“These Are The Flood Waters Of Noah!” Isaiah 54;9
Noah said to Moshe: ‘I’m greater than you; I was saved from the generation of the flood.’
Moshe said to Noah: ‘You saved yourself but you couldn’t save the world. I saved the world.’ (Yalkut Devarim 33;951)
God saw how great wickedness had become and decided to wipe mankind from the face of the earth. However, one righteous man among all the people of that time, Noah, found favor in God’s eyes. With very specific instructions, God told Noah to build an ark for him and his family in preparation for a catastrophic flood that would destroy every living thing on earth.
Noah spent one hundred and twenty years building this Ark hoping that he would attract the attention of the world and perhaps they would change their ways. But it was to no avail – wickedness continued and God’s plan was fulfilled.
There is a deafening silence in the story of Noah and the flood.
Noah was the Tzadik of his generation and the star of our Parsha. Yet, if we look for the actual words of Noah during this critical time we find an unsettling fact. There are no words – Noah said nothing. He was completely silent!
Generations later Abraham realized that the population of the world was misguided. His reaction was different; he spoke and spoke. He travelled and he taught. He influenced thousands and he changed the course of the world.
What would have happened if Noah would have spoken out?
G-d said, “I will erase mankind that I have created from the face of the Earth…” Noah was silent.
G-d said, “ The end of all flesh has come before me …” Noah was silent.
G-d said “Build for yourself an ark of gopher wood …” Noah was silent.
“ I am about bring a flood to destroy all flesh…” Noah was still silent.
“Only with you will I establish My covenant …” Silence! “And Noah did all that G-d had commanded him.”
It seems as if over and over again G-d gave Noah a chance to respond, but Noah was silent. We don’t know what would have happened if Noah would have protested as did Abraham when he heard of the imminent destruction of Sodom.
Surely, Noah thought, ‘Who am I to speak? What could my voice possibly add?’ So for over one hundred years he was silent.
Interestingly, the very first words we hear from Noah was after he emerged from the ark with his family. “… and he said, Canaan will be cursed, A servant of servants unto his brothers… And he said may G-d give beauty to Yefet but he will dwell in the tents of Shem… “
In these short sentences, the only known sentences uttered by Noah he profoundly molded the entire future history of the world! Perhaps to his own surprise, Noah’s few words changed all of mankind.
Perhaps he should have spoken up earlier.
“When Noah emerged from the Ark and saw that mankind had been destroyed he bitterly cried: ‘Master of the Universe, You are merciful and kind, where was Your mercy?’ The Holy One Blessed Be He answered; ‘Why are you saying this now?! You should have said this when I told you that I am bringing a great flood on to the world. I shared this warning with you so that you should pray. Yet all you did was save yourself!’ (Zohar Chadash Noach 28;1 – see also appendix to Zohar pg. 254)
Abraham found his voice. He spoke out and he saved the world. Moses spoke out and he changed G-d’s plan.
Perhaps we too should speak up before it’s too late.