Noah – The Righteous Man

Tomorrow’s Parashah {פרשה}  (weekly Torah portion) is Noach {נח} (Hebrew for Noah.) This is the second weekly Torah portion in the Book of Genesis and can be found in Genesis 6:9–11:32.

The name of the weekly Torah portion comes from the third word (in the original Hebrew) of the opening verse:

“These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.” (Genesis 6:9)

The Hebrew name ‘Noah’ {נח} (pronounced as ‘Noach’) means ‘comfortable’ but actually refers to the first part of this English word ‘comfort’ which is ‘Nechama’ {נחמה} in Hebrew. According to the Jewish tradition, Noah was named like that because of his future role in the flood that gave comfort to mankind.

In the traditional Jewish literature, there are TWO views about Noah’s righteousness. One is precisely as what is written in the verse above and therefore sees Noah as an ABSOLUTE righteous man.

The other point of view points out the Bible mentions specifically that ‘Noah was a righteous man, blameless IN HIS GENERATION.’ This means that in comparison to the other people, who were evil, he was considered to be a righteous man.

A nice idea that I heard a long time ago by a rabbi from the old 16th century synagogue in Sefad (the ‘capital city’ of the Galilee region, northern Israel) explains why the Bible stated the ‘IN HIS GENERATION’ part.

The rabbi said that while it is true Noah was considered a righteous man in comparison to the rest of his generation, however that fact is exactly what made him choose the ‘righteousness path’. In other words, when Noah saw the bad behavior of the people around him, he made a decision to be a better person. Moreover, the words ‘IN HIS GENERATION’ were mentioned here as the source of Noah’s righteousness.