This week’s parshah is Parshat Noach. The story of Noach and the flood is well known. Noach is chosen to save a remnant of the world from the flood because he is איש צדיק (ish tzaddik) – a “just” or “righteous” person. The word צדיק (tzadik) is related to the word צדק (tzeddek) – “justice,” and to צדקה (tzedakkah), which properly understood denotes those acts that bring about justice or fairness in the world. What exactly is “justice”? How can human beings can help create a just world through “tzedakkah”?
At school this week we paid special attention to the sign that God gave Noach and his family after the flood. God drew their attention to the rainbow in the sky as a sign of an everlasting agreement never to destroy the world again because of human deeds. Through this sign God demonstrated respect for people’s ability to contend with their own challenges. We discussed with our students the many ways that we can observe the middah: “show signs of respect”. Signs of respect can include the simplest acts of listening to each other, greeting each other in the hallway, acknowledging each others’ contributions. We, like Noach, must learn how to be צדיק בדורותיו (tzaddik bedorotav) – “a just person in our own generation.” The first step may simply be showing signs of respect for each other.
This Shabbat may we all find ways to show signs of respect to our friends, our family, and the world which has been given to us as a gift.