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You’re not as lonely as it may seem

Friday, 8 October, 2021 - 12:28 pm

Being the good kid in a class of rowdy students can be demoralizing, depressing and lonesome. Trying to focus on excelling academically while everyone around you is having a good time is not a good recipe to thrive socially, but eventually pays off down the line.

The opening verse of this week’s parsha gives the following introduction of Noach. “Noach was a righteous and perfect man - in his generation.” In addition to calling Noach a good guy, the Torah makes note that despite the fact his generation was so appallingly corrupt, he managed to remain righteous. Why is it so important for the Torah to emphasize how lonely Noach was in his morality?

When G-d decided to destroy the world and save only Noach’s family and representatives of each animal species, He gave him 120 years to build a massive ark according to divine instruction. There was no Home Depot to purchase supplies from, nor a massive hangar in which he could build his boat-house in relative privacy. Every step of the process, from planting trees for lumber to actually constructing the unprecedented monstrosity happened in full view of the people around him and news of it reached everyone alive at the time.

He explained to them that the destruction of the world was imminent because of their behavior, and by improving themselves G-d’s decree could be averted, but they were beyond all hope of rehabilitation that all his warnings fell on deaf ears. No one took him seriously and his isolation only intensified.

Other than his three sons, Noach had no companionship at all. Nevertheless he persisted and the world was rebuilt after the devastation of the flood because of his courage and faith.

Noach’s loneliness serves as an empowering lesson for us today.

Often, doing the right thing can feel lonely. Eating Kosher food from takeout containers while everyone else at the conference dines on real china and cutlery; standing in a packed airport terminal wrapped in a Tallit and Tefillin reciting prayers for several minutes, or electing to skip an important sports game together with friends because it’s happening on Friday night. I’m sure you can find many other examples of how a Jew can feel lonely in a crowd, but Noach teaches us how to courageously swim against the current and be confident in the advantage of doing the right thing, even if it's unpopular. 

Unlike Noach who truly stuck out as one singular sore thumb amongst all his peers, a Jew is never truly lonely. We are part of a community of millions and the latest link in a glorious chain of many generations that did the same. We are certainly the minority, but when it comes to doing the right thing, numbers never matter.

On the contrary. Just as Noach weathered the storm of social isolation to preside over a new and refreshed world, the time is imminent when the light of Torah will inspire all humanity to live in true peace and tranquility with the arrival of Moshiach.


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