These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, perfect in his generations; Noah walked with God. Bereishis 6:9
The Torah went out of its way to teach us that Noah was a righteous man. On a simple level this is understood as to why Hashem found favor to save Noah and not the rest of humanity. Yet, we look at Rashi and we find something rather amazing. There is actually an argument as to how virtuous Noah really was. Rashi brings the argument as to whether if Noah lived in the generation of Avraham Avinu, would he have been considered a righteous man, or would he have not have been considered anything of significance?
However, in a situation such as this one, it seems to me quite obvious that the two conclusions are actually based on the same factual foundation. In this, Chazal are teaching us a lesson that similar things, applied in a slightly different fashion, can have drastically different consequences. We find an example of this in the gemora Megilla as to whether the cities of Hodu and Kush were adjacent to one another, or whether they were on opposite ends of the world, and if King Achashveirus was a smart king or foolish one.
However, aside from that possibility also applying here, I heard another lesson that can be taken from the precise wording of Rashi. When Rashi brings the first explanation he says “There are those of our Rabbis who expound on this word as praise, and there are those who expound on it as deprecation”. Rashi does not say “there are those Rabbis” when talking about the negative interpretation. Rashi is hinting to us (though he is obviously quoting our Rabbis, because Rashi doesn’t quote a “regular” person) – he is teaching us a lesson: That when in our own lives we are faced with the option of expounding positively or negatively, we should choose to be positive people. Our Rabbis are teaching us to look at the bright side.
As Sukkos fades away, and people try to put into their memories something special from this Sukkos, there may be those who remember a rainy, miserable day, and there are those who will instead remember that as difficult as it was, they still were able to remain in the sukkah even with the inclement weather. In my memory, what is special about that rainy day was a phone call I received from one of the members of shul expressing his emotional distress because he really wanted to eat in the sukkah, and he was frustrated by the fact that Hashem was telling him “I don’t want your service.” Though this man may have been frustrated, to me it was one of the highlights of my day, showing me how important mitzvohs are to the members of my community. Sometimes even though there is negativity going on around us, we should find the positive.
There are others who told me how their wives scrambled to remove all their belongings from the sukkah and put them into the house, and continue as if it was no inconvenience at all.
Being brought up in America, rain falling was always an undesirable thing, getting in the way of our lives. When I came to Eretz Yisrael, and saw the joy and thankfulness that people expressed when it rained, it made me rethink Hashem’s handiwork. This year too, I reexamined the rains on Sukkos and now see them as a blessing.
Yes, the rains of the past Sukkos, have already sprouted positive results!