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    Keeping his cool – No’ach

    17th century depiction of Noah

    No leader has it easy.

    Presuming that we can call No’ach the leader of the inhabitants, human and animal, of the Ark, there can be no doubt that he must have had countless problems with the population on his ship.

    The Talmud in fact states this explicitly, when it says that the lion struck out at No’ach when its food was late.

    Animals are of course entitled to be hungry, and lion-like hunger is no joke. But how did No’ach react?

    Anyone else would have been livid at the unfairness of the attack. The lion was hungry, certainly, but did it spare a moment’s thought for No’ach’s difficulties in housing, tending and provisioning such a large, diverse group?

    No’ach was probably at the end of his tether by now, but, says the Talmud, he endured without complaint the lion’s rebuke and anger and continued to tend it lovingly and patiently.

    Other human beings could learn from No’ach. Most of the criticism we get from others is unfair and ill-founded, but even if the critics have a point they could usually express it far more respectfully.

    Some of course make an art form out of nastiness and tactlessness. It is human nature to reply in the same tone and to make an international incident out of it.

    No’ach teaches us to keep our cool if we possibly can. The family situation in particular is frequently the arena for bitter retorts and recriminations, and families can fall apart for ever as a result.

    “You think I should make peace with my father/mother/son/daughter/ brother/sister?” is what we hear if we try to restore the broken relationship; “after what he/she/they said to me, how can anyone expect me to speak to them ever again?”

    But however grievous the provocation, is there really no way of finding it in your heart to forgive? However gravely one has been hurt, is there really no way to move on and be family again?

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