Parshat Noach: The Importance of Unity in Times of Trouble

October 19, 2023
BBYO Weekly Parsha


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This week’s Parsha is one that many people would know from early days in Hebrew school as “Noah’s Ark”, or Parshat Noach. What I remember learning as a young, Jewish scholar in second grade was that Earth flooded and a man named Noah built an ark in an attempt to save what he could from destruction. While on the surface, this is a partially accurate summary of Parshat Noach, there is a lot more information to unpack in this week’s portion.

I approached this Torah portion by immediately thinking about how Jews all around the world are experiencing a sort of “flood” in their lives today. While the current war in Israel is nowhere near comparable to a simple flood, similar feelings of destruction and loss are felt in both times. However, the part of this portion that my teachers failed to mention way back when is what happens after the flood.

Many years after the flood, the people are more united than ever and are ready to build up their lives again. One tells another, “Come, let us make bricks and build ourselves a city and a tower whose top shall reach to the heaven.” These humans take the opportunity to build something beautiful that will unite them even more than before the tragedy.

We, as Jews in today’s crazy world, dealing with a whirlwind of emotions and loss (just like the people in Noah’s time), have a lot to learn from this portion. It may be hard to think about the rainbow that’ll come after, while our storm is still very much happening and strong, but what we see from this portion is that we can use times of crisis to unite even more than before. We, as Jewish people, have gone through destruction and loss many times before, and though it hasn’t been ideal, we have still picked up our lives and grew from those times. We are strong, and we become stronger and more united as we stand and support our siblings in our holy land.

As we begin reading our Torah over again, we start in our book of Bereshit. When I hear the word Bereshit (translating to “in the beginning”), my mind automatically thinks of the word “bara” or "create". Bereshit bara Elohim; In the beginning G-d created. G-d will help us rebuild and recreate our lives just as G-d did in the beginning of time.

Shabbat Shalom.

Leah Berger, Pacific Western Region

Read commentary on this week's Parsha from BBYO teens around the world.

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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