Sunday, October 24, 2010

245 - Noach

"Noach was a righteous man, pure in his generation" (Bereishis 6, 9). Rashi writes that some (of Chazal) explain this pasuk in a positive light, while others explain it derogatorily. Those who explain it complimentarily, assert that had Noach been in a generation with other righteous people he would have been an even greater tzaddik. However, those who explain it derogatorily posit that only in his generation he was considered a tzaddik, and had he lived in the generation of Avraham, he would not have been given even an "honorable mention."

Rav Wolbe (Shiurei Chumash) quotes Rav Yeruchom Levovitz zt"l who stresses the Torah's perception of man's accomplishments. Though some explain the Torah's accolade as a true compliment and some explain it only in relation to Noach's generation, they both agree that one is measured with a yardstick in comparison to the generation of the greatest stature. For example, one can measure the amount of light produced by a candle in comparison to a lightbulb or flashlight, or in comparison to the greatest source of light that exists - the light of the sun. The Torah gauges one's spiritual level in comparison to the light of the "sun" - the founder of Judaism, Avraham Avinu.

One might look around at those in his surroundings and complacently think that he has surpassed his colleagues or friends in their spiritual ascent, and as a result he can slack off a bit. This is not the case. One who has the ability to grow or do more, cannot rest on the laurels of his past accomplishments. For as we have seen, a person is not judged in comparison to his family, his colleagues, his kollel, his city or even his entire generation. The true test of a person's greatness is to see how he would match up with his own vast potential. The spectrum of greatness begins with where one is now and extends to the pinnacle of Avraham Avinu.

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