- Written by Rafi Jager
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Perhaps the answer lies in another teaching of the sages. The Torah says that Noach and his family went into the ark "because of the waters of the flood" (Genesis 7:7). From here the sages derive that Noach was mediocre in his belief because it took the pushing of the waters to force him into the ark. Obviously, this statement is not to be taken at face value. The Torah itself states that "Noach was righteous and walked with Hashem" (ibid. 6:9). There is no doubt that he was aware of Hashem and knew that His word was to be taken seriously. However, we are being told that Noach was lacking in his belief, a belief that was to be expected of him. Perhaps this is the explanation for Noach's inability to convince anyone to repent. One who, himself, is not totally knowledgeable of the truth he is teaching will not succeed in convincing others of its importance. They will sense that he is not firm in his own belief and will, ultimately, be turned away because of it.
In order for a change to take effect, one must have the intent in his heart, as he speaks with his words. Words do not have an effect until they are spoken with sincerity. Noach had something important to teach, which should have been taken seriously, but his lack of belief (on whatever level it may have been) was enough to take the effect out of his warnings to the people.