“Noah was a righteous man; he walked with God,” we read at the start of this week’s Torah portion. How righteous? So righteous that he didn’t find time for sleep duration of his time on the ark! In response to the very practical question of who cared for the animals brought onboard by twosies (or sevensies in the case of Kosher animals), Midrash Tanchuma writes: “Certain animals were fed the first hour of the day, others at the second, still others at the third; while some animals were fed at the third of night, others at midnight, and still others at the time of the crowing of the cock. Our sages declared that during the twelve months in the ark, Noah slept neither during the day nor at night because he was occupied constantly with feeding the creatures in his care” (Noah 2:5).
More than an expression of Noah’s righteousness, however, from this we are also learn practical guidance. As our pets are dependent upon us for their well-being, we are taught that we are to channel Noah and tend to their needs before our own. This means feeding them before we feed ourselves!