Friday, October 23, 2009

Parshat Noach: Doers and Believers

Have you ever heard a question, a question that an entire Dvar Torah rests on, and not gotten it?

Noach is the only person to be called a Tzaddik in the Tanach. (I haven't checked the sources myself, but that's what the last Yeshiva guy I dated told me. So if he's wrong, you know who to blame. )
Then Noach only enters the Ark when it starts raining heavily. Why didn't he go in before? Rashi asks. God had already told him that the world was about to be submerged, why wait around? It's because Noach was "מקטני אמונה", of the slight of faith.

But how could Noach be called a Tzaddik if he lacked faith?"

Pre-empted by the required. "I'm not the type of guy who gives Dvar Torah's on dates, but", my date-of-the-night launched into a long and convoluted explanation.

Are you in suspense? Sorry, I don't remember what the answer was. You see, I was still stuck on the question.

Why should so called lack of faith be a contradiction to righteousness? Give the guy a break, he's only human. God created the universe so that his presence is Nistar, hidden, veiled behind the material world. We have to struggle to see him, to connect.

Rav Wolbe, in Alei Shur, writes that "Emet", truth, isn't the clear and obvious. When a man swears that a tree is a tree, or a rock is a rock, the Talmud calls that a false oath. Because the shallow isn't worthy of the title truth. Emet is one of God's names. Emet is deeper, more spiritual.

I see a Tzaddik as someone who does the right thing, despite the difficulties. Someone who deep inside, and through the hazy world, knows the truth, and battles to put that truth into action.

Noach can be a Tzaddik, and still be fighting some internal battles, be working on his connection with God. That doesn't bother me.

The opposite, surface faith, casually spoken words of faith that leave you wondering what lies behind them, that's what I find disturbing.

After all, it's easy to espouse faith, especially on behalf of other people. "Hashem will help ", "Have Bitachon and your Zivug will come", and, my favorite, "I'll Daven for you."

One thing I've noticed over time. The people praying are never the people helping.

The minute I hear a Pasuk or a slogan, in response to the information that I'm "in Shidduchim", I know there's no point in continuing the conversation. I know that this person is not going to set me up with anyone. Especially not with their single son.

I thank God every day that he created another type of person in the world. People who care, who do. They may not go to as many Shiurim, or know their way as well around the book of Tehillim, but in my eyes they are the true Tzadikkim of our generation. It could be that they are praying for me as well, but they do the praying privately.

I don't think faith is the main measuring stick we are judged by. I think our deeds count too.


  1. Amen, sister!

    As soon as you posed the question I thought the same thing. The Eibishter can let it slide a bit in our relationship with Him-He's forgiving.

    But with people? You better be careful. In that He doesn't give a lot of wiggle room.

    That's is why R' Steinman had to issue a statement that people pursue Hashem while stomping on their families and friends. Our relationships in this world counts when it comes to the relationship with the Big Guy.

  2. ouch!! sometimes a passuk or a prayer is the only way you can help. And while the tangible help is always the help that is most recognized, as you pointed with noach--don't underestimate the impact of the intangible. As for the yeshiva guys answer--im not sure if this is it, but there a famous comment from one of the chassidic rebbe to re-read the rashi-noach mei ketanei amanah hayah maamin-noach believed in those who had very little emunah and he was confident that even those small people would do teshuvah before the flood came. V aino maamin sheyavo hamabul--and he didnt believe that the mabul would be necc. bc he believed that those with little faith could change. gives a different reading on Noach. Brad