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Parashat Noah – A Conflicted Personality


“Noah entered the ark, because of the waters of the flood.”

We see that he only reluctantly boarded the ark because he was forced to do so due to the rising water. Yet, he suffered years of ridicule while diligently building the ark and warning the population about the impending flood that would destroy the world that they had created.

Amazingly, our sages fault him for failing to reprimand his wayward generation.

What was it about Noah’s life that deserves such rebuke?

In fact, Noah did actively try to teach and educate anyone who would listen, but the reason his words fell on deaf ears was that he, himself, was not totally convinced of the inevitability of the decree, as evidenced by his hesitation to enter the ark only entering the ark due to the rising waters.

We may think that when we educate and teach students or our children that we fulfill our obligation when we merely convey the message. Unless we firmly believe in the truth of our message, it will have a hollow note.

Noah was indeed a righteous person, but he was not a leader. Our tradition holds him accountable for the loss of his generation, not because he did not teach and not because his actions did not conform with his words, but because he did not fully believe his own message.

~Rabbi Shaul