55. "For in another seven days, I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights" (Beresheet 7:4). Rabbi Yehuda said: What is the meaning of these forty days and forty nights? These forty days are to strike the wicked of the world, as is written: "Forty strikes he may give him, and not exceed" (Devarim 25:3), corresponding to the four winds of the world, WHICH ARE THE SECRET OF CHOCHMAH, BINAH, TIFERET AND MALCHUT, As each one has ten, THERE ARE ALTOGETHER FORTY. For man was created from the four winds of the world. So, the verse continues: "And every living substance that I have made will I destroy from the face of the earth." Forty strikes are needed to destroy the world.
56. Rabbi Yitzchak was visiting Rabbi Shimon, and he asked him about the verse that states: "And the earth was corrupt before the Elohim" (Beresheet 6:11). Now, if it was man who sinned and was corrupt, what was the earth's sin? Rabbi Shimon answered, as it is written: "For all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth" (Ibid.) and, also, "And the land was defiled, therefore I do punish its iniquity upon it" (Vayikra 18:25). So it is mankind that sins. But if you ask what is the sin of the earth, you should know that mankind constitutes the essence of the earth. If mankind corrupts it, it becomes corrupted. This is proven by the verse: "And Elohim looked on the earth, and, beheld it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth."
57. Come and behold: all of man's sins and corruption can be atoned for by repentance. But by the sin of spilling his seed on the earth, man corrupts himself and the earth as well. And of such a person, it is written: "The stain of your iniquity is before Me," (Yirmeyah 2:22) and "For You are not an El that has pleasure in wickedness, nor shall evil sojourn with You" (Tehilim 5:5). THIS MEANS THAT A PERSON WHO WASTES HIS SEMEN ON THE EARTH IS CALLED EVIL, AND HE SHALL NOT SOJOURN ANYMORE WITH THE HOLY ONE, BLESSED BE HE. IN OTHER WORDS, HE SHALL NOT ACCEPT HIS REPENTANCE, except after great penitence. It is also written that "Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of Hashem; and Hashem slew him" (Beresheet 38:7), as was explained earlier.
58. He asked him: Why did the Holy One, blessed be He, bring His Judgment on the world - NAMELY, THE GENERATION OF THE FLOOD - punishing them with water and not with fire or something else? Rabbi Shimon replied that there is a secret behind this. As they corrupted their ways, the upper waters and the lower waters were unable to join as the male and the female ought. Anyone who corrupts his ways also corrupts the male and female waters. THIS MEANS THAT HE CAUSES A DEFECT IN THE MALE AND FEMALE WATERS, PREVENTING THEM FROM BEING CONNECTED WITH EACH OTHER. So, they were punished by water, just as they had sinned.
59. These waters were boiling and they skinned them alive, just like they corrupted their ways in boiling water, one Judgment for another, MEANS THAT HE PUNISHED THEM MEASURE FOR MEASURE. "All the fountains of the great deep broke open" (Beresheet 7:11), refers to the lower waters, while "and the windows of heaven were opened" refers to the upper waters. THUS THEY WERE PUNISHED BY both - upper and lower waters.
60. Rabbi Chiya and Rabbi Yehuda were walking on their way. Reaching some great mountains, they found human bones that belonged to the generation of the Flood. They walked alongside one of these bones, which measured three hundred steps. Astonished, they said to each other: This clarifies what our friends have said, that they did not fear the Judgment of the Holy One, blessed be He, as it is written: "They said to El, depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of Your ways" (Iyov 21:14). So what did they do? They clogged the fountains of the deep with their feet. But the waters were too hot, and when they could no longer bear it, they slipped, fell on the ground, and eventually died.