I hope everybody enjoyed the “Holiday Season."
Ours went very well. It was topped off by a visit from a good friend of mine and his family for two days of Succos. Given that he doesn’t live in Israel, we see each other very rarely, and when we do, well, we’re both somewhat . . . immature, to say the least. The important part was, there was a lot of laughing, and we did not do anything to deserve “The Look” from one of our wives.
Okay, on to Torah!
“Noah was a righteous man, faultless in his generation. Noah walked with G-d” (Bereishis 6:9-10).
There’s a famous Rashi which says that some take this statement as praise, since he is called “righteous." And some that take this as “not-so praiseful," since it says that he was “faultless in HIS generation," being that had he been alive during the time of Avraham, he wouldn’t be considered righteous.
Rav Shlomo Brevda like to remind those who so easily take the “not-so praiseful” stance, that had WE lived in HIS generation, we would be lucky to be considered cockroaches.
The Sifsei Chachamim points out that the pasuk says that Noah walked WITH G-d, while regarding Avraham, the Torah says that he walked BEFORE G-d. What was the difference between the two and why was Avraham on a higher level?
The Sifsei Chachamim continues to explain that Noah lived in an evil generation, and was able to cut himself off from that generation to live ONLY with Hashem, hence “Noach walked with G-d.” Only with G-d, did he walk. Avraham, on the other hand, was not only able to separate himself from society, he was also able to live within that society and to challenge their beliefs, bringing others closer to Hashem.
Many people look at this and think, “Look how great Avraham was! I’ll strive to be like him!” Yet, before one becomes an Avraham, one must first become a Noah.
Some people get inspired with their Judaism, and before they are ready, go into Jewish outreach, and the next thing you know, it is THEY who need the “outreach." They wanted to skip the level of Noah and move straight to the level of Avraham.
Noah separated himself from society completely, since he did not want it to affect him at all. And he was right in what he did. The entire world, including nature, was tainted with sin, but Noah and his family were not. Avraham too, was able to separate himself from society. He could not care less who won the Superbowl or the latest political scandal. However, he was able to maintain that level even while dealing with society on a day-to-day basis.
It’s an interesting mental exercise to see how much we are affected by our society, not necessarily for the negative--even for the positive. With honest thought, we can see that it affects us a lot. So, before we can attain the level of Avraham (if it’s possible in some of our lifetimes), we need to work on our ability to walk WITH G-d, with keeping the Torah to the best of our abilities without letting the outside world affect our behavior or thought.
Have a wonderful Shabbos!