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Dvar Torah from Our Latest Bat Mitzvah

Rainbows are beautiful on the outside. But we understand from our Parsha that they may not be as beautiful as they seem. In Parshat Noach, people were violent and unkind, and God told Noach that the world would be destroyed. Noach and his family will be saved.

After the destruction of all life on earth, God realizes that it is too extreme. God then makes a promise to Noach that God will never destroy the earth again. The rainbow would serve as a sign that things aren't good right now, people aren’t being kind, and there is violence, but God remembers his promise to not do what he did before. There is even a bracha to say upon seeing a rainbow:

זוכר הברית ונאמן בבריתו וקים במאמרו

Blessed are You, God, who remembers the Brit - who is trusted to keep the promise.

Currently, there is a terrible war in Israel… violence, death … just like in the time of Noach. People didn’t feel safe in Parshat Noach, just like people now in Israel also don’t feel safe.

So what's our job - how do we respond to the Israel situation? We learn some more about our responsibility towards others from this parsha’s main protagonist, Noach.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks points out: “What does Noah say to God when the decree is issued that the world is about to perish? What does he say when he is told to make an Ark to save himself and his family? What does he say as the rain begins to fall? The answer is nothing.”

Noach does not challenge God's notion to destroy all life. He does not step in and plead for mercy on behalf of what few righteous people may remain in the land, or even for mercy for those who could be brought to do teshuva. He blindly accepts God’s decision and proceeds to save only himself and his family, along with the animals.

What became of Noach in the end? The Torah tells us that unfortunately, he became drunk, disheveled, and an embarrassment to his children. Rabbi Sacks notes that “this imparts the lesson to us that if you save yourself while doing nothing to save the world, you do not even save yourself. Noah could not live with the guilt of survival.”

We can’t just sit back and enjoy the comfort of our lives in America, we have to push ourselves to help, to send money and support when we can, and also to use our voices to speak out and speak up in confronting injustice when we see it.

I’ve chosen to give my tzedakah to the UJA Israel Emergency Fund. UJA funding supports critical services for victims of terror, Holocaust survivors, impoverished children, and people on the margins in Israel. They fund and operate programs that promote inclusion and understanding between Israelis of all ethnic and religious backgrounds. Their Israel Emergency Fund provides immediate relief to the victims of these vicious terrorist attacks.

As we know scientifically, rainbows can actually be full circles. However, when we are on the ground, we only see half of the rainbow’s circle. In other words, we only see half of the story. A responsible and just person will always keep this in mind and will make it their responsibility to educate themselves as much as possible to be able to create the most effective and sustainable change in the world.

Behind the rainbow is a message about how we have to be responsible for others and take action… even when we are safe here, there’s always someone in need.

Naomi Moeller

Rimonim (7th Grade) Student

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