Floating Above It All — Lessons from Noach
“These are the children of Noah—Noah was a righteous man, perfect in his generations; Noah walked with G-d.”
There’s this age-old argument among the commentaries about what is meant by the seemingly superfluous word, "בדרתיו" – “in his generation.” Does it mean that Noach was a tzaddik, a righteous person, compared to the rest of his generation? Or despite them?
Either way we read it, there’s an inspiring takeaway hidden in these words. The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that some days you might feel as though you’re on a higher spiritual plane, that your surrounding environment won't have an impact on you, and you don’t need the added protection of the “ark” of Torah and Tefillah. Even on those days, the Rebbe says, learn from Noach, who, more righteous and perfect than anyone alive, still needed to enter the ark, a floating island of G-dliness.
Other days, though, you might feel like the only thing you have going for you spiritually is that looking around, you see that it could be so much worse. You feel like Noach, righteous only in comparison to his immoral and spiritually lacking contemporaries. But even on those days, when the waters of the world seem to threaten to wash us away, remember that that same Noach built the ark that saved the entire human race. No matter how spiritually imperfect you feel, you have the capacity to do that final good deed that the world has been waiting for and thereby save us all.
(Loosely based on a talk from the Lubavitcher Rebbe as adapted in the Kehot Chumash.)
Funnily enough, it turns out that I have two bandanas fitting for this parshah! If wearing bandanas isn't really your thing, I recently framed my Fedora Fun Bandana and I gotta say, I'm loving how it adds vibrant color to my desk!