Torah for this Hour | November 2, 2023


Unlike Abraham, who demonstrated initiative, Noah was passive. Noah indeed did as the Eternal commanded him, but no more than that—except for one thing: “And Noah built an altar to YHWH… and he offered up burnt offerings on the altar.” What sacrifice did he offer? Perhaps it was a sin offering, or perhaps a guilt offering: Noah emerged from the ark, saw the world destroyed, and understood that he had not done enough to prevent that disaster. Or perhaps it was a thanksgiving offering, in recognition of his and his family’s having been saved.

Today our leaders owe both a sin offering and a guilt offering. On the other hand, there are those who would like to offer a thanksgiving offering. Rachel Vitsan expressed herself in that vein during shiv‘a for her son Amichai, z”l who was killed at Kibbutz Kerem Shalom. He was in the local defense squad, which succeeded in repelling and killing more than twenty terrorists, saving the kibbutz. His mother stated that at the end of shiv’a she would arrange a meal to give thanks for the people who were saved, including her daughter-in-law and her five grandchildren.

At the moment of truth, when the leadership collapsed, the answer came from below in the person of soldiers and ordinary citizens. That is when ‘am Yisrael really emerged.