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INVESTING IN YOUR FUTURE

by Rabbi David Zauderer    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

There are some mighty strange words in the beginning of this weekís Torah portion. The Torah starts off by stating, "These are the offspring of Noah." But instead of listing his sons and daughters right after that, the Torah tells us, "Noah was a righteous man, perfect in his generation." What gives?

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There are some mighty strange words in the beginning of this weekís Torah portion. The Torah starts off by stating, "These are the offspring of Noah." But instead of listing his sons and daughters right after that, the Torah tells us, "Noah was a righteous man, perfect in his generation." What gives?

Rashi, the preeminent Torah commentator, explains that the Torah wanted to teach us that the primary "offspring" of the righteous are their good deeds. Sounds interesting, but what does that mean? Do you think that Moses took out his wallet everywhere he went showing people a matzah he ate last Passover?!! The truth is that in these few words of our sages lie a profound message that can have a tremendous impact on all of us in our daily lives.

The dream of every Jewish parent is for their child to become a doctor or to be employed in some other major profession. To that end, they will spare no expense. No Jew has ever been heard to say, "My son got accepted to Yale. I think Iíll try to put together half the tuition. Thatís all Iím prepared to do to advance my Haroldís education." It would never happen! We do whatever it takes to get our children where we want them to be.

Did you ever wonder why that is? What motivates us to sacrifice so much that our children become the doctor or lawyer? And to such an extent that we often tend to neglect our own needs, spiritual or otherwise, just so that our children get accepted into a good school.

I believe that the prime motivation of our self-sacrifice lies in the basic, human need that we all share--the need to establish a legacy--something about us, an extension of ourselves, that will live on after weíre gone. Our prominent and successful children are our legacy, and to maintain that legacy, we will go to great lengths.

What the Torah is trying to teach us here is, that as important as it is to sacrifice on behalf of our children in order to help them become top professionals in their respective fields as a lasting legacy to ourselves, there is an even greater legacy--the good deeds and worthwhile things, like mitzvah observance and character refinement, that we accomplish in our own lifetimes. A great philosopher once wrote, "The days of our lives are like the pages in a notebook--write in them what you want remembered about you." Ultimately, it is the mitzvot and good deeds that we perform in our lives that are our true legacy--because these deeds affect how we will be remembered after weíre gone, and they will accompany us into the Next World long after our children retire from the medical profession.

So letís remember the next time we do a mitzvah not to be satisfied with mediocrity. "I gave a little charity, thatís enough", or, "We already went to a Torah study group this year!", or, "I can put up half the tuition for my kidís Hebrew school. Thatís all Iím prepared to do." These important tasks are our true legacy. Thatís all we have when we die. So letís invest wisely as we fill up our notebooks.

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Rabbi David Zauderer is a card-carrying member of the Atlanta Scholars Kollel.

You are invited to read more Parshat Noach articles.

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