When Noah Met Abraham

August 10th, 2020 Posted by Thought Tools 32 comments

I know a lawyer who really wishes that he was a rabbi.  I also know a rabbi who really wishes he was a doctor.  Have you met the plumber who really wishes he was a poet or the bookkeeper who really wishes she was a ballerina?  The lawyer is doing nothing to change his profession and neither is the rabbi. The plumber only dreams of writing and the bookkeeper only dreams of dancing.

Do I hear you say, “No harm in fantasy”?  Wrong! Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that fantasizing makes us less happy with our reality.  Remember that lawyer harboring secret rabbinic dreams? Well, he’s less effective at his work.  That rabbi daydreaming of replacing his dark suit with green scrubs has no passion for his profession.  Deep down that plumber is dissatisfied with fixing faucets and as for that want-to-be ballerina, her clients get less of her enthusiasm than that faded old tutu in her closet.

Lingering thoughts of roads not traveled infiltrate all our minds, so how do we generate focused passion for what we actually are doing?

Let’s become flies on the wall for what must have been one of history’s most extraordinary meetings.  But first, a little Genesis arithmetic. Let’s say Adam was created at the beginning of year 1 and died in the year 930.  (Genesis 5:5)

It is easy to calculate that ten generations later, Noah was born in the year 1056 and died in the year 2006 at the age of 950 years-old.  (Genesis 9:29)  Meanwhile, in the year 1948, Abraham was born, which means that at the time of Noah’s death, Abraham was 58 years old.

Do you think it feasible that Abraham, a spiritual seeker, would not have sought out the elderly Noah?  It is impossible to fathom Abraham not seeking a meeting with the man whom God had directly instructed to build the ark and who was the living ancestor of everyone on earth.

What did they discuss?  They might have discussed their families.  Or perhaps they discussed the pain and peril of adult genitourinary operations.

That is merely conjecture but what they certainly did discuss was the value of trying to save others by bringing them God’s word by outreach and evangelism.  Noah would have argued against it because we know he never engaged in evangelism.  When God warned of the impending destruction of humanity, Noah neglected the opportunity of trying to persuade the population away from their wicked ways.  He merely built an ark and saved himself and his family.

Abraham, by contrast, never missed an opportunity to talk to people about God.  He regularly invited strangers into his tent to share a meal during which he shared his faith.  Noah silently accepted God’s decree on humanity whereas Abraham argued with God in a vain attempt to save the inhabitants of the doomed city of Sodom.  Noah kept his relationship with God to himself.  Abraham couldn’t stop talking about it.

Which man was more successful?  To be sure, Noah did save his family but Abraham launched a movement of God-fearing and Bible-believing people numbering in the millions and which endures to this day even after the passage of thousands of years.

Talking enthusiastically about your work not only signals your passion but it also serves to augment that passion.  Another way to increase the passion you have for the things you must do is to increase your professionalism.  The pride felt by a professional is almost palpable and nurtures itself.

Increasing one’s professionalism is the surest way to increase how enthusiastically one tackles one’s work.  These are ten actions that build one’s professionalism:

  • seize responsibility and accept accountability for your work
  • be punctual in all your work commitments
  • be consistently pleasant and polite in all work encounters regardless of your mood
  • speak and write like an educated adult
  • be sufficiently serious as frivolity is not professional unless you’re a paid comedian
  • dress with dignity
  • expand your skills and improve them constantly
  • never yield to your anger
  • be reliable
  • deliver more than expected

So banish those daydreams and enjoy whatever it is you do by becoming ever more professional about it.  Of course, if you really mean to make a major life change, then don’t just dream of doing it; do it.  But if you are retaining your current occupation, you’ll discover unsuspected delights by embracing professionalism.  These delights will far exceed anything available through fantasies and daydreams.

