When we think about Noah, the first image we conjure in our minds is a teva (Ark) and the flooding waters. HaKadoah Barukh Hu in His infinite wisdom decided that He must destroy the world by means of a mabul (flood) considering that the inhabitants of His world were nothing but wicked, save Noah who was donned the name ‘Sadik’.
HaShem’s decision to wipe the world clean itself is one to be examined deeply and analyzed, but the means by which HaShem does so seems more questionable to me. Wouldn’t it be more feasible to just wish the world to stop existing, or to dismantle it in one snap? After all, in Parashat Bereshit we learn that HaShem Yitbarakh created and destroyed many worlds before He decided to keep the one we live in today. This was standard procedure. Why would HaShem pain Noah into building a tevah for 120 only for people to mock him, and then having to spend a year in there crammed with every type of animal for a year, only to see the world be destroyed beneath him. Imagine having to round up pairs of every existing species and seven of each kosher one yourself. Just picture having to feed these animals and care for every single one of them. We can barely remember to feed the fish we have at home! Why did Noah have to work so hard when it could have been done much more easily by HaShem’s hands? What purpose did it serve Ribono Shel Olam to force Noah to take protocol instead of just doing it all Himself? We know HaShem is fully capable of accomplishing it all without the help or the trivial effort of His children. What example is HaShem setting us to learn from Him?
Close your fist. What do you notice? All your fingers have the same length. Now spread your palms open and look again. Each finger is different from the other, they all have their individual lengths. From Noah we learn sensitivity towards others. We learn that every single person has different needs than another and must be treated accordingly. Sure HaKadosh Barukh Hu could have destroyed it all, but He kept Noah to show us that if we can tend to each and every single animal in this world according to their own specific needs, then we can surely treat our fellow human beings according to this same outlook. If Noah can have such sensitivity towards animals, both lowly creatures and grand ones alike, then we must have a heightened sensitivity for people as well.
Although sometimes it may seem that all people have the same needs, just like all fingers seem to have the same length, this is having a mind as closed as our fist is. However, when we open our fists and our hearts, we realize that all fingers, and all people are individual and each serve a different purpose; they each must be tended to specifically according to what they need, not what you think they need.
This is where Noah himself failed. Noah was called a Sadik, which is inarguably a stature to be lauded, however this was only a limit to this name; he was not given the title of a ‘Hasid’ like Avraham Avinu was. What is the caveat here? A Sadik is somebody who prays for himself, while a Hasid is a person who prays on the behalf of others as well. When Noah was warned that the world would be wiped cleaned due to the sins of its inhabitants, he was only concerned with his own welfare and did his own private Teshuva; he did not daven for others to repent and be saved. Had he done so, he just may have saved the world from destruction. Avraham Avinu however, upon hearing that HaShem wants to destroy Sedom begins to fervently daven on behalf of others in order for them to return in Teshuva so that they could be saved.
Perhaps Noah realized the value of each animal and served their every need, painstakingly caring for them in order to ensure their survival, however, he did not extend this sensitivity and care to the people around him; this is why we ultimately see his demise at the end of the Parasha. Sadly, at times we care more about another's child instead of our own siblings, or our bosses more than our parents and strangers more than our friends. Walking in the city in the mornings, I often see those who walk their dogs at 7 am in the cold, cleaning up after them, still dressed in pajamas and I'm assuming they have not looked in the mirror before they left the house based on various hairdos I have been observing. Yet, when their four year old daughter has school that morning, they are reluctant to walk them to school and sometimes have a nanny take this responsibility. We should not lose sight of who matters to us most and we should always remind them of that and make them feel that way.
Be’ezrat HaShem may we all acquire the proper sensitivity towards those around us and realize that each person has their own needs that we must strive to meet instead of just offering them a generic form of kindness we tend to default into when we become too absorbed in our own lives and needs.
Thanking everybody who made this week a wonderful one and wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom uMevorakh!