Parshat Noah Shabbat Rosh Hodesh
I am sure many people can relate to the following situation, on either or both sides. A person asks a loved one for help on something or to do a task. The loved one does it. Time passes, and again, the loved one is asked to do a task. This happens many times. Eventually, the one who is requesting help gets frustrated. And the loved one, confused, asks, “why are you angry? I always do the task when you ask me to.” To which, the response is, “You do indeed complete the task when asked. But, I wish that I did not have to ask you.”
This week we read from Parshat Noah. The Parsha begins, “These are the descendants of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, wholehearted in his generation; Noah walked with God/אֵלֶּה תּוֹלְדֹת נֹחַ, נֹחַ אִישׁ צַדִּיק תָּמִים הָיָה בְּדֹרֹתָיו. אֶת הָאֱלֹקים הִתְהַלֶּךְ נֹחַ.” The Rabbis have always found this verse interesting. Why is Noah’s righteousness seen as relative, while Abraham, later, is described as righteous in more absolute terms? What is the difference between them? The Chernobyler Rebbe teaches, “It is known [from Kabbalistic teaching] that everything depends upon the arousal from below (אתערותא דלתתא)…We arouse ourselves to become attached to God from below. As we do so, we awaken in God, as it were, a desire to extend to us the flowing forth of divine goodness. Then the flow comes down from above, bearing blessing and compassion, life and peace.” According to this idea, we need to reach out to God in order for God to reach back. Our union is to be wonderful and complete only when we initiate. The Chernobyler further explains, “This was the great purpose of Creation: that we first arouse ourselves from below to walk towards God. When this does not happen, God forbid, and there is no arousal from our side, God Himself has to awaken us. But, in such a case we accomplish nothing. Noah was one in whom there was no arousal from below. God wanting the world to survive, had to arouse him first. He had to awaken in Noah the desire to cleave to him. This is [the meaning of] ‘Noah needed God to support him.’ Abraham our Father was strong in his righteous path, walking on his own, bringing about arousal from below.”
This is the difference between them. Noah is indeed righteous and wholehearted, but he was not able to run towards God without God’s help. And Abraham understands that God wants us to make the first move. Heschel writes, that “our seeking Him is not only man’s but His concern, and must not be considered an exclusively human affair.” Thankfully, God will always desire to be in relationship with us. We should not wait to be nudged and nagged. God is constantly singing to us, “I want you to want me.” We should run out the door before God has a chance to come up and knock. May we begin this new month with the desire to reach up. For our union to be sweet, it cannot simply be given to us, we have to want it.
 Gen 6:9
 The midrashic interpretation here is that if God is walking with Noah, that must mean that Noah needs help. Abraham, however, walks before God (Gen. 24:40) and is seen as not needing that kind of help.
 Rabbi Menachem Nochum Twersky of Chernobyl (born 1730, Norynsk, Volhynia - died 1787, Chernobyl, Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth) was the founder of the Chernobyl Hasidic dynasty. He was a disciple of the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid of Mezritch, and published one of the first works of Hasidic thought.
 R. Art Green, Speaking Torah, pg. 86
 The Midrashic interpret
 Ibid. pg. 87.
 Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man, pg. 136.
 Cheap Trick, 1977
Rabbi Ezra Balser has been the rabbi at Temple Beth Sholom since July 1, 2016. He received his “smicha” (ordination) in June 2017 from Hebrew College while also earning a Master’s Degree in Jewish Studies. He has also received the iCenter's Certification in Israel Education.