by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek
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And Noah and his sons and his wife and his son's wives went with him into the ark, because of the waters of the flood.
Because of the waters of the flood: Rashi: Noah was also of those whose faith was weak, he believed and did not believe, that the flood will come, and did not enter the ark until he was forced by the waters.
Can you see what prompted Rashi to make this remark, which by the way, is not too complimentary to the Righteous man of the generation?
What Is Bothering Rashi?
An Answer: The words "by the waters of the flood" are suspicious. Of course Noah went into the ark because of the coming flood - that was the whole purpose of the ark, as we initially understood.
. How does Rashi's comment deal with this?
An Answer: Rashi tells us that Noah entered the ark only "because of the waters" - meaning only once the rains began. Why would he wait until the last minute? This indicates that he was still not 100% sure the flood would actually come! This shows he had a lack of faith in G-d's prediction.
This interpretation certainly does not reflect favorably on our hero. After all is said and done, G-d had spoken to Noah personally. His lack of faith in G-d keeping His word is a bit startling. But, remember the first Rashi-comment on the sedra. There Rashi points outs out Noah's relative, though not absolute, righteousness.
An Interesting "Chop" (Twist)
Some chassidic interpreters have even found a good word for Noah in this Rashi-comment. They say we have to punctuate Rashi's words somewhat differently, in order to get the true meaning of his words.
They say we must read his words thus:
Noah (cross out "was") also of those whose faith was weak he believed in, and (therefore) did not believe that the flood will come, and so he did not enter the ark until he was forced to by the waters.
The meaning is that Noah had faith even in those weak in faith, he believed that they would do "teshuva" and therefore G-d would rescind the decree and there would be no flood. Therefore Noah waited till the last minute to enter the ark!!
This is a lesson in finding the good in every one - even in Noah!
"What's Bothering Rashi?" is produced by the "Institute for the Study of Rashi and Early Torah Commentaries."
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
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