This week’s Parsha is named for Noah who survived the Great Flood. We learn the reason for the Flood in Genesis ch. 6 v. 13, where G-d tells Noah that he is ending humanity, “..because the earth is filled with robbery …”
The 11th century French commentator Rashi explains that although the generation of the great flood was steeped in every kind of vice, their fate was sealed only because of the sin of robbery. Why was this so?
The 19th century Rabbi of Lvov, Rabbi Yosef Shaul Nathanson, explains with the following parable: A pelican went to catch fish in the sea. Thrusting its beak into the waters, he caught hold of a large squirming fish. “Please let me go – don’t kill me” said the fish, “take pity on me, a creature formed by the Almighty Himself.” The pelican was about to release the fish when he noticed that in its mouth was a smaller fish – obviously about to be swallowed. “What a fraud you are”, said the pelican. “Why should I take pity on you and not eat you, when you yourself were prepared to do the same to this little fish?”
Says Rabbi Nathanson: “No matter how serious the sins of this generation, G-d was prepared to deal mercifully with them; but when they themselves showed no mercy to others, when they robbed others without the least compunction, they lost all claim to merciful treatment. The Flood was the. punishment for all their sins, but it was the sin of robbery that sealed their fate.