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I was reading of Noach and there some disagreement on whether he was a complete Tzaddik or an incomplete Tzaddik. What does this mean? How is it determined?

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From https://www.sefaria.org/Flames_of_Faith.4.5?lang=bi

The second individual is a tzaddik she-eino gamur, an “incomplete tzaddik,” who is primarily attracted to morality. He also possesses a weak drive for evil and sin. His desire for the holy is supreme and he consistently chooses virtue. Within his heart the advocate for holiness is loudest so it is said to rule over the evil inclination. Such an individual is also called tzaddik ve-ra lo, a tzaddik who suffers, literally “a tzaddik whom evil is his.”87 He has some ra, “evil,” but lo, it is “his,” since he controls it.

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  • Shavuah Tov Maurice. Sources? Rambam in Hilchot Teshuva and Alter Rebbe in the Tanya would be good places to reference Feb 6, 2022 at 18:44
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The Gemara in Berachos 7a discusses this. G-d explains to Moshe Rabbeinu that a wicked person who prospers, is not considered a completely wicked person. G-d rewards him for the good deeds he does in this world. This is called, as Maurice explained, a צַדִּיק גָּמוּר Tzadik Gamur.

The righteous person who suffers is one who is not a completely righteous person. Because he does have some transgressions, he is punished in this world so that he will receive a complete reward in the World-to-Come. The wicked person who prospers is one who is not a completely wicked person. God rewards him in this world for the good deeds that he performed, so that he will receive a complete punishment in the World-to-Come.

Rav Moshe Feinstein (Darash Moshe al HaTorah, ArtScroll, p. 26) (1) explains that in most of his activities, Noah was a tamim, however, in the other matters, he was a tzaddik.

The reason why Noah was not completely a tzadik, was due to the fact that he was meant to put the abilities to good use. He was meant to guide the generation (Darash Moshe Al HaTorah, p. 27):

In his private life, Noah was unquestionably a tamim. In public affairs, however, he was required to guide and admonish his generation [...].

Furthermore, "Noah walked with G-d" implies that Noah, being a tamid, would spend all day alone with G-d, not dealing with the outside world, as the Ba'alei Brit Avram teaches us:

And the text says "complete" (tamim), for he was not like some of the righteous people who have erred and in the end changed course and turned over (towards righteousness). Rather, he had always been 'complete,' for he had no blemish or perversion. And, if you were to say, "How is it possible for him to have had this [quality]?" Then, say that the reason for this is "Noah walked with God." This is to say, that he never had any dealing with a human creature, but he would spend all day alone [i.e., with God].

However, the term "Tamim" needs a clarification. Was Noah considered a tamim of all generations? Instead, the pasuk is telling us that Noah was a tamim in his own generation, as explained by Rabbi Yitzchak Richmond from Kol Torah:

This serves as a basis for the opinion that Noach was Tamim only in respect to his generation, but relative to other Tzaddikim, he was not Tamim

This idea is further explained by the Ba'alei Brit Avram:

"A righteous man he was in his generations" is that he was as such in generations when people are not seen as righteous--throughout all of this, as if in all of his generations, both in the generation of his youth and in the generation of his old age.

The Akeidat Yitzchak, in his commentary to Bereishis 6:9 explains that the term halach is used when people, in their lives, are reaching towards a specific goal, coming closer to G-d in this example. When one feels that he is "distant", he tries everything he can in order to come closer to G-d. When he did everything in order to come closer to G-d, he is considered as if he "walked with G-d":

We find the expression halach, he walked, used in connection with most outstanding people, since their lives represented constant progress, movement towards a goal, an objective. "Enoch walked with the Lord." (Genesis 5,22) When one feels distant, one tries to come closer. Finally, when one has reached one's goal of closeness to G'd, we read "for the Lord took him." (ibid) Noach was a similarly motivated person. "Noach walked with G'd ."

The last commentary, given by the Me'or Einayim on Parashas Noach explains that Noach was not considered a completely righteouss man, although the Torah says so in Bereishis 6:9. But the intent of this pasuk is that Noach was "lacking the level of Avraham". Noach was attached to G-d, since G-d intended this, not through Noach's own efforts. Avraham was doing everything he could in order to spread G-dliness into this world. Noach was not speaking to everyone about G-d, about how wonderful G-d is. In that matter, he was not considered completely a tzaddik.

Reference list

(1) Klugman, E. M., Rohr, P. O., & Rosenberg, A. Y. (1994). Darash Moshe I: A selection of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein’s choice comments on the Torah (1st ed.). Mesorah Publications Ltd.

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