Noah – A Tsaddik in Pelts

A Tsaddik in Pelts

R’ Jacob would say,
This world is an antechamber
before the World to Come.
Ready yourself in the antechamber
that you may enter the banquet hall.

The chamber is warm,
suffused with the golden glow
of God’s dreams for His world,
where Man prepares
to approach His throne.

A bone-chilling wind
blasts through the room:
smouldering embers
crumble to ash.
Man stands shivering.

Only Noah holds the key.
He could warm the world.
Rekindle the fire, Noah!
But Noah wraps himself in his fur coat
and alone, is ready to enter.


In the verse from Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) 4:21, R’ Jacob taught that by good actions in this life, we prepare ourselves for life in the world-to-come.

On the phrase, “Noah walked with God, ” (Bereishit 6:9),  R’ Moses Alshekh taught that Noah walked with God but not with people. He seemed oblivious to the others in the world around him, concentrating only on himself and his family. Commanded by God to build an ark, he took many years to do so and never in all that time did he think of trying to save the people and the world around him.

Chassidic master Rabbi Mendel of Kotzk spoke of a tzaddik im peltz – a righteous person in a fur coat. The Kotzker explained that in the freezing winter, one has two options to get warm: to kindle a fire or to put on a fur coat. Both of these would warm the person. But kindling a fire would warm other people in the vicinity, while a fur coat would only warm the one wearing it. Noah’s righteousness only “warmed” himself.

 

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