The more I read the story of Noah, the world and God, the more I've been troubled. Noah seems so colorless and void, John Voight's recent portrayal of him notwithstanding. Even Torah has an ambivalent view of him. Noah was considered an "eesh tzadik", a righteous man, but could have been a "nefesh tzadik", a righteous, or spiritual soul. He was "tameem", blameless without fault, the word "tameem" can also mean meek, nebbish, like the way Jacob was compared to Esau. Noah walked with God, but not the Lord. Noah was an ultra nice guy.
This was not a good time for God. His creation was going sour before him. This was not a case of two people, Adam and Eve, disobeying him. Nor of one guy killing another, as Cain did to Abel, and at least regretting it somewhat later. No, the whole place was going down.
So Noah was told to prepare for the ultimate corporate downsizing. He was given a budget and a small staff to salvage what assets the Boss considered saving. The Lord Himself handed out the pink slips. No corrective action. No golden parachutes. No outsourcing, spinoffs or vote by the Board of Directors or shareholders - well, wait, there was a vote by the only Board Member and Share Holder.
Boom, or whoosh, that was it. And Noah did as he was told. No protest. No comments. No anguish. Noah did "k'chal", just, as he was told. Now, wiping out all human and other terrestrial life is an astounding thing. It can make one speechless. Maybe that's what happened to Noah. Maybe he is the first case of post-traumatic stress disorder, getting drunk as soon as life on earth became "normal".
One sees floods about to happen every day. Businesses, governments, entire societies go along on their grooved rails. They sometimes are lawless or corrupt, described in Torah as "chamas", but more likely they are "yashav", or settled, soft or complacent as the people who tried and failed to build a tower at Babel to God.. And maybe that was Noah's gift. Maybe God was speaking to everyone, but only Noah paid attention. Noah at least prepared for change, did something different, risked ridicule and got out of a rut. That at least is something we can take with us in these times of mergers, technology driven changes and uncertainty, avoiding complacency in the face of an impending flood. Amen.