Just imagine what it felt like to be Noah. God speaks to you. Lets you know that He is going to destroy the world. Instructs you to build an ark and save yourself, your family, and two of each animal. If you are a PJ Library recipient like my family, you have likely received many books imagining what it was like on the ark. How the animals smelled, fought with each other, etc. What I think about most is how Noah must have felt knowing that the entire world around him was being destroyed. That his neighbors, friends, and entire community would cease to exist after the flood.
In this week’s Torah portion, which narrates the flood, we are told that Noah was a good person a number of times. However, one of the descriptions is qualified. We are told that Noah was “righteous in his generation.” Our Rabbis never miss a detail or description and numerous commentaries discuss what this meant.
We are told that Noah wasn’t actually that righteous. He just lived in a pretty sinful generation and compared to his peers he was a decent person, but he wouldn’t have held a candle to a leader like Abraham. Evidence of this is the way that Abraham acted when God told him that he was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham argued, debated, and negotiated with God with the hope that God would change his mind and not destroy this town. However, when Noah was faced with the destruction of the entire world, he didn’t even push back, he just started building the ark.
Our Rabbis conclude that the fundamental weakness in Noah was being self-interested. Instead of using his righteousness to change the world around him, he focused on himself and his own safety and security.
My challenge for our school community this week is actually to be a little less like Noah. To not only focus on your own success, but to concern yourself with the success of others. This can mean checking in with a friend who is looking down. Helping a student in your class who needs to understand the instructions of an assignment. Being your teacher's helper if they are implementing a complicated program or activity in the room. Our students are primed to do that. Last Friday, as I walked around our Chavurot, I saw so many students caring for one another, inviting their peers to take part in activities, modeling good behavior for one another, and ensuring that no student felt left out. One of the most beautiful scenes was watching our Middle School students come find their younger buddies and guide them to their Chavurot.
We are blessed to live in the kind of community where if there was a flood or disaster, we wouldn’t only care for ourselves, we would take care of one another too.
Have a great week,