Noah (Parsha Insights – The Sages of Mussar)

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After being saved from the great flood, Noah, uncharacteristically, drank wine and became intoxicated. Due to his drunken state, he fell asleep when he was unclothed. His son, Cham, saw that his father was uncovered and disgraced Noah.

Shem and Yafes,  Noah’s other sons, heard of  Noah’s predicament, and attended to their father with great honor. Each son took the corner of a blanket and walked backwards, covering their father, with their eyes turned away from Noah’s nakedness.

This incident reveals the base nature of  Cham, in contrast to the dignified nature of  Shem and Yafes. Cham fell to one of the pitfalls of human nature, i.e., judging and censuring others for their flaws. When he noticed a blemish in his father, he dismissed all of his numerous good qualities and classified him as a “lowly drunkard.”

In contradistinction to Cham’s pitiful reaction, the sterling character of Shem and Yafes prompted them to act in a noble manner. Not only did they not belittle their father’s uncomplimentary behavior, they turned their face away to avoid looking upon Noah’s shame. Even more, they immediately took action to “cover up” his disgrace. 

The exemplary conduct of  Shem and Yafes illuminates the high path of interpersonal relationships.  Specifically, they committed themselves to always seeing the good in others, NEVER giving credence to negative spots.

In addition, they made noble efforts to “cover over” the flaws of others – crowning their fellow with redemption, dignity, and peace.  May we learn from their goodly ways to uplift ourselves and all of those with whom we are associated.   

Today: Focus on seeing a full measure of GOOD – in yourself – and others.

Copyright © 2010 by Rabbi Zvi Miller and the Salant Foundation

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