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Parshas Noach - Living to See the Day              3 Cheshvan 5783

10/28/2022 09:00:59 AM


This Dvar Torah is in memory of Yehoshua Heshel Ben Yehuda Leib z”l

Over the Yom Tov of Sukkos, we read the book of Koheles where Shlomo HaMelech writes        "דור הולך ודור בא" “a generation goes and a new generation comes”. With the passing of my father, Reb Yehoshua Heshel ben Yehuda Leib, Mr. Edward Bogopulsky z”l, a link to the previous generations has been severed. The following is not a “Chiddush”, something novel; rather it will hopefully remind us all, creating  a deeper awareness of what happens to everyone over time. I am connected to my grandfather, someone who was born in the 1800’s, through my father. When my grandfather died, the connection to that world was severed. Now, the historical connection that my children and grandchildren, who loved and knew my father, born in 1930, has been severed. My grandchildren will have a new historical perspective from the 1960’s. It takes the passing of someone who may have been a great grandfather, to more profoundly enable us to look back at the wisdom and sacrifice of the previous generation. Unfortunately, wisdom from the older generation is not only not passed down; but it can be outrightly ignored and even, at times, shunned. People are meant to learn from the past, yet too often fail to  see the benefit to them. Therefore…..  

The phrase “history repeats itself” and therefore what we learn from history is a lesson meant for the young. Unfortunately, however, that is rarely the case. It takes maturity to recognize the need to learn from our past, and usually a younger person looks at that part of history as irrelevant to the present, disregarding the lessons to be learned. Please take note that the “younger person” does not necessarily come with a certain age; rather, it is just a “younger person” who should take the time (and make the effort) to learn from the older generation at all ages and stages of life. Sometimes a person, as he or she ages, comes to understand and appreciate the lessons, teachings, and messages that their parents and grandparents endeavored to imbue within them. In many cases, lessons of life are taught with words, but perhaps the best teaching is through being a role model. My father, הרני כפרת משכבו and mother זכרונה לברכה taught more by action rather than by speech. My wife, our children, and I learned lifelong lessons from my parents. With the passing of my father, I feel that one of the most important mitzvos and certainly one of the two mitzvos the Torah states - its reward, as in כיבוד אב ואם ,no longer apply. That may be the case in other religions, but in Judaism the Mitzva of honoring your mother and father continues to be your mitzva until you are no longer able to  do it. My father was niftar on the day we completed the Torah and started again from the beginning. The book of Bereishis is also known in the English as Genesis. The word Genesis is a translation from a different name of the first book of the Torah known as Sefer HaAvos, the Book of our Fathers. It is a sefer which focuses on the teachings of our forefathers.    

The book of Bereishis or Sefer HaAvos, the Book of Our Fathers, describes the building of families after the world came into existence. In a few different places in Bereishis, the Torah goes out of its way to list several genealogical generations. The word Toldos – generations - is frequently used throughout the first book of the Torah. The beginning of this week’s Parsha uses the word ‘Toldos’. The Torah in Bereishis 6:9 states: "אלה תולדות נח, נח איש צדיק תמים היה בדרתיו את האלוקים התהלך נח"  “These are the chronicles of Noach. Noach was a righteous man, faultless in his generation, and Noach walked with God.” Rashi comments, ”Since it [scripture] mentions him [Noach], it relates his praise, as it is said in Mishlei 10:7 זכר צדיק :לברכה  the memory of the righteous shall be for a blessing. We learn from here that when a Tzadik’s name is mentioned, we must bless him. So too, when a person mentions his or her parents after they die, one must honor them. Within the first twelve months we say הריני כפרת משכבו  -I will be an atonement for them, and after twelve months we say זכרונו/ה לברכה : their memory should be a blessing.

I mentioned earlier that there are two mitzvos  where the reward is revealed in the Torah: honoring your mother and father and Shiluach HaKein - sending away the mother bird. Many ask, why is the reward for honoring your parents’ a long life? I saw in one of my favorite seforim on the laws of Kibbud Av VaEim, written by a great talmid Chacham Rav Zvi Aryeh Solomon, the following footnote (Siman 3 page 29) that perhaps sheds some light on my question. He explains  it is worthy to point out the mitzva of honoring your father and mother is unique among all 613 mitzvos in that not only can you, but you must honor your parents when they are alive and even after they pass away. Even when our parents go to their world, we cannot think we are finished with this mitzva. We honor them by leading exemplary lives, learning Torah, fulfilling mitzvos, or, heaven forbid, disgrace them by not doing those things mentioned. When people look at us for good or for bad, this serves as a reflection upon from whom we have come.  Therefore, we still must maintain giving our parents honor, albeit in a different way then when they were alive, but nevertheless the mitzva of honoring our parents continues on. Perhaps I’ll suggest that so long as we perform the mitzva of honoring our parents, Hashem will give us more time in this world to continue to honor our parents, hence giving us longer life.

Just remembering our parents, however, is the safeguarding, or passive method, but the proactive is “to do something” in their memory. If we act in a positive manner, that will influence others to follow the ways of the Torah and become more committed Jews. This is the greatest honor we can give a parent, especially after they have passed on to the next world. The influencing and teaching of Torah and giving proper derech eretz to others is important. Perhaps the most effective and highest form of honor to our parents is when the continuity of Torah and Mitzvos continues on through the generations and future generations who issue from them. I and my extended family hope to fulfill the mitzva of Kibbud Av VaEim, to honor our parents, their grandparents and great grandparents and continue down the line until the time of Techiyas HaMeisim ,when we will once again fulfill the Mitzva in person during their lifetime.        

Fri, December 8 2023 25 Kislev 5784