‘Noach was a righteous man, perfect in his generation.’ (6; 9)
Rashi on the words ‘in his generation’ notes, that there are those who say this is a praise ;had Noach lived in the times of tzadikim he would also have been considered righteous. Others argue and state the opposite- had he been living in other times he would have not been such a tzadik.
One can ask, if we’re able to take this word (b’dorosov) as praise, why would we try to take this word the other way, as a g’nai?
There’s a gemara in Sanhedrin (108:2) that asks a question on a Pasuk from our parsha. The Pasuk says ‘from all the kosher animal you shall take seven and seven; ‘man and his wife’; and from the non kosher, two; man and his wife’ (7; 2). This pasuk seems a bit odd. Where do we ever find a concept of husband and wife by animals? Is there a concept of marriage by animals? The gemara answers that since they only mated with their own kind we used this type of wording.
The Aruch in his explanation on the side of the gemara continues to pursue this question. He notes that the gemara seems a bit puzzling because it still never answered the question. All the gemara said was that they remained faithful. The question, however, remains: is there a concept of marriage (of man and wife) by animals?
The Aruch answers and says, from the fact that the animals didn’t mate with others who were not from their kind, the Torah elevated their status due to their behavior and treated them as if there is a concept of Ishus by animals. These animals were living in a corrupt world and they elevated themselves. They were so exalted, that they were on the level of human beings.
Why is the gemara telling us this? The Torah wanted to highlight their behavior, to show us that all these animals were special because of how they behaved. By using a loshon of ishus the Torah praised their behavior.
The Chofetz Chaim says that this is the explanation for those who understood the word b’dorosov as a derogatory description. If Noach would have lived in the times of Avraham Avinu he wouldn’t have necessarily been a tzadik and he may not have even reached the level of greatness like Avraham Avinu did. But the Torah nonetheless considered Noach a tzadik due to the level of his surroundings. Noach was living in a corrupted world where he could’ve easily assimilated with the ‘regulars’ and used excuses like ’everybody’s doing it’. But he didn’t; he was not willing to be influenced by his surroundings. It was this that saved him from the destruction of the Mabul. The Torah wanted to inform us that if one has the ability to ignore his surroundings, then we can characterize that person as a tzadik. Despite the fact that he may not have been considered a tzadik in a different generation, Noach received this prestigious title for his ability to reach his level in his generation by overcoming his challenges.
It’s an important lesson for us all to learn from Noach. We’re living in an unethical society where we are easily influenced by everything that is going on around us. It’s up to us to make sure we stand out and are highlighted from our neighbors, from our society. How do we do that? By standing firm on the ways of the Torah and not going with the flow. The more gedarim a person makes the more one elevates himself. Even if we are not perfect at times, we can be classified as tzadikim by simply being better than our surroundings. We will then be called a tzadik in the eyes of Hashem for not being swept along with this filthy current.
May Hashem give us all the strength not be influenced by our surroundings and to be included in the title of tzadikm.
HAVE A GREAT SHABBOS
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