We read in our parsha that “These are the generations of No’ach: No’ach was a righteous man and perfect in his generations, and No’ach walked with G’d.” (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 6, posuk 9.) The Imrei Shefer comments on the Midrash regarding the words; “These are the generations of No’ach …” that the flood was directly attributable to No’ach’s behavior. According to the Midrash, “he [No’ach]… caused the flood by not protesting against the corrupt actions of the members of his generation.” (Torah Gems, Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, Sefer Breish’t, page 56)
However, in learning Perek Cheilik, Gemora tractate Sanhedrin, the gemora indicates that No’ach protested the immorality of his generations rather vigorously, often debating his evil contemporaries.
The Alshech refers to No’ach with the yiddish expression,”‘Tzaddik in peltz’ — ‘a righteous man in a fur coat.'” He was commanded by Hashem to build an ark which he built board by board and nail by nail for 120 straight years. It never occurred to him “… that there might be a way [tefillah – prayer as Avraham Avinu prayed before Sodom — MB] to avert Hashem’s decree and to save the world from destruction.” (Torah Gems, Sefer Breish’t, page 57)
In citing this Alshech, it should be indicated that Avraham prayed, although on Divine levels, apparently the Sodomites were deemed beyond prayer when they spread honey all over body of the woman (some say — a daughter of Lot) who did chesed for the hungry and fed her to the bees as her cries reached Shemayim. (Perek Cheilik, Gemora tractate Sanhedrin) There were no righteous in Sodom upon whom the city merited being spared.
R’ Menachem Mendel of Kotzk explains the “Tzaddik in peltz” this way; “When one is cold at home, there are two ways to keep warm — … heat the home or get dressed in one’s fur coat or other warm clothes. The difference between the two is that in the first case the entire home is warm and everyone feels comfortable, whereas in the second case only the person wearing the coat feels warm, all the other people continue to freeze. There is the type of righteous man who, when he sees that Jewish observance is “cold”, does everything possible to warm up the entire area. On the other hand, there is the righteous man who closes himself up within his own little space so as to ensure that at least he doesn’t get swept away by the stream.” (Torah Gems, Sefer Breish’t, page 57)
And so, the commentators contrast No’ach and Avraham Avinu.
Shem Mishmuel writes (Shem Mishmuel, English rendering by Rabbi Zvi Belovsky, Parsha No’ach, page 17);
“No’ach was a Tzaddik; it was built in [as was the circumcision he bore at birth], and nothing he did changed or developed in any way. Avraham was a totally self-made man. His origins were idolatrous; indeed his father, Terach was an idol-seller! Everything about Avraham’s origins was sordid….Through Avraham’s own efforts and tenacity, he achieved tremendous greatness and was able to pull down kedushah from Hashem to himself and his family.”
Shem Mishmuel (ibid, Shem Mishmuel, page 17) brings a midrash on a posuk from Tehillim 65:5;
“Happy is the man whom You choose and cause to approach You” — happy is the man whom G’d chose even though he did not draw near. And happy is the man who drew near even though he was not chosen. Who is this? It is Avraham…but he wasn’t drawn near; rather, he drew himself near. (Bamidbar Rabbah 3:2)
The message of the above, when translated to our modern-day matzavim, seems to make this comparison; there is the Yid who learns his Gemora or whatever Sefer he is learning daily at whatever time he sets aside each day for learning, gives of himself for his Shul Kehilla, for his neighborhood but doesn’t reach beyond. And there is the Yid who does all of the above and reaches beyond, [“outside the box”, if you will], who puts aside comfort, vacation, entertainment, trips to Chutz L’Aretz, 5 Star Hotel Accomodations, perhaps even personal professional or financial success and enrichment in order to fight for his brother [whereever he is and who he, in all probability has never previously met] and for our beloved Eretz HaKodesh.
The Land of Israel activists fought and are fighting the tyrannical regime on behalf of their Jewish brethren, for Kol B’nai Yisrael, are doing — “…everything possible to warm up the entire area.” In turn they need the help, support and swelling of the ranks of all who support Jewish survival in our divine legacy, Eretz Yisrael and who are inspired by the heroism of these activists against our generation’s despotic government leaders.
May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard, captive Gilad Shalit and the other MIAs be liberated alive returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem and that we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of the Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.