A Nation of Noahs

Friday, 20 October, 2023 - 7:06 am

I heard a remark from someone recently that Israel needs a Zelensky. When Ukraine was being attacked by a huge army and missiles poured down on Kyiv, President Zelensky stood proudly in the streets in his green shirt. That act of courage galvanized the support and willpower of the Ukrainian people. If only Israel had such a leader…

The more I thought about this comment, the more I realized how wrong it is.

Israel doesn’t need a courageous and charismatic leader to propel it forward.

Israel is a nation of thousands and millions of ‘Zelenskys.’

The stories pouring out of Israel, of common folk saving dozens of lives, of reservists rushing back to Israel from overseas voluntarily, of Jews across the world mobilizing with critical medical supplies, of Jews who don’t keep kosher cooking kosher food so all the soldiers can eat – are just a scintilla of proof that Am Yisrael Chai!


In this week’s Parsha of Noach, we read about a corrupt world and a calamitous flood.

One man stood out from the rest. As the Torah tells it, “Noah was a righteous man, he was perfect in his generations.” Why does the Torah emphasize that he was perfect in his generations? Why not just say he was perfect? Obviously, the Torah wishes to convey a message by contrasting him with the people of his era.

The Talmud offers two approaches.

Some Rabbis suggest that Noach was righteous despite the horrible influences of his times. Were he to be in another – more just – generation, he would have been even more righteous.

Yet, other Rabbis suggest that Noach was not a great tzaddik after all. He was only a tzaddik (righteous person) in comparison to the evildoers of his generation. Were he to be in the generation of the truly righteous (such as Avraham), he would pale in comparison.

The second interpretation begs the question: Why would the Torah want to disparage Noach? If he was not the greatest tzaddik, wouldn’t it be better for the Torah to stay silent rather than openly belittle the hero of our parsha? We know how careful the Torah is not to disparage others. This seems completely out of line.


The Lubavitcher Rebbe offers a profound insight – and inspiration.

If Noach were a ‘Superman’ type of Tzaddik, many of us would chalk up his successes to his larger-than-life spiritual prowess. And, we would not be motivated to emulate him.

So, the Torah goes out of its way to state that Noach was just a regular guy. A good guy indeed. But, an average good guy.

And this average good guy stood up to the influences of his times. He fought the fads and isms and stood resolutely for justice and morality. He did not cave. He worked diligently to heed the word of Hashem – despite the odds.


Mi k’amcha Yisrael! We are a nation of Noachs! We might be ordinary people, but we have extraordinary strength, purpose and commitment. It’s this call to greatness that is on full display right now. Despite the trying times, we are coming together and bringing mounds of goodness to each other and to the world.

We face daunting odds and have suffered unspeakable horrors.

But, each and every one of us can – and will – make a difference.

May we merit the true meaning of Noach – peace and tranquilitywith the coming of Moshaich now!

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