Abraham saved the world Noah saved himself.
Although Noah was a righteous man and did whatever G-d told him to do, Noah’s silence was deafening. As far as we can know, all the years of Noah he didn’t say a word! G-d told him to build a boat – he built a boat. G-d told him to gather animals – he gathered animals. G-d told him to gather his family – he gathered his family. During all of that time, though, Noah didn’t say a word! He didn’t talk to the people to try to convince them to change their ways and he didn’t talk to G-d to beg him to change His plan. ‘Who is He to try to change a culture?’ He thought. ‘Who is he to negotiate with God?!’
Our Sages tell us that Noah was short on faith. If Noah did everything G-d asked him to do – how can he possibly be considered short on faith?!
Reb Levi Yitzchok of Barditchev explains that he wasn’t short on faith in G-d; he was short on faith in himself. He didn’t understand or believe in his own power to affect change! Our sages looked at Noah and the destruction that surrounded him and asked him the question of history: “Why didn’t you say something? Why were you silent?”
Generations later Abraham spoke to the people and changed the world; he spoke to G-d and worked hard to change even Divine plans.
Maybe if Noah would have spoken to the people about G-d and good honest behavior there wouldn’t have been a flood. Maybe the world would not have been destroyed. But Noah didn’t think that way; he didn’t realize that he had the power to change the world.
When the flood ended and every living thing emerged from the ark, for the very first time Noah spoke up. His blessing and curse determined the outcome of the world. In a couple of short sentences Noah shaped the entire history of the future. Indeed Noah was a powerful man, but he didn’t believe in his power.
How often has history begged the question, ‘Why didn’t anyone say anything?’ The world and the communities that we live in still need some fixing. We can’t be short on faith! We can’t afford to question our ability to shape the future.
Abraham was full of faith; not only did he have faith in the Almighty but he had faith in his power to affect change in the world. Abraham saw that something was wrong with the world so he spoke out and took on the entire generation. G-d saw Abraham’s faith and helped him succeed. Abraham believed in G-d and he believed in himself and the world became a better place.
This Dvar Torah is dedicated by our good friend Shirley Landau in honor of her husband Arthur’s 60th birthday. May Hashem bless their entire family with good health and nachas.