Concerning Noach ( Noah) we read ;
“These are the generations of Noach, Noach was a righteous man he was perfect in his generations; Noach walked with G-d”
Those are three incredible qualities describing Noach. He was righteous, perfect in his generation and he walked with G-d.
We have also been told about Noach at his birth that “This one will comfort us from the work and sorrow of our hands because of the ground that G-d cursed.” (Bereishis 5:29). 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 find conflicting opinions in our tradition. 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 (Sanh. 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. “
The Zohar (Vol. 3 15a), asks the question why in the haftara usually read on this Torah portion , the flood is termed “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).
If Noach was the righteous man described in the text ,why would the flood be named for him, almost implying that he was responsible for it ? 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.
Yet there is a deeper level involved as well. .Noach was gifted with a righteous soul. He was a man who “walked with G-d” and as a result was empowered by G-d to walk straight and upright. Rashi explains on the words “Noach walked with God” the following;
” But concerning Avraham, Scripture says (ibid 24:40): “[Hashem] before Whom I walked.” Noach required [G-d’s] support to uphold him [in righteousness], but Avraham strengthened himself and walked in his righteousness by himself. —”
That is to say as opposed to Enoch and Noach who “walked with G-d” we are told that G-d expected more of Avraham.
“And when Avram was ninety years old and nine, Hashem appeared to Avram, and said unto him: ‘I am G-d Almighty; walk before Me, and be thou wholehearted. “.
Noach was a righteous man and perfect in his generation. He truly “brought comfort” into a ravaged land. Yet perhaps the verse could be read slightly differently “Noah was a righteous man he was perfect in his generations because Noah walked with G-d
In the future much more would be expected of Abraham and much more would be expected of his descendants. While Noach and Enoch walked with G-d and felt empowered and protected by that walk, Avraham was told to have enough faith to walk forward into the unknown with the knowledge that G-d was right behind him. It was to be that walk of faith that would characterize the descendants of Avraham and enable them to walk the long walk of faith and destiny that had been laid out before them. Even if at times, as we recently saw at the UN,they will have to walk that walk almost alone.