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32 comments

Steve Tedrow says:

Much wisdom in your thoughts and tools. Question: some time back I found writings about Abram’s youth, found it fascinating, but unsure of its source, and whether it could be relied upon. Here is a link to the story: [URL removed] [Ed. We regret that on policy we never publish URL’s since we don’t have the resources to check them all out before publication.]
Do you find it historical?
Thanks, and blessings on you and Susan.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Thanks Steve–
There are reliable accounts in ancient Jewish wisdom regarding Abraham’s youth because without any background on his rejection of idolatry as a boy and his subsequent discovery of God, it is hard to understand why God speaks to him out of the blue, as it were, in the start of Genesis 12. Some of these accounts report on how he destroyed idols in his father’s idol shop and so on.
Cordially
RDL

Laurie says:

Embrace professionalism! Yes! Thank you, Rabbi.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

You’re welcome Laurie-
And those principles of professionalism were never taught better than by our mutual friend, the late great Zig Ziglar and now so effectively by his son, the magnificent Tom Ziglar.
Cordially
RDL

Teresa Phillips says:

Perhaps Noah never evangelized because he was the only one “perfect in his generations”, which means his DNA was not corrupted. Corruption of the human DNA would have started when some of the angels rebelled and took human wives. Over a long period of time, eventually all humankind was corrupted and if God had allowed it to continue, then there would be no bloodline for the Savior to come into the world. There has been sin and evil in the world all along, so it had to be something significant for God to intervene and start all over. Those with corrupted DNA couldn’t be saved because DNA possibly includes our “spiritual software” so-to-speak that connects humanity to God, our creator. There is much mystery still to be discovered regarding DNA . . . . those are just my thoughts from studying. Is this a possibility in your opinion, Rabbi Lapin?

Ndodana Sibanda says:

Dear Teresa

I like the spiritual software part thank you

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Teresa,
Thanks for such a thoughtful letter; since you ask my view on whether the theory you cite is a possibility, I am exempted from the social nicety of placing courtesy ahead of veracity. Therefore I answer that no DNA was corrupted and it wasn’t angels that took human wives. For the full and authentic ancient Jewish wisdom on this, please see https://rabbidaniellapin.com/product/the-gathering-storm-2-audio-cds/ and you’ll see exactly what happened and why it had to lead to the flood. It’s also very relevant to the turbulence in the world today.
We can and only do teach on the Old Testament through the lens of faithfully transmitted ancient Jewish wisdom.
Cordially
RDL

Timothy Jones says:

I realized this a few years ago. That Abraham could have met Noah. Perhaps Shem also. I would have loved to hear that conversation.

Gidon Ariel says:

Rabbi Lapin, another out of the park grand slam. Thank you.

Timothy, there is a famous Jewish tradition that Shem and his great great grandson Eber had a study hall (bet midrash) for Torah study in which Jaco among others studied.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Thank you Gidon,
That is such a kind word especially coming from you who has labored long and hard in these vineyards. As I told Timothy, for years I have dreamed of witnessing the conversation when Abraham knocked on Shem’s door and said, “Hi, I’m Abe, and some of my students and followers have been telling me that you’ve been teaching about God for years already. I don’t know why we haven’t met till now!”
Cordially
RDL

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Oh yes, Timothy–
For years I have dreamed of witnessing the conversation when Abraham knocked on Shem’s door and said, “Hi, I’m Abe, and some of my students and followers have been telling me that you’ve been teaching about God for years already. I don’t know why we haven’t met till now!”
Cordially
RDL

Cindyc says:

Great advice. Thank you.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

You’re so welcome Cindy,
Cordially
RDL

JustHereToHear says:

I have much to learn from this particular piece. Thank you dear Rabbi.

Janice says:

Thank you for this insight into job satisfaction. I’ve always enjoyed the work I do and the points you make are a part of my life every working day. I love helping and serving people and God has blessed me with a job where I can do this.

