Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Notes on Noach

So, Noach. Obviously he was a rightous man and had faith in Hashem, and once he was ordered to build the ark he did so with much tenacity, according to our sages during a period of 120 years, and probably accompanied by the ridicule of others, and this is admirable.

But his faith didnt make him an activist it seems. Before the flood, he was rightous and probably his family too, but we are not told that he actively tried to change the behaviour of his peers, or preach rightousness to others. He is also a bit fatalist if you compare him to Abraham (which seem to be the thing that is often done) or Moshe. Because once he is told that Hashem intends to wipe out humanity, he simply accepts it ans start building the ark. Compare that to how Abraham starts to haggle with Hashem over Sodom or Gemorra or how Moshe tells Hashem after the Golden Calf incident that if Hashem blots out Am Israel then he might as well remove Moshe from the book Hashem i writing. So when it comes to Abraham and Moshe, despite their absolute faith in Hashem, it doesn’t stop them from questioning His decision of from being equally loyal to Humanity and Am Israel.

This makes me think acually about a difference I perceive between Islam and Judaism (one of many). Clasiical Islam typically has an “Inshalla” atitude to things, a rather fatalist approach basically. If you are born in a poor shoemaker family, this is what God wants and thats that - you become a poor shoemaker or a poor shoemakers wife. So basically Noachs approach may be seen more one of “obediance”, while Abrahams and Moshes approach is more of “partners in creation”.

As for Rashi and the classical question of who is more rightous, Noach or Abraham, whether Noach was only rightous in comparison with his own rotten generation, or whetherwe should concur that he was superrightous as he was able to stay that way DESPITE being surrounded by the worst sinners imaginable, and hence, in the company of Abrahams peers, would have towered over him....hmmm....I guess I’m heretical enough to say that I dont really find the question very relevant: To me Abraham is more Jewish in his ways and he is hence closer to me. On the other hand his readiness to sacrifice Isaak is a display of completely blind faith that I honestly fail to understand - especially in light that he pleaded for the lifes of the people in Sodom and Gomorra, people he didn’t even know (with the exception of the fullblown sinner Laban). But...that might be something for next weeks parcha.

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