Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct. 24, 2003 / 5 Mar-Cheshvan, 5764

There is no greater waste than a wasted tragedy

By Rabbi Berel Wein


Printer Friendly Version

Email this article



There is a lot more to the story of Noah, which we read publicly this Sabbath, than what you learned as a kid


http://www.jewishworldreview.com | Noah is a very difficult person to assess. The Rabbis of the Midrash themselves were of different minds regarding Noah. The truth is, that the righteous, perfect, G-d-pursuing Noah is in actuality a very complicated person. The tragedy resulting from his behavior after the flood — just as his behavior and influence before the flood — apparently was unable to arrest the world's dive into disaster.


Noah certainly had the opportunity after the flood to fashion the world in his image, so to speak. But it was not to be. The majority of Noah's descendants reverted back to the evil ways before the flood. It is almost as though the flood and all of its ragedy was a waste. And I cannot think of a greater waste than a wasted tragedy.


This is perhaps the greatest point of criticism that the Rabbis leveled at Noah — that the flood and its lessons were never exploited to improve human society afterward.


And this is the strongest point of comparison and difference between Noah and Abraham.


Abraham also lived in a generation of tragedy and disaster. Believers were thrown into furnaces, morality was scoffed at, the project of the great Tower of Bavel was only abandoned after countless lives were lost in the attempt and Abraham was an isolated figure of Godliness in a world of paganism and evil.


Yet, Abraham himself had assimilated the lessons of his generation within his being. He saw the emptiness and lawlessness that surrounded him and resolved to create a counter-force of goodness and faith that would eventually (according to the opinion of Rabbi Menachem HaMeiri in the introduction of his commentary to the Book of Avos) win over half of his generation to the concepts of human goodness and monotheism.

Donate to JWR

Abraham, who always lived with danger and on the brink of tragedy and disaster, never flinched nor fled, He did not withdraw into himself and abandon his role of human leadership. He learned the lessons of the generations that preceded him and did not allow himself to be traumatized. He did not waste the experience of those terrible events.


The Jewish people, the children of Abraham, have reeled from tragedy to greater tragedy in our long and difficult history and exile. In our time, the Holocaust and the vicious pogroms of the first third (pre-Holocaust) of the century have decimated our people. They have not only destroyed us physically, but they have also crippled us emotionally and spiritually. It would have been perfectly understandable had the Jewish people just curled up and withered away — turning the experience of the Holocaust into a wasted historical event. The grandeur of our times is that even though many Jews have given up on themselves, have married out of the faith, assimilated, secularized, and disappeared, the Jewish people as an entity has followed the path of Abraham and not Noah.


The strong development of a Torah life-style amongst large numbers of Jewish communities the world over is a testimony to dealing with and defeating tragedy. Our Rabbis said that Abraham reaped the rewards of all of the ten generations after the flood. He saw their disasters, experienced the flames of his own potential destruction, and yet rose to proclaim a Godly world of human good and compassion.


Abraham reaped the reward of those previous generations. He learned their lessons, corrected their shortcomings — and moved on to create a new world that would justify his faith.


Our generation is faced with this very same challenge. Let us build Abraham's world and reap the rewards of the countless generations of human failure and misery that have preceded us.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in uplifting articles. Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Rabbi Berel Wein is one of Jewry's foremost historians and founder of the Destiny Foundation. He has authored over 650 tapes, books and videos which you can purchase at RabbiWein.com. Comment by clicking here or calling 1-800-499-WEIN (9346).

© 2003, Rabbi Berel Wein