You are here

Noach 2018

Dvar Torah

The genealogical information in Genesis indicates that Noah and Abraham were alive at the same time. Abraham was 58 years old at the time of Noah’s death. The Torah does not tell us whether they knew each other, so we can only speculate. In his own search for God, Abraham would surely have been interested in meeting Noah, whom God had specifically described as a righteous man. If they had met, what would they have talked about?

Noah would have told Abraham about the events leading up to the Flood, and about God’s disappointment at human failure. He might have told Abraham about his own regrets at remaining aloof instead of chastising his fellow men and trying to be a good influence on his generation. They may have discussed the basic nature of humanity and the evil inclination that sometimes leads us astray. They may have reflected on the fact that people after the flood were no better than they were before the flood. They may have concluded that it was fruitless to imagine that everything would be alright if the wicked were destroyed, so that a better course of action would be to teach righteousness and morality, rather than trying to improve humanity by wiping out sinners.

There were ten generations from Noah to Abraham, but in a real sense Creation begins anew with Abraham. Although Noah was dedicated to his task, he did not save anyone outside his own family. And whilst his Ark was a refuge for thousands of species of animal and birds, he seemed to make no attempt to help the rest of humanity. When we are faced with problems, one response is to “build an Ark” and hide oneself away from a hostile world. But hiding is not a valid option. By protesting against evil – which Noah could not do – we remind ourselves not to slip into the evil that surrounds us. The Sages comment that Noah could have sought to transform the society around him, but didn’t. They compare him unfavourably with Abraham, who did try to change people and the world. Whilst Noah was given the Noahide Laws that clearly establish codes of decency expected of every human being, it would be left to Abraham and future generations to give us the vital messages of our Torah.

Margery Cohen

More documents on this Parshah: