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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parashas Noah(69)

This week's sedra speaks of the times of Noah, the flood that destroyed most of the inhabitants of the world as a result of G-d's wrath of their depravity. The sedra continues with the genealogy up until Abram and his family.

Genesis 7: 7

And Noah, his sons, his wife and his son's wives came 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 flood will come and did not enter the ark until the waters forced him.


A Question: Why does Rashi need to classify Noah as a weak believer, we know he was a righteous man?

Can you see the reason for Rashi's comment? What is bothering Rashi?

Your Answer:


An Answer: The verse says Noah entered the ark only once the rains began (" because of the waters of the flood"). But he was told by G-d that there would be a flood; so once his ark was finished why did he have to wait until the rains came? This seems to indicate that until he actually saw the rains he was still not fully certain that there would be a flood, even though G-d had told there would be. This shows a lack of faith on his part.


But we would still ask: How is it that Noah, the righteous one, was lacking in faith?


An Answer: There is a clever re-reading of Rashi's words, which gives them a completely different meaning. By a small change in the location of a comma, we get a very different meaning. It is usually read with comma after the words (in Hebrew): "miketanei ha'emunah haya, - ma'amin v'eino ma'amin...". The new reading moves the comma to after the words "miketanei ha'emunah haya ma'amin, - v'eino ma'amin..." Which means in English:

"Noah also believed in those whose faith was weak, [that they would still repent] and [therefore] he did not believe that flood will come and ( v'eino ma'amin sheyavo hamabul") [therefore] did not enter the ark until the waters forced him."

This, of course, is a clever and cute re-reading of Rashi's words, but most probably not what Rashi had in mind. We must accept that Noah was righteous in his generation, but his faith was still not the strongest, certainly not in comparison to Abraham's.

Shabbat Shalom
Avigdor Bonchek

What's Bothering Rashi?" is a production of "The Institute for the Study of Rashi."

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