This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. — Genesis 6:9
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.
This week’s Torah portion is mostly about the story of the flood and ends with the story of the Tower of Babel. Which begs the question: Why is this portion called “Noah”? Shouldn’t it have been called something like “The Flood” or maybe “The Ark and The Tower”? This is the story of all humanity. Why name it after one person?
The Torah portion begins, “This is the account of Noah and his family” because the story of human history comes down to one person and one family. And isn’t that how it always is? History is never determined by the masses. It always comes down to a few people who make a world of a difference.
That being the case, it’s ironic that many people feel too small to make a big difference. When it comes to the upcoming elections in the United States, for example, almost half of eligible voters won’t make it to the voting booths. Why? For many people, it’s because they don’t think that it will matter. Why bother voting if their vote won’t make a difference? The fact is most people think that one person is powerless. But the reality is that there is no limit to the power of one determined individual.
A quote from the Talmud was made famous by the movie Schindler’s List. At the end of the movie, the Jews who Schindler saved during the Holocaust give him a gold ring, made from teeth that the survivors happily donated for the cause. On it, these words were engraved: “He who saves a life, saves a whole world.” That’s the value of one human life. It’s equal to an entire world! Why? Because one person has the power to influence a whole society.
The Torah portion about Noah describes the history of all humanity. But like all important moments in history, it is the story of one person – one person dedicated to God and to obeying His Word even though those around him were determined to go against God. Our future is being written the same way. It will all come down to a few individuals who are faithful to the Lord. How will we be one of those people?
Never underestimate the power of one person. Individuals like you and me write the story of the world.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President