Dvar Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states: “Noah was a completely righteous man in his generation” (Gen. 6:9).
The Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 108a, is bothered by the seemingly superfluous words “in his generation.” What are these extra words coming to teach us?
There are two opinions: 1) Praise of Noah. Even in an evil generation he was righteous. However, if he were in a righteous generation, he would have been even more righteous. 2) Denigration of Noah. In his own generation he was considered righteous, but had he lived in Avraham’s generation he would not have been considered righteous in comparison to Avraham.
The Chasam Sofer, a great rabbi, explained that there really is no argument between the two opinions. If Noah would have stayed the way he was in his own generation, then in Avraham’s generation he would not have been considered that righteous. However, the reality is that Noah would have been influenced by Avraham and have reached even greater heights of righteousness.
What do we learn from this? We are all affected by our environment. When we are close to people of good character, we are automatically influenced in positive directions. Choose well your friends and your community … they strongly impact your life!