Generation of the Flood

A bad childhood is no justification for being a bad person

This week’s Parasha is Parashat NOACH (Noah). We read the famous story about the Generation of Noach, the Ark, the Flood and the Tower of Bavel (Babylon). The Talmud as well as the chassidic Torah commentator Shem MiShmuel state that the Generation of Noach was being accused of idol-worship, murder and theft. The Shem MiShmuel states that every person of the entire generation was following his desires. Just raping anyone he sees, no matter whether human or animal. In the end, G-d brought about the Flood in order to cleanse the earth.
As soon as I read about same gender marriages and the German Green party demanding the legal right for adults to have sex with 12-year-olds, I am being reminded of the Generation of the Flood. In those days it seemed that the whole world is upside down and the same is happening today. People following their sexual desires and not caring about morality anymore. The only one important is ME, ME, ME!
But what do we actually learn from Noach and his Generation?
That a majority acting in this or that manner doesn’t automatically mean that they are right. Noach was an individual and going against society by behaving in a very different way. Of course, you could argue that he had a more frum upbringing and thus decided not to follow suit but behave in a moral way. On the other hand it can be very easy going with the crowd and telling oneself that this must be right because everyone is doing it.
When we take a closer look into the Torah, we see that a couple of biblical figures actually had a bad childhood. Look at the family where Rivka (Rebecca), Leah and Rachel came from. Or Terach, the father of Avraham, who was an idol-worshiper and working for Nimrod. Rivka, Leah, Rachel or Avraham could have chosen the opposite way and just being like everyone else around them. However, they did not but, instead, chose morality.
What they also show us is that a bad childhood or a negative environment doesn’t necessarily mean that a child has to become a bad person. Today, many criminals claim that they ended up like this because they had a bad childhood. If they would have had better parents, more money, better schools … well, everything would have been different. But due to their bad childhood or environment they didn’t have another choice but becoming a criminal.
Avraham, Rivka, Rachel, Leah and even Noach prove the exact opposite. It is possible to walk in a different path than one’s parents or environment. It may be much harder sometimes because of various difficulties but, in the end, one may succeed just like Avraham. It is up to us what we become and we cannot blame anybody else. It is us being responsible for our lives and not my neighbour.

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