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Parshat Noach - Weissman Family

10/04/2013 05:16:08 PM


Parshat Noach                                                            Weissman Family

Two events dominate Parshat Noach: The flood which wiped out civilization while sparing Noach, and the Tower of Babel, where Hashem confuses the people who sought to build a city with a tower in its midst that would “reach the sky”. Each story serves as an important precursor to Avraham and the emergence of the Jewish people.  

Noach serves as an informative parallel and foil to Avraham.  In unethical and inhospitable societies, Noach and Avraham impressively retain and foster commitment to Hashem and His moral code.  Both tzaddikim are confronted with the destruction of a base civilization, society for Noach and Sodom for Avraham.  Their paths diverge as Noach continues to solidify himself against the surrounding culture, while Avraham confronts God and begs for the lives of the surrounding sinners.  Avraham models a righteousness which not only builds character and commitment, but demands responsibility and empathy for the surrounding peoples.  Avraham’s philosophy is expressed not only personal growth, but in reaching out and assisting others to grow as well.  

The oft-ignored Tower of Babel similarly serves as a powerful model for Jewish commitment.  The builders of Babel sought to build a city and a tower within it, that would “make for themselves a name”. Their inspiration was selfishness and pride.  Avraham, on the other hand, upon first arriving in the land of Israel “calls out in the name of Hashem”, focusing his attentions on publicizing the God as the Creator of the world.  Similarly, Hashem asks Avraham’s children to build a city with a tower, Jerusalem and the Temple therein.  The city, rather than serving as an expression of selfish pride and “making a name”, instead calls out to all nations in the name of God, inspiring commitment to ethical monotheism.

The Flood and Tower of Babel offer to selfish models of human society.  Both focused on personal needs and selfish grandiosity.  They serve as powerful foils to the altruistic society that the Torah wants us to create, committed to God, society, and others. 

Mon, August 10 2020 20 Av 5780