Noah and Second Chances
A D’var by Carol Smith
Editor’s Note: This is one in a series of spotlights on outstanding d’vrei Torah written and delivered by congregants.
Recently, congregant Carol Smith delivered a thought-provoking d’var Torah on Noah, the second parashah in the book of Genesis, covering the familiar story of God’s choice of the only righteous man on earth to build an ark, rescue animal life and save his family to continue humankind on the planet. After the flood, G-d gives humanity a second chance.
It seems G-d is wiping the slate clean, hoping that humans will make better choices the second time around. “We can change our behaviors and our attitudes; we can learn from past experiences or from others and adjust accordingly, we can evolve and grow in different directions. This has all been granted to Noah and his offspring, and it has been granted to us,” Carol said.
How do we take advantage of a second chance? Carol reminds us that the first step is to apologize, owning our mistakes and acknowledging them to the people we have hurt or wronged. The next step is forgiveness. We can ask for forgiveness from those we’ve wronged. We can also offer forgiveness to those who have committed a transgression that has affected us.
But we need another step: to forgive ourselves Second chances can be granted from someone else to you, from you to someone else, or from you to you.
Then we must believe that we CAN make a change. We need to resist setting lofty goals, but rather set specific, modest goals, ones that we actually have a chance of attaining. With those goals, sometimes it’s helpful to have reminders – maybe a post-it note strategically placed in your residence to remind you of your goal. Or by enlisting the help of a friend to remind you of your goal. Developing a new routine around the goal can help, as well. And, of course, we need to be grateful that we have a reprieve!
Finally, Carol said, “As much as this is a story about Noah and the second chance granted to humanity, this is also a story about G-d and about G-d wanting a second chance. In unleashing the flood, G-d wants to return to an earlier time and try again with the human race. As we continue to strive to better ourselves, I think we can take comfort in that these needs for second chances are universal and they are etched in our history.”