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Rabbi Jonathan Ganger
by Published on October 23, 2020

What went so wrong that the world needed to start over? The stated reason is because of robbery. As some explain, if even something as logical as property rights were lost, then the world could not be sustained.  Slightly more hidden in the verses is that humans had ‘destroyed’ the world. That hints at more severe problems such as murder, idolatry, and sexual immorality- the three cardinal sins.  However, what was behind that? Why did human beings descend to such chaos? 

              There is a hint to what went wrong in the aftermath of the flood.  G-d decides to change the way things operate in the world. There is strange verse that says, “So long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” According to one commentary, it is an introduction to seasons. Prior to the flood the world was not seasonal; it was always temperate. Life spans were extremely long and the midrash says people would seed once and harvest for forty years straight. Why would the introduction of seasons help to alleviate these problem that caused the flood in the first place? Also, why does the verse emphasize the putting together of opposites?  And lastly, why does the verse have the word/letter (vav) 'and' inserted 6 times when it only needed three? 

              Anything that is only one dimensional inherently lacks balance and wholeness. For example, a person who is always giving to others is amenable to become a doormat if he doesn’t learn how to put a boundary. A person who is constantly concerned about boundaries will not create relationships.  The antediluvian world was a world of extremes. There was extremely long life, extremely good weather, extremely fertile soil.  A life of extremes creates chaos and confusion and the world was destroyed with a water that had no boundaries.  Post the flood, the world changed.  Boundaries were introduced via the bonding of opposites. Opposites can only exist together when things are defined and strong unto themselves.  Then they can come together and create a greater whole and balance than was before. That is the world we need to create now.  We need to bring opposites together and view them as not threatening our perspective but as balancing out our perspective.  That is what creates permanence in the world. 

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