ShabbatshalomA couple of years ago during a double period of one of my classes, one of the students asked to leave the room to get some water, s/he was thirsty. I was in the middle of a point, so I asked the student to wait. The student continued to ask, saying s/he was so thirsty. I commented that I was also thirsty, that I would give a short break in a few minutes and could get a drink. During the break another student came back into the room with a cup of water and handed it to me. I looked at the student who said, "You said you are thirsty."

We are back to the beginning of the Torah reading cycle. This week we reading Parshat Noach, the well-known account of the devastating flood which HaShem brings due to the corruption that has overtaken humankind. In fact, this corruption was so pervasive, Rashi tells us that it affected the animals as well. What was the nature of the corruption? The Torah calls it Hamas. What is Hamas? It is such a breakdown of the society to a point that robbery, for example, became so commonplace that it was done in the open. Thieves did not even try to hide. There were no longer societal norms that governed the people.

HaShem sees this Hamas, this corruption. He has Noach build an Ark, bring his family and animals on board with the intent to start the human race over and it is Noach who is to be the progenitor of humanity. HaShem sees something special in Noach, for the Torah says, " . . . and Noach was righteous in his generation." Noach has garnered Divine favor for this righteousness and it is this trait that HaShem wants as the "new genesis" of the human race.

Today is the first day of Rosh Hodesh Marcheshvan. We have just spent the month of Tishrei celebrating, doing Teshuva and reflecting on how to become better people. Marcheshvan is a month without any holidays. Marcheshvan is the month to begin to put into action those promises we made to ourselves for improvement. When HaShem looked for an individual to be the model for the rest of humanity he chose Noach, not for his wealth, not for his brilliance, not even for his charm, rather for his righteousness, for his Chesed. It is chesed, righteousness, that is the first piece of humanity.

Shabbat shalom, Hodesh Tov

Rabbi Yaakov Traiger