נֹחַ אִישׁ צַדִּיק תָּמִים הָיָה בְּדֹרֹתָיו (בראשית ו:ט)
We are standing after the yomim nora’im, charged with emuna and bitachon in HaKadosh Baruch Hu. As we now look at Noach, ish tzadik tamim b’dorosav, who tried to influence those around him to lead a proper life by following in the way of hashem. Yet, he was not successful. Not even ONE person was affected by his effort. We ask ourselves “Why? What was lacking? What went wrong?”
I would like to offer a possible explanation: Chazal compare Noach to Avraham, those say that if he had been in a generation of Avraham, he would have been insignificant (Rashi quotes chazal: ואילו היה בדורו של אברהם לא היה נחשב לכלום(. How could we understand a person that HaKadosh Baruch Hu calls a “Tzaddik,” but Chazal refer to as “insignificant.” The simple understanding is comparatively (e.g. Noach was a tzaddik compared to the men of his generation, but would not be a tzaddik compared to the men of Avraham’s generation), but that also needs an explanation, because being a “tzaddik” is unbelievably far removed from being “כלום.”
Avraham Avinu’s spent his life in an energetic quest to convert all people to the belief of monotheism—and he was successful, bringing them to Hashem in droves. Where did his success lie, and where did Noach’s failure lie? The answer to the question, I think, is found in understanding what it means not only to believe, but to be excited in what one is doing. Avraham Avinu did not need any signs from Hashem to reach out to the masses. Thus he was successful. Noach, on the other hand, though he was a tzaddik, he was lacking that enthusiasm to affect people. Therefore, possible he was no successful.
This Shabbos is a “world class” Shabbos, our opportunity to reach out and affect others. We should learn from Avraham Avinu’s example not only to go through the motions, but to actually be excited about being Torah-true Jews as the children of Avraham, we will definitely reap success.