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Mar. 18, 2018 - 2 Nisan 5778
Daf Yomi Avodah Zarah 62

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Section:  Avodah   Category: Chanoch L'Naar
Noach, The Perfect Tzaddik With Imperfect Children
The Torah calls Noach a tzaddik, but not only that, he is called a tzaddik Tamim, complete and perfect.  The very next pasuk tells us that Noach had three sons, Shem, Cham, and Yafes.  Cham as we all know was a Rasha.  Can a father of a Rasha be called perfect.  Is this Rasha son in no way a reflection on him and a stain on his record?

The beginning of the pasuk starts, "Eileh Toldos Noach, Noach", the offspring of Noach was Noach.  A Mashal is given about a father who works night and day and earns more money than he needs to live.  When asked why he doesn't retire, he replies that he is working for the next generation.  Fast forward 20 years to a hard working young man, the rich heir to his father's sweat an blood.  Why does he work?  For the next generation of course!  This repeats itself generation after generation.  Will any of them ever stop and do something useful with their life after accumulating seven generations of wealth that is just sitting in the bank?

Noach did not live for his children.  His "baby" was himself.  He worked on himself to reach perfection.  Does that mean that he didn't care about his kids?  Chas V'Shalom!  The next words of the pasuk are "Ish Tzaddik".  Noach was a tzaddik.  A tzaddik is selfless.  He lives to give to the world.  Yosef was called a tzaddik as he supported the entire world through the years of famine, as did Noach in the Teivah.  This seems like a contradiction.  On one hand Noach lived for himself and on the other hand he was selfless and lived for others.

The answer may lie in the distinction of what one does for his children and why he does it.  When raising children there are two possible driving forces.  One because the child is our child and we live through them.  They are an extension of us and we see them as the ultimate reflection of ourselves.  We try to shape the children how we'd like ourselves to be.  This approach has more to do with ego than being a true parent and guardian of the Neshama that Hashem has entrusted us with.

The Torah approach is that raising children is just another mitzva that Hashem has sent our way.  It is a way of fulfilling his command and making ourselves a better people by doing this.  As Rav Shimshon Pincus writes, we are not placed in this world to change the world, it is Hashem's world and He will shape it as he wants, with or without our help.  We are here to shape ourselves into the perfect human being.  This is something that Hashem cannot do since He gave us Bechira, free choice.

By the same token our children have free choice and we cannot "make them" into anything.  We are commanded, as part of our own self betterment, to help others grow to the best they can be.  If we have made this effort then we have done our job to perfection.

Noach lived his life to perfection.  Eileh Toldos Noach Noach, he worked on Noach.  In the course of his work he was a tzaddik, he devoted himself to the others, including his three sons, the entire human race (before the Mabul), and the entire animal population (during the Mabul).  "Tamim Haya B'Dorosav", he achived perfection as he fulfilled his task completely, despite the fact that, "VaYoled Noach Shlosha Banim Es Shem Es Cham V'Es Yafes".  True they did not all turn out to be tzaddikim but in no way does that detract from Noach's perfection.  He did his job perfectly!
RELATED ARTICLES:chinuch  Noach  Parshas Noach  Shem, Cham, and Yafes  tzadik

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