Parshat Noach has G-d proclaiming Noach as being both a “Tzaddik” (righteous), and “Tamim” (perfect). What’s tricky about that is that the term “Tzaddik” denotes a person that’s been accused of something and has been proclaimed righteous, while the term “Tamim” describes a person that required no defense or exoneration. So which one was Noach?
In “Darash Moshe”, Rav Moshe Feinstein explains that if you’re an individual, working on yourself and no one else, your goal should be to perfect your actions and in using the guidelines of the Torah to achieve that perfection. However, if you’re a leader, or in a position to influence others, many times that involves saying or doing things that can sometimes lead to allegations and accusations. For this reason, many people would rather stay away from communal affairs and lead a quiet life. However, G-d told Noach and us that although Noach could have kept to himself and become perfect, He preferred that he and we stand up for the Torah, even if it means facing opponents as a result. The biggest scholars of our past weren’t known as Tamim, but as Tzaddikim (righteous people), because they stood for something. And the best way for us to achieve this goal is to find ONE Mitzvah (consider reading Guard Your Toungue, learning an Aliya a day, outreach, supporting underprivileged and/or abused women and children, etc,) that we’re willing to embrace and stand up for. By becoming a “mini-Tzaddik” in one aspect, may we grow in rank, and one day become Tamim (perfect) Jews.