Parashat Noah: The Complete Sadik
Parashat Noah begins by describing Noah’s piety: "This the offspring of Noah – Noah was a righteous man, he was complete in his generations; Noah walked with G-d."
There are several seeming redundancies in this verse that require explanation. First, Noah’s name is repeated – "This is the offspring of Noah, Noah…" Secondly, Noah is described both as a "Sadik" and as "Tamim" ("complete"). What precisely is the difference between these two descriptions? Additionally, the term "Be’dorotav" – "in his generations" – seems unnecessary, as quite obviously, Noah was righteous only in the time period in which he lived. Finally, what is added by the final clause – "Noah walked with G-d"?
The explanation might be that the Torah here emphasizes that Noah excelled in both general areas of religious life – Ben Adam Ben La’Makom (a person’s responsibilities to G-d), and Ben Adam La’habero (a person’s responsibilities to his fellow). The name "Noah" is repeated to indicate that Noah was "Noah" – pleasing – to both G-d and his fellow human beings. He is described as a "Sadik," which refers to graciousness to other people, and also "Tamim," which denotes unbridled devotion to G-d, as in the verse, "Tamim Tiheyeh Im Hashem Elokecha" – "You shall be complete with Hashem your G-d" (Debarim 18:13). The Torah emphasizes that Noah was righteous "Be’dorotav" – "in his generations," meaning, in his relations with other people, while at the same time, "Noah walked with G-d," faithfully serving the Almighty. This is why Noah was deemed worthy of being rescued from the flood – because of his righteousness towards both G-d and his fellowman.
Torah life must encompass both realms. Just as we would never consider somebody "religious" if he feasts on Yom Kippur, so can we not consider somebody "religious" if he acts dishonestly, or if he is rude and insensitive. Right from the outset of the story of the flood, the Torah emphasizes to us that humanity was preserved in the merit of Noah’s being a complete Sadik, excelling in both his service of G-d and his interpersonal obligations. Both areas require equal emphasis, as it is the combination of "Ben Adam La’Makom" and "Ben Adam La’habero" that makes a person truly righteous and worthy of G-d’s assistance and protection.