In this week’s Torah portion, פרשת נח (Parshat Noah), the תורה writes that “נֹ֗חַ אִ֥ישׁ צַדִּ֛יק תָּמִ֥ים הָיָ֖ה בְּדֹֽרֹתָ֑יו-Noah was a righteous man, perfect in his generation.” (בראשית/Genesis 6:9). There is a disagreement among many Rabbis about whether נח (Noah) would have still been considered a צדיק (righteous person) had he lived during the same time as אברהם (Abraham). Does the word בְּדֹֽרֹתָ֑יו (in his generation), mean that נח was merely great relative to the wicked people of his time or that he was able to be righteous even in his wicked generation?
One essential difference between נח (Noah) and אברהם (Abraham) is that when נח (Noah) was informed that only he and his family would be the only people to be saved when the rest of the world would be destroyed, he did not ask G-d to reconsider his decision. When אברהם (Abraham) was told that G-d is going to destroy the cities of סדם (Sodom) and עמרה(Gomorrah), he asks G-d to spare the people if he could find 50 righteous men among them. Despite being unable to locate the 50 people necessary, אברהם (Abraham) continued to try and protect the cities. Even though אברהם (Abraham) was unsuccessful in his attempt to convince G-d not to destroy the cities, his efforts were rewarded with the lives of his nephew לוט (Lot) and his daughters were spared from destruction.
The different reactions of נח (Noah) and אברהם (Abraham) translated to their lasting legacy on humanity. The שבע מצוות בני נח (The Seven Laws of Noah) were given to all of the people of the world regardless of religion. However, due to the kindness of אברהם (Abraham), he became the first of the three אבות (Patriarchs) in Judaism and is seen as the father of all monotheistic religions. Both נח (Noah) and אברהם (Abraham) are two of the great figures according to the Jewish faith. May we all strive to be like נח (Noah) in making the right choices, even when everyone else is making mistakes, and like אברהם (Abraham), who was always kind to everyone even when it was not deserved. Good Shabbos!
By: Eli Waxman (9th Grade)