Talk about timing. It has barely stopped raining over the past ten days and we are right in time for Parashat Noach!
It’s an incredible story. The world has descended into evil and chaos so G-d decides to flood the world and begin it anew. Only one family from the families of the world is saved. That of Noach.
It would seem that Noach is the ideal forefather for the Jew. He was a man who was alone amongst the nations, who lived a life based on his own inspired standards and not based on popular trends. Yet Noah is clearly not Jewish. As a matter of fact, all non-Jews are called by the Torah ‘the children of Noah’. Only Abraham who is born ten generations later will be chosen as the ‘first Jew. Why?
The defining difference between Abraham and Noah is not found in their own levels of faith and piety, rather it is found in how much of that piety they influenced upon others. You see, it took Noach 120 years to build that ark. All that while he knew why he was building this boat and he sustained ongoing ridicule from those around him. You would think in all that time he would succeed in inspiring maybe a hundred, or even ten people, or even one person to repent. But what do we see? While Noach succeeded in saving his family and a sampling of each animal species, he was unsuccessful in saving any other human being.
This is why we are called after Abraham and not Noach Because the hallmark of the Jew is not only that he believes, but that he inspires others to believe. It is not only that he is good, but that he infuses his surroundings with goodness.
Wishing you and your families Shabbat shalom!
Rabbi Yossi and Chana Raizel Friedman