By Ariella Katcoff
The Torah says, “Noah was a righteous man; he was blameless in his age.” I started wondering what “being blameless in his age” really meant. After reading a few commentaries, I came across two possible explanations. The first is that everyone else was very wicked, so it was even more surprising that Noah was kind. The second idea was that when the Torah says “in his age” it is telling us that the rest of the world was wicked, and that Noah just wasn’t bad compared to them.
But you would not call someone a righteous person just because they were not so bad. Just because a person is not a perpetrator, does not mean that they will stand up for others or do other acts of righteousness.
In Noah’s case, I think he was called “a righteous man” because that is what he became. I don’t think that Noah started out righteous; I think that he started as a bystander. Noah never told anyone that what they were doing was bad; he just didn’t do the sins himself. God knew that Noah needed an opportunity to stand up as an example of good so God instructed Noah to build an ark. While the ark was being built, onlookers were able to see the seriousness of the situation and try to fix their ways and become better people. When Noah took on the task of publicly building the ark, he showed that he truly had faith in God and he became a righteous man. Noah had a spark in him all along that just needed to be ignited.
I believe that we all have that same spark. It’s part of what it means for people to be created in God’s image. Everyone in the world has chances to do good and become righteous, but they need to make the right choices. Noah might not have started out much better than his peers, but when God gave him the opportunity, Noah made the choice to act in a righteous way. I believe that if we all find our sparks and take action, we can create the flame that makes the world a better place.
Ariella Katcoff is a seventh grader at Krieger Schechter Day School.