“Noach was a righteous man, flawless in his generation…” (Genesis 6:9).
Rashi cites two views of this qualified assessment of Noach: Some of our sages maintain that it comes to praise him. Even in his wicked generation he was righteous – how much more so had he lived at the time of Abraham. Others, however, see this negatively. It was only compared to the treacherous people of his generation that Noach was seen as righteous. Had he lived at the time of Abraham, he would have been insignificant.
How is it possible for anyone to interpret this verse negatively when the verse clearly says that Noach was righteous and flawless? Why would Rashi even cite this view if we’re to give everyone the benefit of the doubt?
The Amshinover Rebbe points out that Rashi doesn’t tell us that any of our sages viewed Noach negatively; this was just the view of ‘others’. Along these lines, R’ Yechezkel of Kuzmir explains that truly righteous people will always have detractors because they tend to rock the boat by setting a high moral and spiritual standard. By citing these naysayers, Rashi is bolstering Noach’s bona fides as a righteous person.
By Rabbi Michael Skobac
Rabbi Michael Skobac had been involved with Jews for Judaism (Canada) since 1989 and currently serves as its Director of Education and Counselling. He is a leading authority on missionaries, cults and issues relating to Jewish continuity and Jewish spirituality. Rabbi Skobac's publications include Missionary Impossible; Counter-Missionary Survival Guide; The DaVinci Code: A Jewish Perspetive; and Intermarriage: Is There Ligth at teh End of the Tunnel?
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Republished by Angelique Sijbolts with permission for the Noahide Academy.