And they're even more fascinating now when seen through the lens of our Sages.
So even when it's not Parshat Noach (which really begins at the end of Parshat Beresheit), I'm still eager to learn about & discuss it.
(All of the following has been extracted from the Me'am Lo'ez.)
Abortion is the Destructive Solution, Not the Compassionate Solution
Several types existed, however this post focuses on one type: the Nefilim.
Chazal offers several reasons for their name. The root of Nefilim is nafal—falling. They were so tall, they looked like they were falling.
In the preceding verse (verse 4), the Torah writes Nefilim as if it reads nafalim—aborted infants.
The Me'am Lo'ez notes that with all the wanton behavior occurring in that generation, illegitimate pregnancies became common.
To save themselves from the shame of an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, these pregnant single women were given drugs to induce abortion.
(Modern society credits itself with the invention of a pill to induce abortion, but Torah commentaries show people already invented it thousands of years ago.)
So in addition to reading the verse as "the Nefilim were in the land," the Me'am Lo'ez reads it as "the aborted infants were in the earth": "The earth was literally filled with them."
This reminds me of the dumpsters behind abortion clinics, filled with the remains of aborted babies.
Pro-life activists sometimes sneak into these dumpsters to photograph the gruesome remains of abortions carried out on an unborn baby developed enough to adopt human form.
The activists are accused of using gruesome shock tactics, but they're merely photographing the reality of abortion.
(BTW, I'm against using the photos out in public, like on the sidewalk, for the same reason I'm against any gruesome or indecent image randomly assaulting the eyes of the public. But using these photos during an official presentation is correct.)
Another reason for abortion was because the regular women fell in love with the giants of that time, but could not physically bear such large children.
So they aborted them.
Pre-Flood Flaunting—Just Like Now
One bizarre aspect of that generation was that when they first heard about the punishment in store for their world, they responded by intensifying their corrupt behavior.
Again, this reminds me of the "Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die!" attitude prevalent today.
Also, in the "End of the World" genre, characters sometimes respond by committing depraved acts because "now's our chance!"
So upon hearing about the upcoming punishment, people engaged in every kind of depravity, including men with men or with animals. They even performed wedding ceremonies to legitimize these depraved relationships.
Women made themselves up and displayed themselves in the streets, seeking out wanton liaisons.
Men fathered many children without marriage, producing offspring all over the world.
Again and again, the Me'am Lo'ez emphasizes the lack of shame in that society. People did all the above without shame.
On the contrary, they reveled in their debauchery.
We see all this in our time.
With all the formality of the British royal family, I was surprised to read about the future king of England publicly shacking up with his significant other—the future queen of England—prior to their engagement.
Also, because she has since proven herself to be a paradigm of propriety, fitting so well into her royal role as Duchess-Princess, it's still weird to me that they were so lackadaisical prior to marriage—and especially prior to their engagement.
Yes, I know the royal families have always been immoral & hypocritical, but flaunting impropriety rather than keeping it private shows a huge crack in social norms.
After all, "all the best people are doing it." So why shouldn't everyone?
What's more, you have all these European princesses willfully producing children outside the framework of marriage—their only concern whether these children inherit a title or not.
And with all the out-of-wedlock children & loose behavior pre-Flood, why did shame motivate women to abort?
After all, it's clear that generation commonly produced children outside of marriage.
Perhaps it's like today: An unwanted pregnancy is considered an easily preventable mistake in the mid-to-upper classes.
That stratum of society considers accidentally impregnated females stupid, not only because they got pregnant in the first place, but because they carry the baby to term when a practical "solution" (abortion) is so easily available to them.
So you rarely see a mid-to-upper class woman carrying an unwanted baby to term in the USA.
They either use contraception or abortion.
Attention Climate Change Activists!: Natural Disasters aren't So Natural
He flooded two-thirds of the world twice in Enosh's time.
He brought great earthquakes in the mountains, which placed the world in darkness—could this mean ash from eruptions?
He produced constant thunder and lightening.
When Metushelach died, the Sun rose in the West and set in the East (rather than its usual East-West path). But people insisted it was just a natural phenomenon.
He sent Noach to warn people.
But nothing helped.
Again, we see all this now.
Hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, fires, disease, and flooding always bring calls to carry out useless gestures to reverse "global warming" and/or calls to impeach President Trump.
But these natural disasters never bring calls for repentance (unless you happen to be in a religious community).
The Danger of Too Much Luxury & Freedom
They felt rich, untouchable, and strong.
They scoffed at the need for Hashem, even to bring rain. Because they lived surrounded by an abundance of water wells, they felt like, "What do we need God for?" (That attitude is SO characteristic of today!)
They were strong—and also very healthy. They suffered no disease.
Wheat kernels grew as big as melons, then Hashem sent a wind to blow them off onto the ground so people needn't thresh the wheat nor go digging around for tiny kernels.
But instead of feeling grateful to Hashem for all that free time & ease, and instead of utilizing that ease & freedom to build a relationship with Hashem, people used these gifts to sink into decadence & depravity.
Seven days before the Flood, Hashem changed the Sun's path to rise in the West and set in the East.
During that 7-day period, Hashem allowed that generation to experience such great pleasure, it approached the delights of the World to Come!
(He did that so the destruction of the Flood would cause them even more distress, coming after such pleasure.)
This is also similar to today.
Even though before covid-19, many people felt stressed out, but a lot of that stress related to acquisition.
The truth is that even poor people in America live better than rich people did 2 centuries ago.
Cars, electricity, indoor plumbing, supermarket aisles full of everything to meet your needs in all different flavors—even $1 stores provide so much.
And the Internet brought great pleasure straight to one's fingertips.
Free movies, free games, free music—whether legal or not, it's all there & oh-so easy to access.
"Hi, This is Cindy from Dor HaMabul Reporting to You Live..."
(Please see page 10 of this PDF.)
I think we're seeing this now.
The similarities between their generation & ours are too great to dismiss.
Interestingly, Chazal also says that the Generation of the Flood has no part in the World to Come.
I guess that means they cease to exist, including on the soul-level.
But they exist right now. They're all around us.
The reason why we need to maintain this awareness is because the same people who set societal norms & values for us today are the same people who horribly corrupted the world several thousand years ago.
And they're doing it again.
These people have NO future. When they die, that's it for them.
Do we really want to get caught up with such people?
Where are they taking us?
Around 4000 years ago, these same souls danced down a path of revelry & abandon that led to unimaginable destruction.
And they're doing it again.
Let's step off their path & travel our own, even if our path doesn't seem as smooth.
Our path leads in the right direction—to Geula.
Their path leads toward destruction.