Hashem instructs Noach—the only righteous man in a world consumed by violence and corruption—to build a large wooden teivah (“ark”), coated within and without with pitch. A great deluge, says Hashem, will wipe out all life from the face of the earth; but the ark will float upon the water, sheltering Noach and his family, and two members (male and female) of each animal species.
Rain falls for 40 days and nights, and the waters churn for 150 days more before calming and beginning to recede. The teiva settles on Mount Ararat, and from its window Noach dispatches a raven, and then a series of doves, “to see if the waters were abated from the face of the earth.” When the ground dries completely—exactly one solar year (365 days) after the onset of the Flood—Hashem commands Noach to exit the teivah and repopulate the earth.
Noach builds an altar and offers sacrifices to Hashem. Hashem swears never again to destroy all of mankind because of their deeds, and sets the rainbow as a testimony of His new covenant with man. Hashem also commands Noach regarding the sacredness of life: murder is deemed a capital offense, and while man is permitted to eat the meat of animals, he is forbidden to eat flesh or blood taken from a living animal.
Noach plants a vineyard and becomes drunk on its produce. Two of Noach’s sons, Shem and Yafes, are blessed for covering up their father’s nakedness, while his third son, Cham, is punished for taking advantage of his debasement.
The descendants of Noach remain a single people, with a single language and culture, for ten generations. Then they defy their Creator by building a great tower to symbolize their own invincibility; Hashem confuses their language so that “one does not comprehend the tongue of the other,” causing them to abandon their project and disperse across the face of the earth, splitting into seventy nations.
The Parshah of Noach concludes with a chronology of the ten generations from Noach to Avram (later Avraham), and the latter’s journey from his birthplace of Ur Casdim to Charan, on the way to the land of Canaan.
A sin isn’t Mitzvah!
Remember "The earth was corrupt before Hashem, and the earth was filled with violence" (Bereishis 6:11)
Rav Mordechai Rogov points out that the above pasuk could have easily been written, "The earth was corrupt and was filled with violence". Why did it need to specify that it was corrupt "before Hashem"?
He answers, when a person sins and at least recognizes what he did was a sin, then there is always hope for him. However, when a person sins and has no doubt that his sin was really not a sin and he can stand before Hashem without any fear, then there are problems.
Had the generation of Noach sinned, that would be one thing. However, when they sinned "before G-d", then there was no hope for them.
It is human nature to justify oneself to avoid admitting that one has done wrong. Somebody once directed me to a blog where the author spends his entire time attacking individuals and communities which he either doesn't know well, understand, or agree with. Why do he and his commentators dedicate so much of their time attacking others and speaking loshon horah? He will freely admit that he does these things (of course it's not loshon horah according to him), in order to seek out the 'truth'. He does it L'Shem Shamiyim (for the Sake of Heaven).
How could a person have a blog where 9 out of 10 posts are attacking other individuals and groups who are different from him? How could he have open comments where anybody is free to speak whatever [loshon horah] they want about other people?
The answer is, he fell into the same trap we all do. Our sins are not really sins! What we are doing is really a mitzvah! It’s for the sake of Heaven! Once we fall into that trap, it’s very difficult to climb out.
This power of the Yetzer Horah is extremely strong and affects everybody. At least by acknowledging and recognizing this trap, we can keep our eyes out. As long as we stay away from sinning "before Hashem", justifying our behavior without any remorse, we stand a far better chance of doing proper tshuvah.
Of course, try to stay away from blogs that don't help you in your relationship with Hashem, and all the more so, those who do the opposite. That's another good lesson to learn out.
Have a great Shabbos!