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The “Tzadik Tomim” of Our Generation

obormottel Thursday, 22 December 2016

The “Tzadik Tomim” of Our Generation

"נח איש צדיק תמים היה בדרתיו".

פירש רש"י: "ויש שדורשים אותו לגנאי; לפי דורו היה צדיק, ואילו היה בדורו של אברהם לא היה נחשב לכלום".

“Noach was a ‘Tzadik Tomim’ in his generation”. (Parshas Noach)

Rashi tells us: Some interpret the extra word “in his generation” to mean, that Noach was only a Tzadik in his own generation; however, if he were to live in the generation of Avraham Avinu, Noach would not have been considered anything!

The question is, can it be that Noach would not have been anything at all? Of course Noach would not have compared to our holy father Avraham, but would all of his Tzidkus not have been anything at all?! Consider a Tzadik and Gadol of a recent generation, a Kadosh V’Tahor, who learns 18 hours a day, and does every possible sacrifice for the sake of K’Vod Shamayim and Klal Yisroel; would he really be considered an absolute zero if he were in an earlier generation?

I heard a wonderful insight explaining this Rashi, which can be an immense Chizuk for all GYE members.

Imagine: we are told a tremendous Tzadik and Chasid is coming to our town. After inquiring about who this man is and what his high Madreiga is, we are told, “he keeps the laws of Shabbos, he won’t work on Shabbos under any circumstance!” We would laugh! Even a very basic observant Jew surely keeps Shabbos! Such a person is not a Tzadik or a Kadosh of any sorts. However, if we were told that this person lived in America during the early 1900s, and that the Nisayon of that time was Shmiras Shabbos, that there were Jews who learned Torah who still could not stand up to the Nisayon of Shmiras Shabbos, that this person was Moser Nefesh literally, losing his job week after week without anything to feed his family, for the sake of Shabbos, the we would understand.

Noach’s generation was one of Hashchasa, of total destruction. The Avodah of Noach was not to be Mekarev them, rather to stay to himself so as not to get influenced by the Reshaim. And indeed, Noach succeeded and was a Tzadik Tamim! The generation of Avraham Avinu, on the other hand, was different entirely. Avraham’s Avodah was to go out and teach the world the existence of their Creator. Avraham and Sarah had thousands of students. Avraham was the one who taught the existence of our Creator to the people of the world. Therefore, Noach’s Avodah of not getting influenced by the world and staying to himself, would have been entirely unacceptable in the generation of Avraham. For Avraham’s generation required an entirely different Mehalech of Avodas Hashem and Noach’s Tzidkus would have indeed been considered nothing and even wrong.

If we are told the Chazon Ish was a great Tzadik because he would not look at undressed women, we can rightfully assume that this is nothing! This wasn’t the Nisayon of his times in Europe or Bnei Brak of then, there probably was never an undressed woman walking past his apartment in the first place. His Tzidkus was in his Kol Hatorah Kula etc.

Each generation has its own Nisyonos and its own Avodah. What may be Tzidkus in one generation, in another may be nothing special. In our generation, there are, Baruch Hashem, countless Yeshivos and Kolelim. Learning Torah day and night is surely a great Mitzvah, but does not make one a Tzadik. We all learn Torah. Keeping the laws of Shabbos and kosher also does not make one a Tzadik. Nor is shaking the most beautiful Esrog, or eating only the most stringent Matzah.

In our generation, the true Tzadik, the Tzadik Tomim, is the one who is Shomer his Bris, the one who watches his eyes from the improper images surrounding him, and from terrible sights on the internet. The one who filters his devices, and controls himself, for the sake of Hashem, from all the sins which so many have fallen into. Similar to keeping Shabbos, which may sound basic but was definitely a Tzidkus in the America of then. In our generation, the Tzadik is he who is Kovesh his Yetzer. Who does not view that which is forbidden. Who does not fall into to the sins which so many Torah Jews have fallen into. The Tzadikim are those on GYE and the like, working on their recovery, and holding back from the sins and Nisyonos of our generation.