Bambang Dewandaru says:

What do Noah and Abraham appearance (dis) similarities as a result of around 950 years. I remember Joseph’s boss amazement when seeing his father appearance after he had been complaining for many years. How old are you? said he.
Thankyou Rabbi for the insight.
Bambang D, Jakarta, Indonesia

Richard Jenny says:

Another good life lesson. And maybe Abraham was saved from Nimrod as a newborn/toddler and was raised by Noah. Have you ever heard that angle?

Teresa Phillips says:

Richard, I have studied that. It’s in the ancient Book of Jasher that tells that Abram spent years with Noah & Shem. Fascinating reading. Also explains why Lot ended up tagging along with Abram . . . . because Abram’s older brother, Haran, was burned in the fire/furnace ordered by Nimrod.

Vickie L Sanderson says:

What a treasure this weeks teaching is, Rabbi! Not that all teachings are not treasures, however, this week’s chest has gigantic diamonds in it. Thank you for this blessing.

John says:

Where did the Christian NT get the idea that Noah was a “Preacher of Righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5)? The commentaries I can find that say anything about this merely say it was a “Jewish tradition” (the Jubileess) or deduce it as necessarily true of a man “who walked with God”

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

You’re so welcome Vickie–
Great to hear from you
Cordially
RDL

Anita Brownstein says:

I was moved by your comment about dressing with dignity at work. Thanks for your thoughts on professionalism and its positive result on one’s own happiness.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

You’re so welcome Anita–
We appreciate your kind words. Not everyone can grasp the wisdom of dressing appropriately and being professional so we’re grateful you do.
Cordially
RDL

Deron Smith says:

OK, I agree with your overall point, but Scripture (Specifically 2 Peter 2:5) says [God] preserved Noah, a preacher (or herald) of righteousness,… Are you saying Peter was not speaking by the Holy Spirit and doesn’t know what he’s talking about? Noah also did what Abraham did, but no one listened.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Deron–
We can and only do teach on the Old Testament through the lens of faithfully transmitted ancient Jewish wisdom. So I am not saying anything about Peter. I am only able to speak to how I was taught by my masters and make of it what you will. According to ancient Jewish wisdom, the reason Noah’s qualities are qualified with the words “In his age” “This is the line of Noah.—Noah was a righteous man; he was blameless in his age; Noah walked with God.—” (Gen 6:9) was precisely because he did NOT do what Abraham later did. More info here: https://rabbidaniellapin.com/product/the-gathering-storm-2-audio-cds/
Cordially
RDL

Rick Wilshe says:

Great advice which I will take to heart in my own business.

Now if I could just figure out how to live to be 950…

Thank you Rabbi!

Ndodana Sibanda says:

I did my own calculations at 16 according to my findings Methuselah, Lamech died around the year of the Flood. Now let me go back to finish up your post.
Thank you sir

Sonia P. says:

I heard from a Seminary professor that the name “Methuselah” means “When I die, it will come.” He said this referred to the coming of the Flood. He has us all picturing the people around Methuselah calling the doctors any time he had a sniffle, hoping to prolong his life indefinitely!

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Sonia–
Sorry to say that what you were told ain’t so. Methuselah (or to be accurate Metushelach) The reason he assumed what he did is because the first two consonants do spell out death but they don’t mean ‘when I die’. The final syllable ‘shelach’ doesn’t mean come, it means send.
But the image you paint is funny and endearing.
Cordially
RDL

Nnenna says:

Thank you Sir,
You’ve made this matter clear to me because I engage in this act of daydreaming. Though to ease tension and make myself happy

Benjamin Salinas says:

Great insight! Needed to hear this today! Thank you Rabbi!

ELIZABETH says:

In the Christian “New Testament” Noah is described as a “preacher of righteousness”
I believe he preached about the deluge, but nobody listened. They mocked him

2 Peter
4For if God spared not angels when they sinned, but cast them down to hell, and committed them to pits of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; 5and spared not the ancient world, but preserved Noah with seven others, a preacher of righteousness, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;

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