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Leaving Your Legacy

Noach (Genesis 6:9-11:32 )

by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis

You don't have to be famous in order to make your mark.

Parashat Noach commences with the headline 'Eileh Toldot Noach', These are the generations of Noach. And then, un-expectantly, instead of telling us about the generations, the Torah instead tells us about Noach himself - 'Noach Ish Tzaddik Tamim Hayah Bedorotav Et HaElokim Et'haleich Noach', Noach was a righteous man, perfect in his generations, Noach walked with God. Only afterwards we are given details of his generations.

Rashi here gives two elucidations. In his first commentary he tells us 'Zecher Tzaddik Livrachah' ('may the memory of the righteous be a blessing') because we should always speak about the great attributes of upright people. You see, what he says makes sense, but then why doesn't the Torah do the same thing when it comes to all other outstanding individuals?

In the second explanation, Rashi tells us 'Lelamedcha She'ikar Toldotehem Shel Tzaddikim Ma'assim Tovim'. From here we learn that the primary generations of upright people are their good deeds.

I find that within leadership circles, there is a lot of concern about legacy. Great leaders are worried how they are going to be remembered once they are out of office. But in reality, you don't need a major PR Firm to come in, in order to guarantee your legacy. There is another way through which one can gain immortality. That is through touching the hearts and moulding the minds of other people, through having a deep impact on their lives. In this way, part of oneself can become part of them, and through them, part of other people, for all time.

From Noach we learn that you don't have to be famous in order to make your mark. Rather, we can all attain our immortality through making a deep and positive impact on the lives of others.

Shabbat Shalom


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