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.

  • Candle lighting this Friday evening October 28 is at 5:21 pm. Shabbat ends on Saturday night at 6:16 pm.
  • The New Shul’s Shabbat morning service is from 9 to about 11:45 am, followed by a kiddush-lunch open to all. This Shabbat, October 29, the kiddush-lunch is sponsored by Fay and Aubrey Palestrant in honor of their granddaughter Meital Rothchild, who recently became a bat mitzvah.
  • Minyanim during the week are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am, and on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings at 6:30 pm. Kabbalat is on Fridays at 6 pm (usually at our rabbis’ home – please contact us for directions).
  • Join us for a family Noah’s Ark Party on Sunday October 30 at 3:30 pm at a private home (contact us for the address). Bring your children and grandchildren!