October 13, 2021
Last week in Parashat Noach, we learned that Noah was righteous, a Tzaddik, and that he walked with God. This week, we are introduced to Abraham, who walked before God, and has the distinction of being the “first Jew, the father of Judaism.”
In her Bat Mitzvah Drasha this past Shabbat, Akiva Barry explained that Noah was not as righteous as he seemed, because while he had a connection with God, received God’s divine message, and carried out the mission to build the Ark, Noah did not question God’s plan to destroy the world by way of the Great Flood.
On the other hand, when confronted with a similar situation, Abraham questions God’s decision to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham pushes back, arguing on behalf of the innocent. In the end, Abraham is able to convince God to alter the destructive plan. Noah walked with God, accepting God’s will. Abraham walked before God, suggesting that Abraham was able to reason with God and influence divine decision making.
Should we aspire to be like Noah? Or like Abraham? Is it more important to accept what is or to push back on something that feels harmful, destructive, unfair? Or, is there a way to incorporate both ways of being?
Perhaps Torah’s lesson is one of discernment--understanding the whole situation and responding as Noah or Abraham, as needed.
May we know the way of Noah AND the way of Abraham, calling on their divine attributes, as each situation demands. May we know what it means to walk with God, aligning ourselves with the divine call to bring God’s will into the world. Similarly, may we know what it means to walk before God, aligning ourselves with the holy chutzpah to question, to challenge, to stand up for others. But of the utmost importance, may we be comfortable dancing with God, knowing when to change our gait.