Visit the New 92Y Blog



n4_92Y_websiten4_92YTribeca_website
92Y Blog
Friday, October 28, 2011
92Y Guest Blog: Connecting To The Weekly Torah Portion With Rabbi David Kalb

image

Rabbi David Kalb is the Director of Jewish Education for the Bronfman Center for Jewish Life at 92nd Street Y. At 92Y Rabbi Kalb directs and teaches a variety of different learning programs for a range of ages. He also officiates at Jewish life cycle events and serves as a Jewish resource to the entire professional staff and lay leadership of the 92Y. Today he wrote the following guest blog for 92Y:

What is a Tzaddik? - Noach

In this week’s parsha (Torah Portion), the Torah refers to Noach (Noah) as a tzaddik, a righteous person (Bereishit/Geneses 6:9). It is very rare in the Tanach (The Bible) and Jewish literature in general to find a person who is called a tzaddik. Moshe (Moses) does not receive this title; neither does Avraham (Abraham). Why then is Noach worthy of being referred to as a tzaddik? The French Medieval commentator Rashi comments that Noach was a tzaddik in his generation, but if he had lived in the generation of Avraham, he would not have been given the title tzaddik.

It is interesting to note that the Noach is being compared to Avraham. Of all the people Noach might be compared to, why is Avraham the one selected? The answer might be that both Noach and Avraham reacted differently to similar scenarios. Both were faced with immoral communities and the subsequent question of what God would do to those communities. The immorality Noach faces is that of the entire world, while Avraham in Bereishit/Genesis Chapter 18 and 19 deals with the immorality of the cities of Sodom and Amora (Sodom and Gomora). When Noach is confronted by the immorality of the entire World what does he do? He builds an Ark, gathers his family, places two of every species of animals and floats away. True, Noach was commanded by God to follow this course of action. However, why doesn’t Noach confront the people of the World to try and get them to improve their behavior? Why doesn’t Noach speak to God on behalf of the World, to show compassion to the people of the World despite their immorality?

Avraham does both of these things. The narrative of Avrham’s life is the story of an individual who reaches out to people, even those who are not the most spiritual and ethical of people and to bring them closer to the messages of monotheism and morality. Furthermore, even when he knows that he is dealing with immoral people, he nonetheless defends them to God. Avraham bargains with God to save the inhabitants of Sodom and Amora. Avraham is able to achieve a high level of righteousness without separating himself from the world, but can rather be a tzaddik in the context of the world. Unlike Noach who is sequestered away from the real world in the Ark. Perhaps, when the title of tzaddik is given to Noach it is given not as an incredibly powerful compliment but more to make us think about what it really means to be a tzaddik and what it really means to pursuer a life of spirituality and ethics.

Studying the stories of Noach and Avraham demonstrate two different paths to kedusha, holiness. Noach’s approach entails a separation from the world, building a fence between one’s self and everyone else. Avraham’s approach is about going into the world and reaching people within it. While there is a holiness Noach’s approach, I want to bless you all that we all pursue righteousness in the tradition of Avraham.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rav David

Learn more in a fascinating analysis of the central text of Judaism on January 3. Check out all 92Y Jewish Studies - First Class programs.

» Follow and Connect with 92Y on Twitter, Facebook and more!




Posted in Humanities Jewish Life All topics of 92nd Street Y at 10:25am | Email this item to a friend. Email This to a Friend | | Back to Main


Email this item to a friend. Email this item to a friend.
The email address(es) that you supply to use this service will only be used to send the requested item.


Highlights from the
92nd Street Y and 92YTribeca universe.
About 92nd Street Y
About 92YTribeca
Contact Us
Support Us

Sort By:
92nd Street Y Topics:
92nd Street Y News
The Arts
Humanities
Jewish Life
Family
Fitness
Interviews
Culture Klatsch
Podcasts
Tell Me Why
Shablog
92YTribeca Topics:
Music
Film
Theater
Comedy
Jewish Programs
Talks
Family Programs
Cafe
Tribeca Podcasts
Search 92Y Blog

Advanced Search
Archives
<   September 2014   >
s m t w t f s
1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30

February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
Recent Entries
Welcome to Podium! Issue Ten
From the Poetry Center Archive: Clare Cavanagh on Wisława Szymborska
Harkness Dance Festival Brings Exciting News
4 Tips To Getting The Most Out Of Your Tea
Are You Coming To The School Of Music Open House?
Subscribe
RSS Feed
Mobile Version
Email

UJA Federation of New York

Contact Us | Privacy Statement | Policies | Site Map | Help | Press Resources
© 2008 92nd Street Young Men's and Young Women's Hebrew Association
All Rights Reserved. Click here for directions
Web Accessibility and the 92nd Street Y