The New Shul

Parshat Noah

Parshat Noah begins by telling us that Noah was “a righteous man in his generation.” In an ancient midrash cited by Rashi, the rabbis interpreted the words “in his generation” as a kind of disclaimer. Noah was righteous only by the very-low standards of his time. Had he lived in the time of Avraham, he would not have been anything special.

We can take that message as a criticism of Noah. But we can also take it as a back-handed challenge to the rest of us, a reminder that not being Avraham is no excuse. It is easy to say that, since I am not Avraham, nothing much can be expected of me. But Noah was not Avraham either, and, even so, he made all the difference in his generation.

To compare ourselves to Avraham or other great figures is to let ourselves off the hook too easily. The real question that we ought to ask ourselves is: What difference can I make in a world that has no Avraham, but that does have me? Our work, as human beings, is to try to understand what God asks of us in our own generation.

  • The New Shul’s Shabbat services are on Friday evenings from 6 to 7 pm, and on Saturday mornings from 9 am to 12 noon. This Shabbat, October 13, the kiddush-lunch will be sponsored by Roberto Levy and Laura Tieger.
  • Childcare is available from 10 am to noon on Shabbat mornings.
  • Minyanim during the week are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am, and on Monday and Wednesday evenings at 7 pm.
  • On Sunday evening October 14 at 7 pm, The New Shul will host a panel discussion on the theory and practice of Shabbat. The event is co-sponsored by the Women’s Leadership Institute, and is free and open to all.
  • Join us for Friday night dinner at the shul on October 19, following the 6 pm service. The cost is $18 per adult, and $9 per child under 13 (no charge for children under 5). Please make your reservation by Monday October 15.
  • Wise Aging, a group discussion and support program for seniors, begins at The New Shul on Wednesday October 24 at 3 pm, and continues every other Wednesday through December 19. To learn more or to register, please contact us.
  • On Shabbat Vayera, October 27, we will celebrate the bar mitzvah of Isaac Don, son of David and Rachael Don.