parshah noach v’rosh chodesh

estimated 3 min read

This week we read Noach, Bereshit 6:9-11:32, which starts with hashem commanding Noah to build the ark, takes us through those 40 days and 40 nights, and concludes with the ten generations between Noah and Abram [Abraham].

Beginning at the end for a clue as to what to look into this week (and thank one of Nechama’s lessons for inspiration and guidance), let’s compare Noah and Abram. All translations come either from Chabad or my Artscroll w/Rashi (see end for sources). If I were to do the translations you’d get some of the words and I don’t really know tenses very well yet.

First, Noah.

These are the generations of Noah, Noah was a righteous man he was perfect in his generations; Noah walked with God. (Bereshit 6:9)
Then Hashem said to Noah, “… for it is you I have seen to be righteous before Me in this generation”. (Bereshit 7:1)

Now Abram.

And Abram was ninety-nine years old, and God appeared to Abram, and He said to him, “I am the Almighty God; walk before Me and be perfect*.
(Bereshit 17:1)

Hmm… Noah walks with Hashem and Abram walks before Him. Regarding * i have perfect, i’ve also seen “whole-hearted”. My Hebrew isn’t good enough to know why there is the difference in translations.

Rashi (if you click those links you can choose “show rashi”) says that Noah needed support to bear him up (thus walking /with/ god) and Abram would strengthen himself (becoming Abraham) and would walk into his righteousness on his own (thus walking before god). In Rashi’s explanation of 17:1, he turns to Onkelos’s translation that walking before God means worship before Me, or cleave to My worship.

So where are we going with this? This is a character comparison. Noah was content to just save his and a limited circle of “own souls”. Abraham would not be content with “just” that (see Sodom and Gomorrah). Looking at Rashi for a bit longer we see that Noah wanted to rise above the corruption of his generation (dor, דור). He needed help. Abraham did not need this assistance and thus could walk before HaShem. I’m not saying Noah was not worthy or bad because he was a little more narrow minded or needed God’s assistance to walk. He was signalled for survival and continuation. Abraham for a mission. Completely different. We’ll learn more of Abram next week in Lech Lecha.

It’s Rosh Chodesh Chesvan today and tomorrow.

Last week I wanted to write about the Tree of Knowledge. In retrospect I’m happy I wasn’t able to because I still don’t feel I can even begin to approach it.

DISCLAIMER & Reminder: I am a lay person with a very incomplete education. These posts are my attempting to puzzle out and learn. If you see something I wrote that is wrong, please help me learn. I just ask that you do so while thinking of what words you chose to tell me “I’m wrong”.

שׁבּת שׁלום

Sources:
Judaica Press Complete Tanach with Rashi
The Sapirstein Edition of The Torah: Bereshit, student size.
Leibowitz, Nehama and Aryeh Newman (translator). New Studies in Bereshit (Genesis): In the Context of Ancient and Modern Jewish Bible Commentary.