When Abraham learned of the pending annihilation of Sodom and Gomorrah, he had the chutzpah to argue with God. But when Noah learned of the pending deluge coming to flood away wickedness, he remained silent.
Why? The Kedushat Levi teaches that Noah remained silent because Noah “was little in his own eyes.” Noah said to himself, “well, if God—the Creator of all the cosmos—tells me to build an ark, then surely, God is telling everyone. I’m not special. We’re all the same.”
And that piece of insecurity is all it took for the genocide of all humanity except for one family.
Our job is to empower our students to see themselves as Abraham, not as Noah. Our job is to help our students find their inner voice and to use their voices—along with their power and their privilege—to speak out against injustice wherever it is found, so that next time the entire world is saved instead of just one family.
Rabbi Meir Goldstein is the associate chaplain for Jewish Life at Elon Hillel.