But Noach is a righteous man

Insights into people in the Torah.

Moshe Kempinski,

Judaism Moshe Kempinski
Moshe Kempinski
צילום: PR

The end of the Torah portion of Breishit describes mankind turning inward and focusing on only selfish desires and passions .The text there seems to indicate that G-d “regretted”  creating man  "And the Lord said, "I will blot out man, whom I created, from upon the face of the earth, from man to cattle to creeping thing, to the fowl of the heavens, for I regret ( Nichamtee) that I made them" Genesis 5:7) .

Yet the unusual use of the Hebrew word for regret -Nichamtee seems to hint at another direction. The root of the word is based in the concept of comfort- NECHAMA . This fact may help unravel  a theological dilemma. How is it possible for the All-Knowing G-d to regret anything? Nothing would come as a surprise to G-d.

 How, then, can this be understood?

Hashem has a plan and destiny for all of His creations. That plan can move through the attribute of Divine Justice or it could transverse through the attribute of Compassion. G-d could use the Right Hand of Mercy or the Left Hand of Justice. Generally it is a mixture of both as we read in King Solomon’s words in the Song of Songs;

“His left hand supports me under my head, and His right hand does embrace me.”( Song of Songs 2:6)

G-d can create situations that would break us to reform us, that would redirect us  and that would humble us as He moves us forward in His plan. On the other hand  if we can be directed to that goal with mercy and compassion like a parent holding a baby then that will be the character of our walk in that path of destiny.

What determines which form of reality and which road will be taken is a function of what type of vessel we have become. How do we react to the events that occur around us? Do we use them to grow or rather assume that the blessings we receive are an entitlement?

That is what occurred to the generation of the flood.

So G-d left the Right hand of compassion and turned to the left hand of justice .Yet in the midst of that change He was comforted that he had A Noah

But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.            (:Genesis 5:5-8)



In fact the name Noah or Noach is rooted in the same comfort concept, in Hebrew that of comfort or Nechama.

We have already been told regarding  Noach at his birth that “And he named him Noah ( NOACH) , saying,This one willcomfort us( YI-NACHAMEINI) from the work and sorrow of our hands because of the ground that G-d cursed.” (Bereishis 5:29)



Hashem was comforted": with the new path the world was embarked upon.

What made Noah so special?

A walk of faith can in fact become a very lonely walk. Isaiah declares the following ;

“Hearken to the word of Hashem, those who are zealous( or diligent) of His word ( Haredim LeDvar Hashem) , “Your brethren who hate you, who cast you out, said, “For the sake of my name, Hashem shall be glorified,” but we will see your joy, and they shall be ashamed.( Isaiah 66:5).

Walking in truth and faith at times necessitates a separating form the false veils and coverings that surround us. Yet loneliness is not meant to be an ideal and separateness is not an independent virtue.

We read of Noach (Noah) the following ;

“These are the generations of Noach, Noach was a righteous man he was perfect in his generations; Noach walked with G-d”

Walking with G-d necessitated the courage to even walk alone. That courage is ensconced within the three incredible qualities describing Noach. He was righteous, perfect in his generation and he walked with G-d.

Here was a man who was born with unique qualities and it is those qualities that gave him the vision to see above the mire and corruption of his own generation.

Yet we must ask why was Noah not seen as the spiritual father of all mankind? Rashi on the words “perfect in his generations” explains that some sages see these words as complimentary and declare if that was how Noach was in his generation how much more so would he be in the generation of Abraham. Yet others teach (Sanhedrin 108a) that “In comparison with his generation he was righteous, but if he had been in Abraham’s generation, he would not have been considered of any importance.“

Yet the Zohar (Vol 3 15a), asks a deeper question that is revealed in the haftara usually read on this Torah portion (Isaiah 54:1-55:5) .

In the text the flood is described as “Mei Noach” – the waters of Noach;

”For this is as the waters of Noach unto Me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noach should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.” (Isaiah 54:9)

Why then is the flood in the Torah portion of Noach considered to be “the waters of Noach ”? In what way can it be ascribed to Noach?

The Zohar explains with a midrash;

Noah leaves the Ark and sees the world in its destruction. Noah began to cry before God and he said, “Master of the universe, You are called compassionate. You should have been compassionate for Your creation.” God responded and said, “You are a foolish shepherd. Now you say this?! Why did you not say this at the time I told you that I saw that you were righteous among your generation, or afterward when I said that I will bring a flood upon the people, or afterward when I said to build an ark? I constantly delayed and I said, ‘When is he [Noah] going to ask for compassion for the world?’ … And now that the world is destroyed, you open your mouth, to cry in front of me, and to ask for supplication?” [Zohar Hashmatot, Bereishit 254b]


It is not that important if Hashem would have changed the decree or not .Beyond the simple obedience of building the ark, he should have also prayed for mercy and a rescinding of the decree.

Our sages teach that the ark was built for 120 years, in order to allow mankind to be aroused to repentance during that time. Noach in his righteousness dutifully continued to build and prepare, despite the ridicule and abuse he may have endured.

Yet after all is said and done, we do not hear of Noach praying for mercy for the world like Abraham did. We are not told that Noach attempted to reach out to his neighbors to “make souls” as Abraham did. As a result of his inward focus, he was held to be partially responsible for the flood.

We all stand individually before our creator. Yet in addition we are all one creation of our Creator. We all exist because of the same Divine breath that is breathed into us constantly. When one of us falls we all fall. When any one of us rises up again, we all become lifted.

So Noah brought great comfort to the world but the world still needed to await an Abraham.

LeRefuat Yehudit Bat Golda Yocheved and Yehudit bat Chaya Esther