Tikkun Olam- Fixing the World

Moshe Kempinski

The torah portion of Noach (Noah) begins with the verse;

“These are the generations of Noach, Noach was a righteous man he was wholehearted in his generations; Noach walked with G-d”( Genesis 6:9)

The portion then goes on to describe a righteous man living in a world consumed by violence and corruption.He build a large ark to save a remnant from the inevitable destruction. The portion then goes on to describe the descendants of Noach building a great tower to symbolize their own invincibility and distance from G-d. As a result G d causes them to speak differing languages so that they become divided .They are then dispersed across the face of the earth, splitting into seventy nations.

The portion then ends ten generations later with the verses introducing Abraham;

” And Terach took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter in law, the wife of Abram his son, and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees to go to the land of Canaan, and they came as far as Haran and settled there. ( Genesis 11;31-32)

Noach is the beginning of the correction of the world while Abraham symbolizes the purpose.

Noach lives in a generation wherein ” .. the earth was corrupt before God, and the earth became full of robbery ( Hamas) .. And God saw the earth, and behold it had become corrupted, for all flesh had corrupted its way on the earth. “( Genesis 6:11-12).The critical word here is ” it’s way”( et darko).The world had sunk into limitless selfishness and as a result had become morally corrupt and murderous.

Noach was the beginning of the solution.” Noach was a righteous man he was wholehearted in his generations” , and this was because “Noach walked with G-d”.

Our sages teach that the ark was built for 120 years, in order to allow mankind to be aroused to repentance during that time. Noach in his righteousness dutifully continued to build and prepare, despite the ridicule and abuse he may have endured.

Yet the generations that followed were to fall into their own trap of “passion without limits”. They all spoke one language and lost any sense of individuality or purpose. Their only purpose became to make themselves into gods protected by a high tower of invulnerability. This is in opposition to the destiny and purpose G-d had decreed for them. Their original purpose as declared repeatedly by G-d was to spread throughout the world so that G-d’s name would be known throughout his creation;

“ And God blessed Noah and his sons, and He said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. (Genesis 9:1).

Instead the descendants of Noach declared; ” And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make ourselves a name, lest we be scattered upon the face of the entire earth.” “( ibid 11:4). So G-d confused their language and dispersed them into seventy nations.

Noach’s “walking with G-d “ did not prove to be an eternal lesson that would be emulated and followed.

Noach was gifted with a righteous soul. He was a man who was with G-d and therefore was empowered by G-d to walk straight and upright. Rashi explains on the words “Noach walked with God” the following;

” But concerning Avraham, Scripture says (ibid 24:40): “[Hashem] before Whom I walked.” Noach required [G-d’s] support to uphold him [in righteousness], but Avraham strengthened himself and walked in his righteousness by himself. ”

G-d expected more of Avraham.

“And when Avram was ninety years old and nine, Hashem appeared to Avram, and said unto him: ‘I am G-d Almighty; walk before Me, and be thou wholehearted. “.( Genesis 17:1)

In the future much would be expected of Abraham and much more would be expected of his descendants. While Noach and Enoch walked with G-d and felt empowered and protected by that walk, Avraham was told to have enough faith to walk forward into the unknown “ before G-d” with the faith that G-d was right behind him.

That walk of faith would be the walk that would change the world.

Noach represented the secure and protected ark that would sail through seas of selfish evil and self indulgence. Yet while the ark protected, it did not change or calm the sea. Only a courageous walk of faith based on principle, ideals and destiny would be able to stand against the corruption and hatred on one side, symbolised the generation of the flood and the self-indulgent arrogance that was symbolised by the generation of the tower of Babel on the other.

The fixing of the world ( Tikkun Olam) that began with Noach would reach its purpose with Abraham. That purpose would begin the world on its long journey towards its destiny

LeRefuat Yehudit bat Golda Yocheved

1 thought on “Tikkun Olam- Fixing the World”

  1. Jesus said, “He who is without sin throw the first stone”. As a believer in Christ the Messiah I have learned to realise the depth of my own corruption and need to be forgiven and cleansed.
    I am thankful for the heritage that Judaism has provided for the world and the fulfillment of the promises made to Abraham to bless the nations.
    Thank you for your insights expressed through your weekly studies and articles.

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