Finding Favor in the Eyes of God
By: Rabbi Barak Bar-Chaim
“And the Lord said, “I will blot out man, whom I created, from upon the face of the earth, from man to cattle to creeping thing, to the fowl of the heavens, for I regret that I made them.” And Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” (Genesis 6, 7-8)
From these verses, our sages in the Midrash understand that even Noah did not merit, in his own right, to be saved from the destruction of the world. The only reason he survived was because he somehow found favor in the eyes of God; It is interesting to note that this is reflected in Noah’s name. In Hebrew, Noah’s name is comprised of the Hebrew letters chet and nun, which also spell out the Hebrew word chen (meaning favor or grace).
The Hebrew word for free/undeserving is chinam, which shares the first two letters of the word chen (meaning grace). One of the thirteen attributes of mercy is that God is chanun, meaning that we appeal to God to extend mercy upon us and to help us even though we do not truly deserve God’s kindness. Our forefathers understood the tremendous importance of being a recipient of God’s deep compassion and, therefore, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all blessed their children to have the attributes necessary to draw on this deep level of undeserved kindness from God.
None of us can say we truly deserve anything and we could never repay God for the gift of even one moment of life. It is therefore important for us to discover ways to find favor (chen) in the eyes of God and to thereby merit God’s divine grace (chen.) How do we go about attaining grace and favor in God’s eyes and in the eyes of others?
Our sages learn from a verse in the book of Proverbs that studying Torah in a deep and profound way brings grace and favor to a person. Deep Torah study brings a person grace. I would like to suggest an additional technique to bring a person chen. Often in our interpersonal relationships we tend to feel the need for reciprocity. If we give more than someone else does we feel that that person is no longer deserving of our benevolence. If we were to suspend our balance sheets and simply focus on something good or special in another person and continue to bestow kindness despite the lack of reciprocity we would be emulating God’s attribute of chen. We know that God’s interaction with us is always exactly measure for measure. When we show this benevolence God too will suspend all balance sheets and focus on the good within us. We will thereby merit divine grace and favor.