Noach and Avraham / Childhood and Adulthood
The Torah says about Noach: "Noach was a righteous man, perfect in his generations; Noach walked with G-d." (Bereishit 6:9) Rashi explains that Noach needed assistance to support him, whereas regarding Avraham it says, "Whom I walked before Him" (24:40) - he walked strongly in his righteousness. What does this mean?
Furthermore, it says that Noach "walked with G-d," whereas in Parshat Lech-Lecha G-d commands Avraham: "Walk before Me and be perfect." (17:1) Why did G-d have to command Avraham to walk before Him, as Avraham Avinu observed the entire Torah? Why did He not command Noach so? In addition, what does it mean, "Walk before Me?"
In order to understand the difference between Avraham and Noach we will give the following parable.
Every father and mother wants the ideal child; a good child who does everything that he is asked, achieves good grades, has manners, smiles, helps in the house, and honors his parents. Furthermore, everybody dreams, aspires and seeks that his son will be like him (generally speaking). If the father sees that his son follows in his ways, this brings him true, heartfelt happiness.
Parents accompany the child throughout his development and maturity, and he relies on them and is educated by them. Their joy is when he behaves properly and carries out what is incumbent upon him.
This entire process is temporary. After a long time the child is already grown up, mature, and does not need to be all the time under the constant supervision of his parents. He already acquired from them enough in order to continue on, to build his own house based on what he learned, and to give of the good traits that he received also to others.
The same is exactly true here. There were twenty generations in the world until the birth of Avraham Avinu, but during their course the world did not yet complete its maturation process. G-d took individual people such as Chanoch and Noach, led them step after step with Him - like a father with his young child - and expected them to walk in the straight path. Therefore, it says about Chanoch, "Chanoch walked with G-d" (5:24), and also about Noach, "Noach walked with G-d." In other words, G-d helped, assisted and supported them to serve Him, and together they did the service of G-d.
When we look at Parshat Noach, we note a phrase that repeats itself a number of times. When Noach builds the ark, it says: "Noach did according to everything G-d commanded him, so he did." (6:22) When he was commanded to bring the animals into it, it says: "Noach did according to everything that Hashem had commanded him." (7:5) Finally, when Noach, his wife, children, and their wives entered the ark, it says: "Male and female of all flesh, as G-d a had commanded him." The Torah mentions three times that Noach did all that G-d commanded him. G-d accompanies Noach, like a father with his son, and G-d expects, at the moment, obedience. This is, indeed, what happens, as if Noach says, "Yes, Daddy," "Please, Daddy," without thinking a lot. Daddy asks - then he does.
Regarding Avraham, everything was different. G-d does not ask Avraham to walk with him. Avraham already passed this stage. G-d does not need now another one who will do whatever he says, like a little boy. Not so! G-d does not ask Avraham to walk with Him, but rather, "Walk before Me!" Take all that I bestowed upon you, and go with this on your own, i.e., spread G-d's existence to the masses. G-d expects Avraham to live based on what he was educated without constant supervision of a father to his son.
Therefore, we do not find that Noach prayed on behalf of his generation. Noach carried out what G-d asked, but he did not have the quality to go out with it, to influence others. Regarding Avraham this was not so. With all that Avraham received and archived in the service of Hashem, he goes of his own initiative and argues with G-d about Sodom and brings others to repentance.
Avraham would not have been whom he was, were it not for Noach. In other words, only after G-d accompanied the world hand-in-hand with great people such as Adam, Chanoch, Metushelach, and Noach - were our patriarchs, Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov able to spread the light of G-d throughout the world. They take the Torah and mitzvot that they are observing and live by them, even without personal guidance of G-d.
However, this is dangerous. Noach did all that G-d commanded him, but the minute that the father leaves the child for a second, he is liable to fall. Indeed, after Noach left the ark, he falls: "Noach, the man of the earth, debased himself."(9:20) It says that Cain "worked the land."(4:2) There is nothing embarrassing about working the land. It is possible to be a spiritual person and to work the land. However, Noach was "man of the earth" - his entire being and essence is materialism. When the father does not guide, for a second, and leaves, a fall can occur, G-d forbid.
The same is true about Bnei Yisrael. Bnei Yisrael left Egypt without Torah, without mitzvot, in forty-nine gates of impurity. G-d walks with them hand-in-hand and commands them some mitzvot. Daddy is here; Daddy is present. Therefore, the Torah mentions many times that Bnei Yisrael did everything that G-d commanded them, just like Noach. However, when He leaves for a moment, immediately comes the golden calf; immediately they seek another Father,
Only when they came to the Land of Israel, did they succeed in taking what they learned together with G-d (Father) for forty years, and to fulfill this themselves, like the patriarchs, Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov.
קוד השיעור: 3573
(Translated by Rav Meir Orlian)