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October 21, 2023: Parashat Torah Portion Noach

This week’s Parashah Torah Portion Noach is taken from Genesis 6:9-11:32. Join Dr. Jeffery Myers, as he petitions us to take heed to the warning exemplified in the life of Noach. Even though Noach was a good man, he had NO influence in his environment! Biblical Judaism involves “collective responsibility!

Follow along in the AUDIO PODCAST, by clicking on the play button below, and reading along with the notes, as you listen to today's Parashah Torah Portion:

Lion of Judah Speaks: Parashah Torah Portion Noach - Genesis 6:9-11:32

In Genesis 6:9 it says, “Noach, a righteous man, perfect in his generations; Noach walked with Elohim.” When we look at the praise that Noach is given it is unparalleled anywhere in the Tanakh. There is no such praise given to Abraham or Moses or any prophet. Only one who comes close is Job, described as “blameless and upright and he feared Elohim and shunned evil.” Noach is the only individual in the Tanakh described as righteous. But the man we see at the end of his life is not the person we saw at the beginning.

After the flood, in Genesis 9:20-23 we see that the man of Elohim has become a man of the soil. This upright man has become a drunkard. The man clothed in virtue now lies naked and unashamed. The man who saved his family from the flood is now so undignified that two of the sons are ashamed to look at him. This is a tale of decline…why?

When we look at Noach he is a classic case of someone who is righteous but not a leader! In an age, a corrupt age, when the world is filled with violence, when Elohim Himself in Genesis 6:6 says, “He regretted that He had made man on earth and He was pained to His very core.”

Noach alone justifies Elohim’s faith in humanity, the faith that led Him to create us in the first place. Listen…that is an immense achievement and nothing should detract from it. Noach is, after all, the man through whom Elohim makes a covenant with all humanity. Noach was a good man in a bad age! However, his influence on the life of his contemporaries was apparently ZERO!

In Genesis 7:1 Elohim said, “You alone have I found righteous in this whole generation.” So, we know who was saved; Noach, his family and the animals. It is reasonable then to assume these 2 facts: 1. Noach’s righteousness. 2. Noach’s lack of influence on his generation are intimately related! Noach preserved his virtue by separating himself from his environment. This is how he stayed sane in a world gone mad!

To be called “perfect in his generation” could be a praise or criticism. This quote is only relative to the low standard of that generation. If he had lived in the generation of Abraham, he would have been insignificant or if it is a wicked generation Noach was righteous; how much greater he would have been in a generation with role models like Abraham. This argument turns on whether Noach’s isolation was part of his character or if he was a loner.

As a loner he would not have gained by the presence of heroes like Abraham. He would have been impervious to influence whether good or bad. If he was not a loner by nature but by merely circumstance- then in another age he would have sought out kindred spirits and became greater still.

So, what was Noach supposed to do? How could he have been an influence for good in a society bent on evil? Was he really meant to speak in an age when no one would listen? Sometimes people do not listen even to the voice of Elohim Himself! If Elohim speaks and men do not listen – how can we criticize Noach for not speaking when all the evidence suggests that they would not have listened either?

We still have a voice and when we remain quiet, we also experience the punishment in time of destruction because we did not protest the action of our contemporaries. Why punish those who did not speak if it is clear no one would have listened? No one could be sure that your words would have had no impact. How can you be sure you will fail if you never try? So when bad is happening in society, when corruption, violence and injustice prevails, it is our duty to register a protest, even if it seems likely that it will have no effect. Why? Because that is what moral integrity demands!

Silence may be taken as consent and besides we can never be sure that no one will listen. Morality demands that we ignore probability and focus on possibility! Someone will take notice and change his or her ways, and that “perhaps” is enough. In Ezekiel 2:3-3:3 he tells us to speak regardless of whether people will listen!

Let’s look at Noach again; the story of Noach is a failure of leadership. Noach was righteous but not a leader. Noach was a good man who had no influence in his environment. Noach is the 3rd in a series of failures of responsibility: 1. Adam and Eve failed to take personal responsibility for their actions (It wasn’t me). 2. Cain refused to take moral responsibility (Am I my brother’s keeper?). 3. Noach failed the test of collective responsibility.

This way of interpreting the story, if correct, entails a strong conclusion: Biblical Judaism involves “collective responsibility.” All of Israel are responsible for one another! There are two ways of keeping warm on a cold night: 1. Wear a fur coat. 2. Light a fire. If you wear a fur coat you warm yourself. If you light a fire you warm others!

We are supposed to light a fire! Matthew 5: 13-16 says, “You are the salt for the Land. But if salt becomes tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except being thrown out for people to trample on. You are light for the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Likewise, when people light a lamp, they don’t cover it with a bowl but put it on a lampstand, so that it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they may see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.”

Noach was a good man who was not a leader. We know that the Torah sets a high standard for the moral life. It is not enough to be righteous if that means turning our backs on a society that is guilty of wrongdoing.

We must take a STAND! We must PROTEST! We must REGISTER DISSENT even if the probability of changing minds is small. That is because the moral life is a life we share with others. We are, in some sense, responsible for the society of which we are a part! It is not enough to be good—we must encourage others to be good! There are times when each of us must lead! I believe NOW is the time!

Shabbat Shalom Mishpocha,

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It is time for our voice to be heard! It is time for the watchmen to stand and proclaim the goodness and mercy and coming of our King, Yeshua HaMashiach. In this wicked society where Torahlessness is running rampant…be the voice in the middle of the wilderness. Repent for the Kingdom of Elohim is at hand! See you at the altar!

Shalom Aleichem



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