Dvar Torah Parshat Noach 2008 5679 דבר תורה פרשת נח

After Noach exited from the ark we are told that Hashem made a commitment to Himself that He would never again bring a flood upon the world to destroy mankind. The reason given for this assurance is because: YETZER LEV HA’ADAM RA MINE’URAV, “for the inclination in man is evil from his youth.” (Gen. 8,21) Most Biblical commentaries take this to mean that man’s inclination by nature is evil.

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, the leader of the Orthodox German community in the 19th century, had a different unique interpretation of this passage in his commentary on the Pentateuch.

He explains that the Hebrew word for youth is NA’AR. This word comes from the root which means to shake off. A young person is neither good nor evil. He easily “shakes off” impressions and does not want to be bound by duty or obligations. He “shakes off” any restrictions and that gives the impression that he is evil. As he ages he begins to learn that he has obligations and no longer casts them off.

What is implied in this explanation is that man is not evil. He may start off objecting to restrictions and obligations but as he grows he learns their need. The sooner he understands this the quicker he matures.

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