Noah was a righteous man in his generation; with God walked Noah. (Breishit 6:9)
There has been much debate throughout the generations over whether Noah was a righteous man in and of himself or merely a righteous man in comparison to the rest of his generation. Can any good trait be fully explored without a comparison to the negative? Is morality rated on a bell curve? Wherefore is there a qualifier attached to Noah’s righteousness?
I would argue that, rather than it being a qualifier lessening Noah’s righteousness, “in his generation” is in fact added praise for the extent of Noah’s righteousness. And, should you doubt, we are told that Noah walked with God. In a good world this is difficult enough. But imagine the world of Noah, a world so full of evil and immorality that God felt the sources, both human and animal, needed to be washed from the earth. Imagine being the one individual to stand out and act differently; to walk with God rather than follow the mob.
Today, with so many media outlets, immorality and evil seem to come easy and be everywhere. We are so inundated that we become numb. We turn off. If we do react, the impact is lost in the next moment. John Stuart Mill once said, “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” All too often, this seems to be the case. There is currently a trend in social media following the Harvey Weinstein scandal. It started with this post, “If all the women I know who have been sexual harassed or assaulted write “Me too” as a status… and all the women they know… we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem. Stop the silence. Stop the violence.” My Facebook feed is filled with the status of “Me too.” And my status is also “Me too.” I want a world where “me too” will never be my daughter’s status. We need to do better. On this issue and on so many more.
The prophet Michah taught, “What does the Lord require of you? Only to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” It’s time we followed through.