Re: Noah

Isaac A Zlochower (
Wed, 25 Dec 1996 13:40:28 -0800

In TF V3#2 Rachel wrote:
> After re-reading Noah again I can't help but wonder why Hashem didn't give
> the people a chance to repent? He didn't even warn them, only Noah. Was
> repentance an option? Would Hashem have changed his mind if they repented?
> And if so, Why didn't Hashem tell the people about the Mabul?
> After the Mabul, when Hashem says He'll never destroy the earth like that
> again, I get the feeling He was sorry He did it. If He warned the people
> maybe it could have been avoided.
> Wondering if anyone has any comments.

The possibility, desirability, and ultimate inevitability of repentance by
humanity is an oft repeated theme in all the books of the Torah. We refer
to such passages during prayer, particularly on Yom Kippur. A few examples
should suffice: "When all these predictions happen to will
return to your 'heart' in the midst of all the peoples where G-D, your
L-rd, shall have dispersed you...G-D, your L-rd, will return your captives
and have compassion on you." (Deuteronomy 30:1-3) "For I do not desire
anyone's death, says the L-rd, G-D; return and live." (Ezekiel 18:32)

Clearly, G-D wants people to repent before it's too late. In the times of
Noah, the first warning was ,apparently, given 120 years before the Flood,
"G-D said, My Spirit shall not contend with humanity forever, for he is all
flesh; his time will be 120 years (longer)." (Genesis 6:3). This statement
was communicated, apparently, to Noah either when he was first instructed
to build the ark (Rashi), or before that instruction. In any event, it
took years to complete the building of the ark, and Noah's neighbors had
ample time to reflect on the matter. Apparently, no one took Noah
seriously, and non one chaqnged their ways. G-D did not directly tell Noah
to carry the message about a pending disaster, since he was not up to the
role of a prophet. Noah had some influence on his own family, but not,
appparently, on anyone else. He could, therefore, only save his family.
Had he been more like Abraham, then many more would have been saved or the
calamity, averted.

After the Flood, G-D promised that He would never again cause such a
calamity since humanities inclination to evil is due to immaturity
((Genesis 8:21). Apparently, one such punishment was considered necessary
and sufficient to put humanity back on track.

Yitzchok Zlochower