Why did the World Need 'Rebirthing'?
R. Ze'ev Friedlander
The story of the Flood is so ingrained that we may not realize the fact the world was created a second time in Parshat Noach. It took close to two thousand years, but it is clear that Hashem destroyed the world and started over a second time. Two questions beg to be asked: 1. Why was G-d's first creation doomed to destruction? 2. Why hasn't it happened a second time?
To answer the first question, it would greatly help to try and pinpoint the major turning point in Parsha Bereishit, when Hashem decides to terminate Creation. In Parshat Bereishit (6:5-7), the Torah clearly states Hashem's decision to destroy the world. The beginning of that perek introduces us to the "Bnei HaElohim": "The Bnei HaElohim saw that the daughters of Man were good [tovot], and they took women for themselves, from all that they chose." Who are these 'Bnei HaElohim'? There are two separate opinions found in Chazal – the pshat and the drash. We will deal with the pshat now, but later on we will mention the other opinion.
Rashi explains, according to the Midrash, that they were the sons of the ministers and judges – i.e. the important people. We can add this insight: They were not simply important people - they were immense and awesome people of great stature and personality. The type of people that made everyone else quiver at their sight. Any command that left their mouth was immediately and completely obeyed without any objection or resistance. They were people who were similar to Adam HaRishon, who was created by G-d Himself. They were great and powerful people who could do anything they wanted. Rashi, on the above mentioned pasuk, points this out in the clearest way: "Rabbi Yudan states – 'tovat' [written without the vav letters – this is to tell us that they were not really beautiful, but rather] when they were beautifying her, all made-up to go to the Chupah, a great one [ref. Bnei HaElohim] would first come in and have relations with her. (Bereishit Rabbah)". Nobody said or did anything to stop this – they were completely powerless to do anything. They were extremely powerful individuals who did not depend on anyone else. They could take anything they needed. As the saying goes: "Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely." The "chamas," the forceful abuse of taking whatever one wanted, permeated through the ranks of people and even into the animal and vegetable kingdoms. (See the Gemara Sanhedrin 108 and the Beit HaLevi on Parshat Noach). This was the downfall of the first world.
I think that it is now plain why the world was doomed to destruction. G-d Himself had created the world and Adam HaRishon. He created a perfect person. All those similar to Adam wielded immense power – power that led them in one direction – down. (We will see that there was one man (ish) that wielded immense power — and was yet able to direct it in a positive direction.)
To deal with the second question, I can almost hear people shouting that the answer is elementary and simple: Hashem promised never to destroy the world again!
Unfortunately, this is not the answer I am looking for. I am asking rather: "What did Hashem do to ensure that the world would never get to the same situation where it deserves to be destroyed?"
Many people have heard of the concept 'Rebirthing'. Simply stated, it is the understanding that some problematic behavior [specifically between mother and child] can be traced back to the original birth process and therefore rectified by 're-creating' the birthing process and working through it. (I have stated fact here, not opinion). When the world was created a second time, it was [almost] a natural process. Nothing was created by G-d's Hand directly. The animal world descended from the original animals that were saved in the Ark. Noach also took seeds into the Ark with him to recreate some of the world's vegetation that was also wiped out. (According to Chazal in the Midrash, no rain fell in Eretz Yisrael and that is why some trees and vegetation survived the Deluge. The olive tree, from which a leaf was brought, was in Eretz Yisrael.)
The Creation, now removed from G-d somewhat, is able to exist. We have seen a similar pattern to this process - with Am Yisrael. After the Sin of the Golden Calf, Hashem wanted to destroy Am Yisrael and replace them with a new nation that would stem solely from Moshe Rabbeinu. (Parshat Ki Tisa (32:10). See Menachem Leibtag's shiur on the 13 Midot HaRachamim (www.tanach.org on Yamim Nora'im shiur #1) where he explains that the original terms of the covenant between Hashem and Am Yisrael at Sinai were so harsh that any deviation [like a Golden Calf, for instance] deserved immediate death and destruction. After Moshe achieved forgiveness from Hashem, the original covenant is abolished and a second covenant is established based on the 13 Midot HaRachamim, thus allowing Am Yisrael to survive. The first covenant (symbolized by the much loftier First Tablets), is annulled (or smashed, as was the case) and replaced by a second covenant (and Second, human-hand molded, Tablets).
It is interesting to note that Moshe Rabbeinu ['HaIsh Moshe'] is perhaps the person who was "metakein" ('corrected') the original destruction. Firstly, there is the connection that we have just mentioned, where Hashem wanted to destroy the whole nation and Moshe prevented it. But a closer connection is found in the final Midrash of Midrash Rabbah Devarim: In the astonishing dialogue that takes place between Hashem and Moshe's soul, who refuses to leave Moshe's body because it is the most pure body in the world. The soul explains that Moshe was even holier than the angels Uza and Uza'el who were the Bnei HaElohim who came down to earth and took daughters of Man as mates and defiled themselves (according to the Drash explanation of the concept) – whereas Moshe separated from his wife after Hashem spoke to him for the first time at the Burning Bush. (See this amazing Midrash in Midrash Rabbah Devarim 11:10 at end). In this way, Moshe ascended spiritually in that which the Bnei HaElohim failed in.
The final 'safety precaution' that Hashem put into place was to limit Man's existence on this world to 120 years. (This was also Moshe's exact age – see Rashi on the 2nd Pasuk in Vayeilech, "I am 120 years old today" exactly today.) With such a [relatively] short life span, no man can conceivably exist completely independently. We are all reliant one on another, nations on other nations etc. No one can achieve complete autonomy any more, to rise to the immense power of influence that the Bnei HaElohim had. "My spirit shall not always strive on account of man, for that ('beshagam') he also is flesh" – Chazal tell us "beshagam – in gematria (numerical equivalent) is 'Moshe.'" Moshe is the one that will correct the "sins of flesh" and give life to the new world [the Torah] and his nation.
To sum up, we asked two questions: Why was the creation doomed to destruction? How did Hashem make sure that it would never happen again? We answered that G-d's direct involvement in the creation and subsequent proximity to it, could only lead to the most extreme behavior that is possible from Man, which led him sharply downward. This is similar to Am Yisrael who reached the pinnacle of existence when hearing the Ten Commandments, and then fell to the deepest depths of making the Golden Calf. In order for this to never happen again, Hashem 'distanced' Himself for the second creation (a natural process of development followed) and also limited Man's lifespan to 120 years. Lastly, when Hashem gave His most powerful 'tool' to the world (through Am Yisrael), His messenger was the only man who was able to deal with such great power and not be corrupted, and that was Moshe Rabbeinu.
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