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  • Rav Moshe Weiss

Nahar U'Pashtei Parshas Noach

Updated: Nov 1, 2020

Noach’s Journey

Much has been said about Noach’s spiritual level, both in contrasting his madreigah with that of Avraham Aveinu, as well as in merely attempting to gain a true perspective of this great man. We know that Noach found favor in the eyes of Hashem; his quest to serve Hashem created a special bond that caused Hashem to spare him from the mabul, and we know that he was chosen to be the “father” of the new world after its cleansing. The posuk in the beginning of the parshah calls Noach both a tzaddik and a tamim. A tzaddik refers to a person who is righteous; who acts correctly. All of a tzaddik’s actions are upright and wholesome. A tamim refers to someone who is able to impart his beliefs and ideals to the masses just by virtue of who is preaching them. The reputation of a tamim alone causes his influence to spread, without conflict with those around him. Such a man gives off the impression of greatness and confidence that is needed to spread Hashem’s Name throughout the world. Why then, does the Torah refer to Noach as both of these things? Was he a tamim, or was he “only” a tzaddik? And to take the query one step further, isn’t the difference between Avraham and Noach rooted in this very fact? Avraham possessed the spiritual prowess needed to spread ruchniyus to many followers, while Noach did not do so. If Noach was truly a tamim, why was he not successful in convincing people to improve their ways? Why was he not a flag bearer of Hashem’s mastery over the universe like Avraham was?     Perhaps we can understand that the usual difference between a tzaddik and a tamim lies beneath the surface, at the core of their approach to avodas Hashem. The manner that Noach was taught, and for that matter the way that Avraham learned from him initially, was that if a person did what was right, he would receive blessing. A person was thereby motivated to follow Hashem because of the things he needed and wanted. And although this approach can and does yield great results, it is often difficult to impress upon others. How can you convince someone who has it all that his avodah is not complete? How do you tell successful people that they need to serve Hashem in order to be successful? As such, one who approaches avodas Hashem in this manner, although he can motivate himself to do good, will find it hard to gain a large and widespread following. Not so with a tamim. A tamim breaks through and shows people the truth. Avraham Aveinu, when he turned ninety-nine, began to approach his avodah with the concept of Adnus, living to do the Will of God, regardless of its effect on us and our physical wants. No more was physicality an end goal or the desires of this world a motivation. The one and only motivating factor in his life was to follow Hashem’s will! A person who achieves this goal can, in fact, attract the masses. He shows them the beauty of such a life and demonstrates to them how fulfilling an existence of serving Hashem is, and spreads the name of Hashem throughout the world. This is what Avraham was able to do. Noach was a little different. Noach was a tzaddik, and did everything Hashem wanted, approaching his avodah in the way he was taught. He could not convince the world around him to repent, for they lacked any tangible motivation to do so. All that changed as the door to the tievah was shut and the whole world saw with their own eyes who Noach was and that everything he had preached was true. This elevated him to the status of a tamim, where people would now revere him enough to listen and follow him. This was important, for Noach would guide the world in the aftermath of the Mabul and direct its spiritual existence. Ultimately, when things returned to normal again, people lost the motivation of Noach’s teachings and fell to the terrible sins that followed. Avraham then assumed the mantle of tamim with the novel approach of Adnus, and began to build Klal Yisrael as we are today. A gut Shabbos! A Project of the YSI Alumni Association Written by R’ Moshe Weiss

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