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Parashat Noah - 5775

My friends,

This Shabbat we read the second portion in the Book of Genesis. It is about Noah. The Parasha begins with these words:

"This is the line (generations - or story) of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, he was blameless in his generations. Noah walked with G-d." (Genesis 6:9)

A well known Midrash debates whether "generations" denotes a compliment or a qualified praise. Those who praise Noah explain that, even at a time when everyone else was corrupt and evil, Noah stood out and was not influenced by his society and environment. How much more so, had he lived at a time when others were also kind and compassionate. Other sages say that "in his generations" indicates that, compared to everyone else in his generation, he was a Tzaddik, a righteous person, because everyone else was corrupt. Had he lived at a time when there were other good people, he would not have been considered a great Tzaddik.

Whichever way we consider Noah there is an important message for us: We are judged by the way we live in our own time, in our environment. We depend on the education and background we receive; however, we do not need to worry about whether or not we reach levels of other great individuals, as long as we do our best.

There is a beautiful Hassidic story about Reb Zushia. He explained to his disciples that he was worried from the day of judgment. Because if he were to be asked, "Why were you not as righteous or learned as Moses, Abraham or other great Jewish personalities," he would have an answer - because he was not Moses, Abraham or those other great persons. The question that he will not be able to answer, however, is if he is asked, "Why were you not Zushia? Why were you not true to yourself?"

Each one of us has great potential. On the day of judgment, we will be asked whether or not we did our best, in our own way and with our own abilities. Let's hope that we can all answer, "Of course. I did my best with my own resources, with my own abilities!"

I wish you a life where, in all of your endeavors, you do your best according to your own abilities.

Shabbat Shalom,

Avram