Last month I wrote of Noah being considered both "good" and "bad" by our sages. For the average person, Noah was a hero. And who does not love a hero? Superheroes may be fantastic but they are, realistically speaking, beyond our reach. We can fantasize about flying through the skies in our capes, climbing skyscrapers and rescuing damsels in distress, but at the end of the day, it is nothing more than wistful daydreaming. What bearing does it have on me and my life, me and my problems? The answer is, not much.
That is why to many of us Noah has such great appeal. He comes across as a hero, yet realistically possible to emulate.
The commentaries of Rashi, (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, French scholar of 11th century France), are universally accepted as the most basic tool for the understanding of prophets and the Torah (Bible) texts. Rashi describes Noah as a man of "small faith" who had doubts whether the flood would actually happen. In fact, according to Rashi, he did not enter the Ark until the rains started and the floodwaters pushed him in. Many look down on Noah, especially when they compare him to other Biblical superheroes, people of the stature of Abraham or Moses.
This is precisely what makes Noah "my kind of hero" to many of us. He was a regular person plagued by doubts and struggles with his faith. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, Noah did the job. He built the ark, brought in the animals, saved civilization and went on to rebuild a shattered world. Not bad for a "doubter." But, doubts, shmouts, he did what had to be done.
It is not the end of the world if we doubt things and do not get an answer to all our questions. The main thing is that we not become paralyzed by doubts. We can still do what has to be done, despite our doubts.
Of course, I would love to be able to answer every question every single one of my congregants ever has. But the chances are that I will not be able to solve every single person's doubts and dilemmas. And, frankly speaking, I am less concerned about their doubts than about their deeds. From a question nobody ever died. It is how we behave that matters most.
So Noah, the reluctant hero, reminds us that you do not have to be fearless to get involved. We do not have to be a "tzaddik" (righteous person) to do a mitzvah (a good deed in which you take some part of your mundane little world and make it higher). You do not have to be holy to keep kosher, nor do you have to be a professor to come to a Torah (Bible) class.
Perhaps the faith of Noah was a bit wobbly in the knees, but he got the job done.
My kind of hero.
Rabbi Konikov is director of Chabad of the Space and Treasure Coasts and can be reached at email@example.com.