entire family as well. Why doesn’t the Pasuk instruct that Korbanot are to be made Lachem, in plural, or Lecha ULeVeitecha, for you and for your family? The answer is that these Korbanot were not strictly to show gratitude. They had an element of repentance to them for something which Noach did that required atonement. What exactly did Noach do wrong? After all, he did exactly as Hashem asked, faithfully building the ark and caring for all of the animals contained within. However, if one studies the Parashah carefully, one notices that Noach is something of an isolationist. He doesn’t really associate with humanity or attempt to change them. We hear nothing about his relationship with his peers or his attempts to reform them. Proof for this can be found in the first Pasuk in the Perek. Hashem tells Noach that the reason that he is being saved is because, “Otcha Ra’iti Tzaddik Lephanai,” “Only you have I seen righteous before me” (BeReishit 7:1). From this we can learn that Hashem saw his righteousness, but no one else did. He was righteous before Hashem, but before no one else. This is not to say that he acted wickedly before the rest of the people, but rather merely that he avoided them, and in doing so he deprived them of the ability to learn from his good example. He was focused only on himself, so Hashem used that very idea in his subtle rebuke of Noach, shown by the word Lecha. Noach was the one good man in his generation, the one person who had a chance of influencing others to become better. Because of that, Hashem expected him to use his influence, and perhaps save some individuals or perhaps stop the flood entirely. In this, He was disappointed. Noach failed to reach anybody, failed to even try, and for this he required atonement. In life, all of us have certain skills, certain things that we are good at. One individual might be an excellent writer, another gifted in athletics. Of course, in life, there will also be others who are less skilled in certain areas, who would, perhaps, appreciate some aid or guidance in that particular department.  At times, we may be tempted to hoard, so to speak, our abilities, so that we will be of a singular nature, at least in our own minds, ignoring those who might benefit from our instruction. Let us learn from the Parasha, from the word Lecha, not to be that kind of person. If we have gifts, we should share them, if we have talents, we should show them. After all, they were given to us for a reason. 

Walk Before, Not Behind by Simcha Shron

Modesty and Morality by Rabbi Yoni Mandelstam