© 2017 by Shalom Magazine

Parsha Noah

   The Torah portion of Noah recounts the story of that the deluge which the Torah calls "the waters of Noah" (Mei Noach). This seems perplexing. Why the flood is named “the waters of Noah”?

   Noah was not at fault at all in bringing the flood, he was a righteous wholesome individual. The Zohar tells us that since Noah did not pray for his generation, the deluge was named after him.

Thus, even though Noah was not at fault in bringing the flood and was ultimately saved from it, he and his wife and children and their wives should have prayed to Hashem (G-d) to help their generation repent instead of isolating themselves in the Arc. Because Noach isolated himself in the Arc, even though he was commanded by Hashem (G-d) who said to Noach: "Come into the Arc" – since he did not pray and make an effort on behalf of his generation – he is given this harsh expression, namely that the flood is called by his name – “the flood of Noach.” In contrast, Moses did pray to Hashem (G-d) not to destroy the Jewish people saying if you want to destroy them “Mecheni” (erase me – which when descrambled in the Hebrew spells “the flood of Noach” - Mei Noah) from your book. From here we can each learn a valuable lesson. Even if you are righteous, even if you isolate yourself, and even under G-d’s command, if you are not mindful or care about and ignore your generation – if even about Noah who was righteous and lived before the giving of the Torah – such harsh words are said – so much more so after the giving of the Torah when all of Israel are connected to and responsible for one another – we much each think about our entire generation, and to pray even on behalf of those who have not yet decided to accept the Mitsvoth (commandments of the Torah) and thus help protect them. Only after one prays on behalf of others can he begin trying to help them observe the Torah. One should not be satisfied by his actions which are on his own behalf, but must also act on behalf of others. He should not be concerned whether he will ultimately be successful or not he simply has to do what is required of him as it says “why meddle in the secrets of the Merciful One.” Usually if one tries he will be successful. And the Torah promised that at the end of days Israel will repent and they will immediately be redeemed with the ultimate redemption.

   Noah worked very hard for an entire year in the Ark with real devotion. He had neither day nor night. Every minute was utilized to feed the thousands of wild animals, livestock, bugs and insects in the Ark. Noach reached the ultimate closeness to Hashem (G-d) when he offered a sacrificed and heard the promise that there will be no more flood. And that's it!!! As far as Noach was concerned the chapter of the flood was over. Done! "Everything is over now. I can finally get some rest," thought Noach. "Don't I deserve a little time off?" The message to take from this episode is that we must always keep moving forward in our lives. Everyone at his level, everyone with his personal service of Hashem (G-d). Do not stop! Do not give up! Keep advancing. Keep moving forward. There is no "vacation." Hashem (G-d) does not stop from wanting and searching for you, so you should never stop searching for Him. Any break taken because you feel you are done for the day will bring you lower than you ever expected.

  While Noah was a truly remarkable person – one who heroically maintained clarity and integrity in a drowning generation (drowning in denial long before the rains even descended) – there was one major challenge that he apparently did not succeed in. G-d had wanted him to reach out and share his understanding of the world with his contemporaries, in hopes that they would internalize the principle that those who don’t consider the future will not merit a future. And yet, whatever Noah’s reasons may have been: whether they stemmed from fear of repercussion and ridicule; self-doubt regarding his leadership credentials and charisma; or simply assuming his contemporaries wouldn’t listen anyway; he somehow seems to have avoided confrontation and opted for the path of least resistance.

Eventually, the flood arrived and decimated the rest of humanity, leaving Noah and all who came after him to ponder a profound, eternal message: that when people are involved in destructive behavior that onlookers perceive more objectively, the “Live and let Live” ideology becomes equivalent to a “Live and let Die” irresponsibility; that when dire consequences are on the line, the path of least resistance is actually tantamount to the path of most remissness. In this way, the flooding of humanity – tellingly referred to as the “Waters of Noah” – exposed the fatal flaw in the human assumption that we’re only held accountable for damage we cause directly. The Torah itself steers us away from this grave mistake, categorically commanding us to “not stand idly by the blood of (our) neighbor”.

                                                             Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi