Saturday, 6 October 2018

Noach "Oppression Of One's Fellowman Is The Worst Sin"

Guest Post:
Cantor Richard Wolberg
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The Generation of the Flood rebelled against God's dominion. But the Torah itself informs us that it was not this rebellion that brought on the world's destruction. The immediate cause of the destruction was the oppression of man by his fellow.
Now the earth had become corrupt before God; and the world had become filled with oppression. (Genesis 6:12)
The Talmud learns from here that although the earth was totally corrupted by idolatry and immorality, the fate of the flood generation was only sealed for destruction because of acts of robbery and oppression. (Sanhedrin 108a)
God is endlessly tolerant of man's sins, but He listens to the cry of the oppressed, as we are taught:
You shall not cause pain to any widow or orphan. If you cause him [the orphan] pain ... if he shall cry out to Me, I shall surely hear his outcry. My wrath shall blaze and I shall kill you by the sword, and your wives will be widows and your children orphans. (Exodus 22:21-23)
God's anger must be ignited before He will consent to sit in judgment, and it only blazes when the cry of the oppressed reaches His ears. Once God assumes the seat of justice, He will administer retribution for all of man's sins, but unless He is prompted to do so by the cries of the oppressed, man can, in effect, do as he likes as God will never agree to sit in judgment.
This principle finds its strongest expression in the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the twin cities who are metaphors for evil and its consequences:
Now the people of Sodom were wicked and sinful towards God, exceedingly. (Genesis 13:13)
Yet, despite their evil, God only brought them to justice because of the outcry of an oppressed maiden.
"I will descend and see: if they act in accordance with this outcry, then destruction!" (Genesis 18:21)
The Midrash explains that this outcry, which prompted God to sit in judgment, was the scream released by Lot's daughter Plitas as she was cruelly murdered by the populace for having committed the crime of secretly feeding a pauper. (Pirkei d'R'Elazar, Ch.25)
The same thing had happened in the time of the generation that preceded the flood, and it was this kind of cruelty of man against man that led God to destroy the earth. If you want to really hurt God, then hurt your fellow man and it may be one of the last times you hurt anyone!

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