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"For Instruction shall come forth from Zion, The word of the L-rd from Jerusalem." -- Isaiah 2:3


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GENESIS — 6:9 blameless

(Translated as “wholehearted” in Duties of the Heart.)  What you must know is that the aim and objective of the duties of the heart are for both our outer and inner selves to share equally in serving G-d; that the heart, tongue, and limbs be consistent in their testimony, that they authenticate each other and bear out one another, rather than oppose and contradict each other. This is what Scripture calls being “wholehearted”: You must be wholehearted with Hashem your G-d Deuteronomy 18:13; He was wholehearted in his generation (this verse); He who acts wholeheartedly does what is right, and speaks the truth from his heart Psalms 15:2; I contemplate the wholehearted path; when will I attain it? I will conduct myself with wholeness of heart, within my own house Psalms 101:2.  DUTIES 37.

GENESIS — 6:9 blameless

Segments of the traditional community have frowned upon efforts to secure Jewish political rights on the ground that if G-d really wanted the amelioration of the abject conditions of the Jewish people, He could bring this about without requiring the assistance of Jewish political action. The historical record shows that Hungarian Orthodoxy, for example, was unequivocally opposed to any interventions with governmental authorizes designed to improve the sociopolitical or economic conditions of the Jewish community.  That this quietistic stance was not only prompted by the fear that better socioeconomic and political realities would expose the Jewish community to the spiritual hazards of assimilation, but also reflected a deeply ingrained and genuine aversion to any form of activism, can be gauged by a remarkable comment of R. Abraham Samuel Benjamin Sofer, the son and successor of the Hatam Sofer.  He notes that Noah is first described in [this verse] as a perfectly righteous individual, whereas subsequently Genesis 7:1, he is characterized merely as a righteous individual but not as a perfect one.  R. Sofer suggests that this diminution of Noah’s status occurred because, according to the Midrash, Noah’s invention of the plow paved the way for the development of agriculture. With the improved ability to grow food, people no longer felt completely dependent upon G-d. Thus, Noah contributed to the process of secularization. ETHRESP 108

GENESIS — 6:9 generation

Why did the Torah include the words, “in his generation”?  Jewish tradition favors the answer offered by Rabbi Yochanan [ben Zaccai]: “in his generation” emphasizes that only in a generation of moral depravity could Noah be regarded as great. But had he lived in another, more moral, age, he would not have been regarded as special.  More insightful and fair, I believe, is the often ignored observation of Yochanan’s contemporary, Resh Lakish: “If even in his [awful] generation was he was righteous, he would certainly have been righteous had he lived in another, more moral, generation” Sanhedrin 108a.  The Talmud elsewhere relates that Resh Lakish grew up in deprived circumstances.  One source claims that as a young man he was part of a band of thieves (suggested by Rabbi Yochanan’s words in Baba Metzia 84a, another that he was a member of a [gladiator] circus Gittin 47a.  Because Resh Lakish had been raised in a rougher and less moral environment than Rabbi Yochanan, he could judge Noah more compassionately and fairly; he appreciated the efforts needed to overcome a deprived background.  Indeed, as Resh Lakish suggest, if someone like Noah could grow up without a good role model and emerge as a righteous man, how much greater would he have been with support and encouragement.   TELVOL 1:77-78

GENESIS — 6:9 Noah

There were ten generations from Noah to Abraham, which informs [us] how great is His patience: for all those generations continued to anger Him, until Abraham our Father came and received the reward that was due them all. Pirkei Avot V:3  This mishnah is apparently very similar to the previous one. [There were ten generations from Adam to Noah, which informs [us] how great is His patience: for all those generations continued to anger Him, until He [finally] brought upon them the waters of the Flood.]  Both tell how the Almighty waited patiently through nine evil generations for the righteous man in the tenth. Yet how differently the two instances end: Abraham received the reward of all, but there was no cosmic destruction.  For Noah no reward is mentioned; he merely saved himself and his family, as the rest of the world was destroyed. What lay behind these two instances, to make the outcomes so very different?  As the Sages discern their characters, Noah and Abraham were utterly unlike in their senses of responsibility toward the people about them. When the Divine Ruler wanted Noah to build an ark because the deluge was coming, Scripture notes that this is about all he did: he built the ark.  We find no hint that he tried to change his fellow-men or save humanity.  At G-d’s awesome decision, he uttered not a word to implore the Creator to spare his fellow-men. He simply went and built his ark.  In Scripture we read, “These are the generations of Noah: Noah …. “ [this verse] One commentary wryly notes: This was the tragedy of Noah—he gave birth only to himself.  In Yiddish we might call Noah a tzaddik in peltz, a righteous person in a fur coat. The phrase derives from a parable of a group that finds itself freezing in an icy-cold room, whereupon one decides to achieve warmth.  Now, he can either build a fire in the grate or stove, which will warm everyone; or he can wrap himself in a sturdy fur-lined overcoat, to warm him alone.  If he chooses the fur-lined coat, Yiddish folklore dubs him (and by extension, anyone who acts to take care of himself alone), a tzaddik in peltz. Noah chose the peltz: he built an ark.  Abraham, however, was concerned with his fellow-men.  SINAI3 5

GENESIS — 6:9 righteous

It is interesting to note that while the Pentateuch describes individuals as performing all sorts of actions, moral and immoral, wise and foolish, they are rarely ascribed specific attributes or character traits. The rare exceptions are Noah, who is once referred to as a “righteous and whole-hearted man,” and Moses, who is described as “very meek, above all the men that were on the face of the earth.” [this verse; Numbers 12:3] In the light of this reticence, the description of G-d as “merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth” must have been perceived as a revelation which in some sense ascribed these moral qualities to G-d as part of His essence or character. G-d has been known to perform acts of kindness in the past, but now we are being given to understand that kindness is an abiding quality of G-d Himself.  SPERO 34

GENESIS — 6:9 Righteous

Moreover, immortality can be achieved by doing righteous acts that affect people.  The impact of these acts continues long after the person dies physically.  Chofetz Chaim enhances this concept when he says that one strong act of kindness can impact not only one person, but can continue to have impact from generation to generation until the end of time.  Shemirat HaLoashon 1:7.   Therefore, by being good, a person has the potential to affect thousands or even tens of thousands of individuals for the better and change the world positively forever.  AMJV 159. 

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