Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “An exceedingly problematic course of action.”

There is a well-known saying that Noah was the first example of the Yiddish expression, “a tzaddik in peltz” – a tzaddik wearing a fur coat.

What is a tzaddik in peltz?

When the cold weather comes, there are two ways of dealing with it.

One way is to turn on a heater; the other way is to wear a fur coat.

The result for the individual is the same: Whether one turns on the heater or wears a fur coat, he will be warm enough and can continue to function.

The difference is only regarding others.

When one turns on the heater, others will enjoy the warmth as well, whereas when one wears a fur coat, the individual becomes warm, but the others remain cold.

The problem with Noah’s ark was not that there was no need for an ark.

There was certainly a need for an ark, as otherwise it would have been impossible to escape the Flood.

But when Noah closed his ark so that others could not enter, that was an exceedingly problematic course of action.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

From Talks on the Parasha