One of the loves of my life is being a student of the Hebrew Scriptures. A part of those studies includes meditation, a time of mentally chewing and pondering something I have read or a new understanding of a Hebrew word or passage, this meditation may go on for hours, days and even weeks.
In 2016 my studies sparked a new interest, an interest in learning what ever I could about Noah, I am always on the lookout for books and Jewish teachings on Noah, his life before and after the Flood.
One of my new additions to my library is a book about Noah according to the Midrash Rabbah.
Before I continue, for those who may not be familiar with the Midrash Rabbah, below is a brief description.
“Midrash Rabbah, one of the monumental productions of Rabbinic literature. It is an essential commentary on the Torah, containing a treasury of homiletic, ethical, and moral interpretations of the Scriptures as expounded by the Rabbis during Talmudic times.” (An excerpt from product description on amazon.com)
Shortly after getting into my new book, I came across one of those things that caused me to pause and ponder what I had just read. The more I pondered it, I knew that this was something to share with my readers.
“Other interpretations of the name of Noah make reference to the sacrifice that Noah made when the Ark alighted. It says that God smelled a sweet savor. In Hebrew, sweet is ‘nichoach’. The Tiferet Tzion adds the beautiful thought that it was not the offering that had the sweet savor, but the person who brought the offering with character and good deeds was the real sweet savor that pleased God.” Noah – The Flood And The Failure Of Man According To The Midrash Rabbah by Wilfred Shuchat pg. 24
Let’s now take a look at a passage from the Torah, lets look and see what the Creator has to say about Noah.
Genesis 6:9 “These are the generations of Noah. Noah was in his generations a man righteous and whole-hearted; Noah walked with God.”
The Creator tells us that Noah was righteous and whole-hearted. The Hebrew word translated as whole-hearted is ‘tamim’ which can be translated as ‘complete or perfect’ and Rabbi Nachman of Breslov taught that it can also denote simplicity.
In Genesis 6:9 an image of the type of man Noah was begins to form, a man who was righteous and who simply observed the instructions of the Creator given to him.
From verses 13-21 of Genesis 6 we find the Creator giving instructions to Noah about the ark, then in verse 22 the Creator gives us more details about the man, Noah.
Genesis 6:22 “ Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him"
It was the character of Noah to simply do what the Creator asked of him. Before the Creator instructed him in building the Ark, he was already following the Creator’s behavioral instructions that was passed down to him from Adam, this was the righteousness the Creator saw in him. Because of his character trait of obedience, he was chosen to not only build the Ark but also through him, mankind was saved from total destruction.
…the person who brought the offering with character and good deeds was the real sweet savor that pleased God.
This part of the above quote from my book on Noah is what caused me to pause and to ponder what it was saying – I hope it causes you to pause for a moment, and to ask yourself the same question I did.
Are my actions and my character a sweet aroma before the Creator?
Terry W. Hayes
Photo Credit: Me