Noach – Inverted “Nun”

What is the meaning of the inverted nun-sofit (“final nun”) that appears at the end of our parsha?  Rashi says, “The nun sofit is upside-down to tell you that until Abram, God was angry with the world.”  However, it is difficult to see how the inverted letter conveys the concept of anger.  What Rashi wants to tell us is that the inverted letter is from the word charan, which aside from being the name of a city, also means “anger.”  Still, if the point of the inverted letter is to draw attention to a new era of history, un-encumbered by God’s anger, then why does it appear in a verse about Terach, Abram’s father?

In answer, we may have thought that God’s anger was directed at Terach.  So, the Torah inverted the letter in order to direct our attention away from Terach and his era, toward the next, following era in which Abram is the main protagonist.  It was when Abram came along that God’s anger was assuaged.  Therefore, the inverted nun informs us that the divine anger was not about Terach, but about the world in general. And it subsided when Abram was born (even though Terach was still alive at the time).

Still, why deal with the subject of anger at all?  We know that the generations preceding Abram were sinners (with the exception of Noach and a few others), so why discuss the subject?  Why do we need an upside-down nun to tell us what we should know anyway, that God was angry with the generations who transgressed His will?  The answer lies in the longevity of the people who lived during those generations.  We might ask, how could such sinners live such long lives?  This is a question for which we have no answer – God, in His inscrutable wisdom, gave them long life.  We might have thought that their longevity implied that they were not sinners – therefore, according to Rashi, we need the inverted nun to tell us that they were indeed sinners who angered God, before the advent of Abram.

For more on this subject, including a more detailed explanation plus the secret of charan according to kaballah, go to

From Likutei Sichot of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, vol 16, page 63-69

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