Once more, the clock has turned full circle and we again launch our Torah readings with the beautiful and inspiring stories which illuminated our childhood and give us so much food for thought in out adult years. We again read of the creation of the universe, the emergence of Adam and Eve, their children Cain and Abel and the general development of mankind.
Sadly, things did not quite turn out as G-d had intended. Adam and Eve did not last long in the beautiful Garden of Eden. Fortunately, G-d did not destroy the Garden. Its access road is guarded until the time that we will again be worthy to return.
The second generation of humanity did not fare much better. In a rage of jealousy, Cain killed his own brother, Abel. From then on, it was all downhill. Mankind became so corrupt that G-d decided to end it all. Civilization was doomed to destruction only ten generations after its birth!
But a wonderful thing happened. There was one man in the world — just one — who "found favor in the eyes of Hashem." The Torah describes him as a tzadik — a righteous person in his generation. Maybe in a different generation, he would not have stood out as much, but in the setting of all the evil around him, he was good
to his fellow human beings. In short, he was a mentsh.
This man, Noah, has always intrigued me. The Torah tells us so little about him. We know that he was a farmer. In fact, after the Flood, he planted a vineyard and became drunk from its produce! Apparently, he was far from a famous philosopher, great theologian or multi-millionaire. He seemed to be just a decent human being. And just consider the difference that this made. Through him - and only because of him — all mankind was able to continue... to make a new start.
Did it ever occur to you what enormous implications this episode in the Torah has for you and me? Just by observing as many mitzvot as possible, by extending a helpful hand or giving a cheerful smile, we can demonstrate that despite all the troubles in the world, there is hope... we can improve.
The truth of the matter is that you and I can be a Noah and much more. The results may be far greater than we can imagine.
--- Rabbi Norbert Weinberg