10 Facts You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Noach
Noach was born circumcised, he learned Torah, and the first person born with digits for fingers. 10 facts that you might not have known about the Flood's sole-survivor
Noach, a tenth-generation descendant of Adam HaRishon, was the only person to survive the Flood, together with his family, of course. 10 facts about the man who "found favor in the eyes of God," the individual the Torah testifies was "a righteous man, perfect [in his character] in his generation."
- The Yalkut Reuveni relates that from the creation of Man until Noach's birth people were born with webbed-hands; Noach was the first person born with fingers separated into digits. Until Noach, the midrash relates, "they didn't need to work the land... when Lemech noted that Noach was born with separated fingers he realized that such an innovation would be useful for agriculture."
- The Midrash Tanchuma says that when Noach was born, the world reverted to a state of functioning: "Before Noach was born, they would plant wheat and harvest thorns and thistles. Once Noach was born, the world reverted to the way it was, in which people reaped what the planted: they would plant wheat and harvest wheat."
- Noach was born circumcised. The Midrash Tanchuma (Bereishis 11) relates that "When the Holy One, blessed is He, said to Adam, 'Cursed be the ground for your sake; with toil shall you eat of it all the days of your life,' Adam responded to him, 'Master of the Universe, how long?' He said to [Adam], 'Until a person is born circumcised.'" The midrash continues, "When Noach was born circumcised, Lemech said, 'This one will bring about our consolation.'"
- Noach studied the Torah. Rashi derives this from the fact that Noach knew that he needed to bring seven kosher animals and two non-kosher animals. How else did Noach know which animals were kosher and which weren't? "Of all the tahor animals: that are destined to be tahor for Israel. We learn [from here] that Noach studied the Torah."
- The Midrash Tanchuma relates: "Our Sages said that Noach only passed away after he saw the world settled and after he saw the seventy nations that descended from him."
- "Noach sustained and cared for every animal... every species according to what it needed... straw for the camels, barley for the donkeys, etc." Our Sages elaborate and describe Noach's self-sacrifice, "Some animals ate at 9:00, some at 10:00 or 11:00, whereas others ate at night, midnight, or pre-dawn... For twelve months in the Ark, Noach didn't go to sleep - not during the day and not during the night. He was busy caring for all the creatures that were with him."
- The Yalkut Tehillim (37:728) notes that Avraham Avinu asked Malki-Tzedek, the king of Shechem, a.k.a. Shem, the son of Noach, "Through what merit did you leave the Ark?" Malki-Tzedek responded, "In the merit of the charity that we did there [in the Ark]." Avraham asked, "What charity could you do there? Were there poor people in the Ark?! The only people there were Noach and his family? With whom did you practice charity?!" He responded to Avraham, "With the animals - domesticated and wild - and birds. We didn't sleep; rather, we spent our time caring for each and every species." The midrash continues that Avraham declared, "If these people were rewarded for acts of 'charity' that were integral to their very survival, then if I do 'charity' with people - created in the image of God - how much more so [will I be deserving of reward]!"
- The Radak explains that Noach was saved from the Flood in the merit of serving the Almighty and educating his children to follow in his path. "Just as he served God, so too, he taught his children to do the same: to stray from the paths of the wicked, to serve the Almighty and cleave to Him, and that if they wouldn't [follow his path] they wouldn't be saved from the Flood."
- The Kli Yakar notes three attributes that Noach possessed: "The generation that was destroyed had perverted themselves through the sins of idolatry, sexual immorality, and theft... Noach was the very antithesis: He was 'righteous,' and refrained from theft; 'perfect [in his character], and refrained from sexual immorality; and 'he walked with God,' and did not turn toward foreign deities."
- Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz in his sefer Daas Torah (Bereishis 5:29) writes about Noach's tremendous trait of lovingkindness: "Noach is credited with granting the world with the innovation of 'rest,' though not a 'rest' of foolishness... a 'rest of love [of God],' etc. which found favor in the eyes of God. Through this innovation he was granted everlasting merit." Reb Yeruchem adds, "It's incredible: there were so many new innovations created which could have granted their innovators tremendous reward, had they only had the proper intention of performing lovingkindness..."