Parashat Noach begins with an introduction of Noach (Noah) and states that he was a righteous man, blameless in his age and walked with Hashem.
אֵ֚לֶּה תּוֹלְדֹ֣ת נֹ֔חַ נֹ֗חַ אִ֥ישׁ צַדִּ֛יק תָּמִ֥ים הָיָ֖ה בְּדֹֽרֹתָ֑יו אֶת־הָֽאֱלֹהִ֖ים הִֽתְהַלֶּךְ־נֹֽחַ׃ (Bereishit 6:9)
Our sages explain that Noach and his descendents were to be a positive influence among their fellows and in the spiritual realms. He was told by Hashem to warn the people of his generation of the impending retribution; including motivate them to improve their conduct. However, anytime someone asked why he was building the ark, he said that Hashem was going to send a flood because of the corruption on Earth.
Other than his family, unfortunately, Noach wasn’t able to inspire any of the people around him to change. He didn’t develop any followers. Why wasn’t extending the message to others important to him? After the sin of the Golden Calf, Moshe could not accept that Hashem wanted to destroy the Jewish people. He served them up until this point, and could not see being without his people. He pleaded before Hashem:
וְעַתָּ֖ה אִם־תִּשָּׂ֣א חַטָּאתָ֑ם וְאִם־אַ֕יִן מְחֵ֣נִי נָ֔א מִֽסִּפְרְךָ֖ אֲשֶׁ֥ר כָּתָֽבְתָּ׃ (Shemot 32:32)
“Now, if You will forgive their sin [well and good]; but if not, erase me from the record which You have written!”
Therefore, he was successful in saving them, and ultimately, in inspiring them. By contrast, Noach was happy to go into the ark with his own family. Both of these accounts can teach us a lot about ourselves. We are all leaders in some capacity; whether in our homes, offices, places of worship, and/or in our communities. Each of us has been given gifts from Hashem that we can use to serve others. The question is will we only influence those closest to us or will we strive to be a light to the broader community, and if possible, the world?
My hope is that each of us look inside at the qualities that we have been given and figure out how to use them as a light to the broader community and to be a force for good.