Noach is described in the text as a singularly determined individual. Against all odds he withstood the taunting of a generation, the enduring endeavour of building a boat over many decades, and displayed a quiet certitude in his fate and the fate of the world. And what’s more – he was right. The climate changed!
• Yet there is a point of view that is quite critical of Noach. Not that he disobeyed the prophetic instructions or slouched on the job. But his work was blinkered. He didn’t look beyond himself and his family. He didn’t try to improve the moral and ethical climate of his generation to prevent or forestall the flood, he looked after himself and his own family.
• Doing the right thing in life is important. But that doesn’t absolve us from responsibilities to others and society. We may personally display all the virtues of a principled individual in our personal life. But Hashem created society, not just individuals, to teach us that our responsibilities extend beyond the border of one’s own home. We must feel the need to improve the life of others.
• The Hassidic teaching in Yiddish is Tzaddik Im Pelz – the Tazaddik in an overcoat. If one is cold there are two ways to warm up: put on a coat, or light a fire. The difference being that the fire can provide warmth to others as well. Noach was a Tzaddik im Pelz.
• Light a fire in your life and provide moral and ethical warmth for others as well.