Midreshet Amit


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The Power of the Environment

By: Tali Irwin and Jessica Blumberg

In this weeks Parsha when we are introduced to Noach we are told that צדיק היה בדורותיו  Noah was a tzadik in his generation. It is a bizarre way to introduce someone. Why not just say he was a Tzadik? We have often wondered whether Noach would have been as great in another generation or would his righteousness have been proportionate to whatever time he was in? 

How much does our environment impact who we are for good and bad?

There is a  Midrash Tanchuma that gives us two perspectives on Noach. These perspectives are also discussed  by Rashi. "Some of the Rabbis expounded this positively: if he had been in a generation of righteous people he would have been even more righteous And some Rabbis expounded this negatively, in his generation he was a Tzadik but in Avraham's generation he would have been nothing. Is בדורותיו positive, negative or both ? Would he have been ever better in another generation or worse? Do our friends impact us to change or are we innately who we are? According to Rashi, it seems that both nature and nurture are true. Noach was amazing in his generation despite the evil surroundings but in another generation he could have been ever better because he had the innate potential plus good surrounding. 

This year in Midreshet Amit we are trying to surround ourselves with people who bring out the best in us. We know that in order to reach our potential we need to be in a supportive environment conducive to growth. At the same time we also try to be the people who will bring out the best in the beit hayeled kids that we work with. We try to use our potential to help thers rise above their generation.