“Now the Earth was corrupt before Hashem and the Earth became full of robbery.” (Bereishis 6:11)

 The Gemara (Bava Metzia 44b) discusses someone who comes to buy fruit. If he has handed over money to buy fruit [i.e., it is understood that he will buy it], but did not yet take possession of the fruit, technically he still can change his mind. However, Chazal warn, the same One Who exacted punishment from the Dor Hamabul, the generation of the flood, will exact punishment from the man who doesn’t stand behind his word.

What possible connection is there between the sins of the Dor Hamabul to those of someone who doesn’t stand by his word? (Rav Shach, Meirosh Amanah)

It was the first night of Succos, after the seudah. My niece Esty had just come to seminary, and she and my girls were sprawled with me across the couches, having one of those deep, never-ending philosophical debates: raising kids in chutz l’Aretz or Eretz Yisrael. It wasn’t a fair battle since Esty was outnumbered, but she was giving it her best.

My husband was learning in the succah off our laundry room where everything was still and peaceful, the soft scent of pine wafting in through the dining room windows.

Then an explosion pierced the air.

Esty was the first off the couch. “OMG, was that a bomb?!”

We shrieked and of course disobeyed all security rules by running in the direction of the noise instead of away from it. My husband came dashing in from the succah and we all converged in the laundry room, seeking the source of the blast.

Yet everything seemed peaceful; even the boys were still slumbering peacefully in the succah, their mumbled snorts and snores providing a soft musical interlude.

Chazal tell us that Dor Hamabul didn’t steal outright in public. The Midrash says that they stole less than a prutah, a small coin, meaning they were careful not to transgress the letter of the law. [Halachically, stealing less than a prutah does not constitute the actual transgression of stealing.] They acted like people who were educated and cultured, way above some lowlife who would take something that didn’t belong to him without paying.

But Hashem knows what lies deep inside man’s heart, and He saw how completely corrupted they were.

Therefore, the lashon of the pasuk above emphasizes the words, “The land was corrupted before Hashem.” The people themselves maintained their outward innocence and didn’t consider themselves corrupted. It was only Hashem Who observed how deeply the land was corrupted.

We were standing puzzled in the quiet laundry room when Esty suddenly spotted a purple river making its way toward her shoes. Jumping aside, I peeked into the laundry room comer. There was a bubbling spring of deep purple liquid streaming down the floor amid a huge pile of shattered glass.

Was that blood? Maybe it really had been a bomb!

I’m a brave soul, so I peered forward and saw two closed boxes of grape juice that we’d ordered right before Yom Tov. They sat neatly in the corner. Or rather one box sat neatly; the other was a soggy smashed mess with shards of glass poking out of its sides and burbling grape juice continuously pouring onto the floor.

First responder that I was, I continued my investigation by poking my nose into the box. There were two new closed bottles missing from the previously sealed box. Their contents were now bubbling merrily across our laundry room, carrying shards of glass and paper.

“Looks like they fermented and exploded.”

“But they’re brand-new! We didn’t even open the box yet.”

“Go tell that to Louis Pasteur. Those bottles were clearly fermented.”

The True Judge will come and exact judgment from a person who’s not careful and doesn’t stand by his word, even if he looks outwardly like he’s righteous and upright, as we see from what happened to the Dor Hamabul.

Since it was Yom Tov, I was left with the sticky mess until Chol Hamoed, when I battled with fruit flies and glass shards and a sweet, sticky floor. It must be a segulah for a sweet year!

After Yom Tov we called the distributor. He reacted with typical denial: “Can’t be. Never happened before. Those were brand-new bottles.”

We didn’t bother arguing, but we couldn’t resist ending the conversation with a play on Chazal’s words: “Don’t judge the juice by the bottle.”

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 612)