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So a family member sent me a very nice idea on Parshas Noach from the Ruzhiner Rebbe. The text reads as follows:

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Noach was a righteous man, he was perfect in his generation (Bereishis 6:9) - there are those from our Rabbis that expound on this as a praise (for Noach) and there are those who expound on it as a disgrace (Refer to Rashi there). By the expression of those who view it as a praise (for Noach) it writes "there are those from our Rabbis that expound", and then afterwards it writes that there are those who learn it out as a disgrace (for Noach) - but here it doesn't write our "Our Rabbis", since those who see it as a disgrace for Noach are not deemed as our Rabbis, because our Rabbis don't seek out to disgrace.

Whilst this is a very nice idea that points out the positives and sincerity of our Rabbonim, how then does he understand the Gemara in Sanhedrin 108a where Rabbi Yochanan takes the latter view.

It writes there:

אלה תולדות נח [נח איש צדיק תמים היה בדורותיו] א"ר יוחנן בדורותיו ולא בדורות אחרים

“These are the generations of Noah; [Noah was a righteous man, and wholehearted in his generations”] Rabbi Yocḥanan says: in his generation (he was righteous and perfect), but not relative to those of other generations.

Indeed, when looking into this Gemara, the Ben Yehoyada writes that Rabbi Yochanan is building off his view that is aired in Bereishis Rabbah 32:6:

וַיָּבֹא נֹחַ וּבָנָיו וְאִשְׁתּוֹ וגו', אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן נֹחַ מְחֻסָּר אֲמָנָה הָיָה, אִלּוּלֵי שֶׁהִגִּיעוּ הַמַּיִם עַד קַרְסֻלָּיו לֹא נִכְנַס לַתֵּבָה

And Noach and his sons and his wife came etc - Rabbi Yochanan said that Noach was lacking in Emunah (faith); if the water (of the flood) hadn't arrived up to his ankles, he would never had entered into the Ark.

So Rabbi Yochanan clearly doesn't take such a positive view of Noach? How does this reconcile with the analysis of the Ruzhiner?

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  • 1
    +1 Good question, and thanks for the source. The rabbi of the shul I davened on Shabbat said this same idea as a joke. Didn't know where he got it from. Shkoyech.
    – Harel13
    Oct 10 '21 at 10:08
  • 2
    אין משיבין על ווארט חסידי
    – Joel K
    Oct 10 '21 at 10:22
  • @JoelK - you said that not me :-)
    – Dov
    Oct 10 '21 at 10:23
  • Interestingly, Rashi ostensibly got his comment from a mixture of Midrash Tanchuma Noach § 5 and Tanchuma Yashan Noach § 6. In the latter, it says: מהו בדורותיו, יש דורשין לשבח, ויש דורשין לגנאי
    – robev
    Oct 10 '21 at 13:11
  • 2
    Discussed here by R. David Bar-Hayim.
    – Alex
    Oct 10 '21 at 14:51

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