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The Torah's Weekly Portions
Genesis, Beireshit /Noach
Noach Was A Righteous Man
Contributed 2007 by Asher ben Shimon
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"These are the generations of Noach, Noach was a righteous man he was perfect in his generations."

With these words we start this week's Torah portion, Noach. The famous question is asked why the Torah says that Noach was perfect in 'his generations'.

The answer to that we find in different places with slight variations. - Talmud: In comparison with his generation he was righteous, but if he had been in different generations, he would not have been considered of any importance.

-Midrash Tanchuma: had he been in Avraham's generation.
-Bereishit Rabba: had he been in the generation of Moshe or Shmuel.
-Zohar: had he been in the generation of Avraham, Moshe or David.

We can understand why Noach is compared to Avraham since that was the next big star in world history.

We would also not have much difficulty understanding why the names Moshe and Shmuel were chosen to put down Noach's greatness. Moshe was the 'father of all prophets'. He was the one prophet who spoke to G-d 'face to face' and that at any time he wanted! Shmuel is the one about whom it says that in his generation he was equal to Moshe and Aharon together in their generation. Both very great men.

But what is the significance and meaning of the three names the Zohar chose to compare Noach with?

The world was created for two things; the Torah and the Jewish people. The ultimate purpose of our existence in this world is to reveal Hashem's kingship.

These three concepts are connected to
a) Avraham, father of the Jewish people,
b) Moshe who brought down the Torah, and
c) King David who was given royalty till the end of days.

It is interesting to note that the acronym for Avraham, DAvid and Moshe forms the word Adam - Man. This indicates again that man's purpose is connected to the aforementioned concepts.

Since according to the Zohar Noach is being compared to these three people, we have to find the similarities between them.

The generation of Avraham. "Avraham was one". In an environment of idol worship where monotheism was unheard of, Avraham stood up all alone to spread the belief that there is only one G-d.

The generation of Moshe. On the verse in Psalms "the earth feared and subsided" our sages say the following. When Hashem created the world he made a condition with it. "If the Jewish people will accept the Torah you will continue to exist, but if not I will return everything to nothingness." He said.

The world anxiously awaited the 6th day of Sivan in the year after the exodus from Egypt. It 'feared' it would loose its very existence if the Torah wasn't accepted. When the Jewish people did accept it, the world subsided.

Once Moshe gave us the Torah, the world's existence depends on our study of its words and the fulfillment of its commandments.

The generation of David. The purpose of crowning a Jewish king is to proclaim Hashem's kingship to the world. The Torah only provides the world with spiritual energy. A king brings the world to a higher level by revealing this energy. This is also indicated by several occurrences that took place during David's rule.

In David's days the conquering of the Jewish land was finally completed. Also in his days surrounding nations came to bring him presents, which shows they were subjugated to him. King David was given royalty for all generations to come culminating in the coming of Moshiach. In those days all the nations will accept Hashem as king of the world. But it won't be only the humans who will subject their ego to a higher being, even the animals will live together in peace. The wolf will lie with the lamb etc. This will happen as a result of a very strong divine revelation that will permeate all created beings revealing their G-dly essence.

When we take a close look at Noach we will find similarities between his divine service and that of the 3 generations of ada"m.
- Just like Avraham, Noach also stood up all alone against the multitudes.
- Just like the Torah keeps the world going we see that in his merit the world was kept in existence. Not only was it spared during the flood; Hashem also promised him he wouldn't bring a flood like that ever again in the future.
- In his days there was also an elevation in the world itself. During the flood all animals stayed under the same roof without harming each other, something that will only happen again in the times of Moshiach. But even before the flood the animals acted in a supernatural way. Noach had been instructed to take only those animals that had not mixed with different species. Of those he was to take seven pairs of Kosher animals and two pairs of non-Kosher animals. Miraculously only the animals who were allowed on board showed up in nice lines without pushing each other. A double miracle!

Nevertheless the Torah says that this is nothing compared to what happened in later generations!

