“You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you.” — Genesis 6:19
The Torah portion for this week is Noach, from the name of the main character, Noah. It is from Genesis 6:9 –11:32, and the Haftorah is from Isaiah 54:1–55:5.
Jewish tradition teaches that King Melchizedek of Salem, who we will meet later during the time of Abraham, was also known as Shem, the son of Noah. When Abraham met him, he asked him a question that Abraham must have wondered about for years.
“Why did you merit (deserve) to be saved from the flood when the rest of the world perished?” asked Abraham.
“Because we took care of the animals inside the ark,” answered King Melchizedek.
Jewish tradition teaches that Noah and his family were saved because of their kindness toward God’s living creatures.
The Jewish sages teach that the way we deal with others is the way that God will deal with us. If we are loving, God will be loving toward us. If we are forgiving, God will be forgive us. If we have mercy on God’s creatures, then He will have mercy on us. And if we live a life of doing kindness for others, it will come right back in the form of Divine kindness toward us.
When we get the chance to do a favor for someone else, how do we see it? Is it an opportunity or a burden? Do we help others out of joy, or out of guilt and obligation? The sages teach that a person should rejoice over the opportunity to do kindness as though he or she has found a great treasure. The reward for good deeds is immeasurable and the performance of good deeds is the whole purpose of life.
That’s why the sages teach that a day that goes by without an act of kindness is a day that wasn’t really lived. A chance to help out another person is the greatest opportunity there is! As Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
As we go through our day, let’s consider who we help. Run at the first chance to do someone a favor! We are careful to get our daily dose of vitamins. We should be equally as vigilant about offering a daily dose of kindness to others. It’s not just a service toward others; it’s a service we do for ourselves.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President