In Parshat Bechukotai, the Torah says, ונתתי משכני בתוככם ולא תגעל נפשי אתכם, “I will place My sanctuary among you, and My spirit will not reject you” (26:11). This seemingly wonderful prophecy is one of the many Berachot found in Bechukotai. The second part of the phrase, however, appears a bit odd. ולא תגעל נפשי אתכם can also be translated as, “I will not be revolted by you.” If we are carrying out Hashem’s wishes and receiving blessings for it, why would the thought of being revolting to Hashem even cross our minds?
Rav Moshe Feinstein explains that the way a Mitzva is done has a great effect on its value. If it is done out of joy and love for Hashem, it is worth much merit. However, if it is done merely because one feels he is bound to the responsibility, it is unacceptable in the eyes of Hashem.
With this in mind, one can understand why the Torah says that Noach found grace in Hashem’s eyes. When carefully examining his repertoire, one can see that Noach had many flaws in his righteousness; however, because everything he did was out of joy and love, Hashem decided that He would overlook Noach’s flaws.
This is also related to the way Rambam explains the following statement of Rabbi Chananya ben Akashya: “The Holy One, Blessed be He, wished to confer merit upon Israel; therefore He gave them Torah and Mitzvot in abundance.” Rambam explains that the reason Hashem gave so many Mitzvot was so that every person could have at least one Mitzva that he could fulfill to the highest degree – with joy and love for Hashem.