A child who has not yet reached the age of bar/bat mitzvah is not obligated to fulfill the Mitzvot. Still parents have the obligation to train their children in order for them to know what to do when they reach that age. When a child performs a Mitzvah he does not fulfill a G-dly command. The main purpose of educating a child is to teach him discipline. Therefore the main emphasize should be on those mitzvot which tell us what NOT to do. It also means that the best way to educate the child is by installing a fear of negative consequences if he does not follow instructions. Only when he starts maturing at the age of 13, he is able to start understanding on his own why he should do mitzvot out of Love for Hashem.

Noach was like the child being educated. He did not teach the people about Hashem; he gave over His warning that if they did not shape up there would be a flood.

The main sins of his generation were between the people themselves. They used to rob and steal and did not have any respect for the institution called marriage. Noach was the only righteous man concerning all these matters that were disrupting a normal moral way of life, but his focus was not so much on living a Spiritual life. We are told that although he believed Hashem was going to bring a flood he hesitated till the very last moment to enter the arc. Even after the rain started falling he hoped it would still turn out to be a regular rain shower. It was the force of the water that pushed him into the ark.

All he did was out of fear, not out of love.

Avraham was different. He was like the bar mitzvah boy who starts serving Hashem on his own.

Avraham came to a conclusion that there must be something higher than physical powers. He discovered G-d and subsequently started teaching the world about Him

There is also a difference between the way the world was kept in existence in Noach's days and the way it is being kept in existence now through Torah.

In Noach's merit the world was merely not destroyed. The promise after the flood was also that the world would not be destroyed in the future. In other words the most extreme negative did not -and will not- happen.

By keeping the torah we sustain the world in a positive way. Not only won't the bad happen, we actually add to the good in this world by studying torah and fulfilling its Mitzvot.

Although in Noach's days there was peace between the animals, this was only a temporary development necessary to rebuild the world after the flood. This is obviously very different from what will happen when Moshiach comes when the change will be permanent as a result of the great divine revelations that will be felt by the entire universe and its inhabitants.

The Mishna in Pirkei Avot speaks about three types of crowns. The crown of priesthood, the crown of Torah and the crown of royalty. Avraham is referred to as a Kohen (psalms). He wore the crown of priesthood

Moshe handed down the Torah. He wore the crown of torah.

David was a king. He wore the crown of royalty.

Noach didn't have a 'crown'.

A crown is something higher than the head yet when someone wears it he is crowned. -He becomes one with the crown.

Noach was aware that G-d ruled nature. Avraham had a crown. He knew there was something much higher than that.

Noach barely kept the world going by not disturbing the Divine plan of creation. The Torah not only existed before the world came into being; the world's existence depends on it. Now that we, the entire Jewish people, wear the crown of Torah we have the power to add unlimited positive divine energy to the world.

Higher than that is the crown of royalty.

We can learn about the strong positive connection between a people and their king from the negative results of a disconnection between the two. A subject who rebels against his king is always put to death. In contrast to other cases of capital punishment this is not a punishment but a direct result of his action. Since everything he has belongs to the king, rebelling against him takes away his life. In other words, the people ARE the king. If the king is not in the picture there are also no people.

In reality the entire world is a subject of Hashem. By proclaiming Hashem king of the universe we do not ADD anything new to the world; we REVEAL the fact that the entire universe is only a manifestation of divinity and G-dliness.

The Zohar says that Noach's way of serving Hashem IS not considered valid in different generations. By saying it in the present tense it is coming to teach a lesson to anyone who would think he can be righteous in a Noach way without a crown.

If someone through his own thinking comes to the realization that he should not do anything wrong and add goodness to the world through Torah observance and even explain the world that there is a G-d he is still not serving G-d properly. Only when the person is tuned in properly to the One Above and this realization comes (also) from his 'crown' which transcends his own intellect then he is serving Hashem properly.

May we soon merit the time when Hashem will be One and His name will be One with the coming of Moshiach NOW!!


Translations in Torah Portions of the week are partially taken from the ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash and from Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch Chumash

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