The following is a brief summary of some of thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.
In Bereishis 7:4, Hashem tells Noach that in seven more days He will send the rains and flood the Earth. In the following pasuk, the Torah writes that Noach did according to what Hashem asked him to do.
R' Frand observed that the obvious interpretation of the pasuk would be that Noach built the ark. However, Rashi explains that it means that Noach came to the ark. This interpretation is troubling and the Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh asks - why would we need a pasuk to hint that Noach came to the ark? It is explicitly stated in 7:7 that Noach came to the ark with his family (wife, sons, their wives). The Maharal and Ibn Ezra explain that Rashi means that Noach came up to, but did not enter the ark.
R' Frand then digressed to discuss a point made by the Tollner Rebbi who was quoting the Radumsker Rebbi in the sefer R' Tiferes Shlomo. He noted that the Medrash has two recitations of people asking Shem why he and his family were saved from the flood. In one instance, Shem tells Avraham that he does not know why, but that the entire year they were on the ark they worked night and day to feed the animals. A second recounting involves a conversation between Eliezer and Shem where Shem tells Eliezer that the work was excessively difficult because some animals ate only by day while others were nocturnal.
The lesson taught by Shem is that they were saved because they were merachem - showed mercy to the animals. When a person acts in a merciful way, he influences Hashem to be merciful to him. By spending (literally) day and night caring for the animals, the occupants of the ark gave Hashem a reason to be merciful to them.
R' Frand next quoted a famous ma'amar chazal that when Hashem releases the mashchis - the angel of death - the angel does not differentiate between the tzaddik and the rasha. He connected this with a quotation [which I unfortunately did not get the source of] which asked why did the people die in the flood and was answered - because they stole from one and other. But this is contrary to the plain meaning of the pesukim that they were killed because they engaged in immoral relations and even influenced the animals to do the same. So why does it say that the flood came because of the thefts?
R' Frand answered that if the people had only engaged in immoral relations, Hashem might have not destroyed the world in one shot, or even might have punished in a less severe manner. However, because the people did not show respect towards each other and their belongings, Hashem did not need to alter or delay His plan. Since no one was merciful to his neighbor, Hashem had no reason to be merciful either.
R' Frand then tied this back to the Rashi which stated that Noach went up to the ark.. In so doing, Noach indicated that he was separating himself from the people of his generation who were not merciful or considerate of others. Once he began to show mercy towards the animals, he gave a reason to be saved from the mashchis.
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