“Everyone’s Doing It”
Noach (Genesis 6:9-11:32 )
Noach opened the window of the ark which he made, and he sent out the raven… (8:6, 7)
Noach was unsure if the climate was suitable for man and beast, and so he sent the raven to find out. The raven objected to being sent, saying to Noach, “I know the reason why you are sending me away! You are interested in my mate!”
What was the rationale behind the raven’s objection? Did he really think that Noach was interested in his mate?!
The way you are is the way you think everyone else is. Righteous people generally think that everyone is good. Likewise, a person who acts immorally assumes that everyone else acts similarly. A thief thinks everyone steals, an alcoholic thinks everyone drinks. The raven was one of the three who disobeyed God’s command to separate from their mate while in the ark as the world was being destroyed. He therefore suspected Noach, because he himself was guilty of illicit activity.1
There is a tendency to try to validate one’s sins by saying, “Everyone does it.” Of course, that is not necessarily true. It is possible that you think everyone does it simply because you do it! Indeed, the Talmud states that one who invalidates others is himself invalidated, and usually it is with his own blemishes that he brands others as invalid. For example, if one calls another a slave, it is a sign that he himself is most probably a slave.2 If you find yourself constantly berating others, it is a sign that you need to do some self-introspection to see where it is coming from. On the other hand, if a person is constantly praising others it is a sign that he himself is worthy of praise.
1. R’ Chaim Shmuelevitz. The other two were the dog and Cham the son of Noach (Sanhedrin 108b).
2. Kiddushin 70b