October 8, 2021
We don’t have to look far these days to find a conversation, article, discussion, or even heated debate on the topic of trust. In fact, I received a newsletter earlier this week that led with the sentence, “The events of the past two years have made trust more important than ever.” Reinforcing this point, award-winning author and keynote speaker, Mike Robbins, whom last year published his fifth book, “We’re All in This Together: Creating a Team Culture of High Performance, Trust, and Belonging”, possesses a unique perspective on trust. Unlike most of the world who profess that “trust needs to be earned”, Robbins asserts that trust is actually “granted, not earned”. Robbins places the authority of trust squarely in the hands of the giver and not the receiver.
In this week’s Torah portion, Noach, we read the story of the great flood and of the parshah’s namesake ancestor, Noah. Much has been written about Noah’s character because the Torah identifies him as a “righteous man”, a man who was “perfect in his generations” (Genesis 6:9). Noah is placed in such high regard, that thousands of years later it could be argued that Noah’s life story may be the most well-known story in the bible.
Yet, Noah’s character is scrutinized by our ancient sages and modern scholars. Why didn’t the text simply stop after “Noah was a righteous man”? Why does Gd only compare Noah to the people of his generation, whom Gd eliminates in a great flood because of their evil inclinations?
So, what did Noah do, or not do, that garners such criticism? In paraphrasing Mike Robbins, Noah simply offered no one his trust. Noah did everything that Gd asked of him, but never questioned, inquired, or referenced whether there was an opportunity to reverse Gd’s decree on the rest of humanity and life on earth. Noah simply acted out Gd’s commands yet never internalized Gd’s intent.
Trust is granted by making ourselves vulnerable to the potential of another human being. Those who claim otherwise are because they fear the unknown, the potential to be let down, the pain of granting trust, and the recipient failing to live up to their potential. But when we grant trust, we raise another person’s esteem to a higher level. We are saying to them “I know you can do it”, “I have faith in you.” Noah had no faith in others and was content in never having to take responsibility for his actions.
At the Jewish Federation, we espouse a commitment to building trust. We advocate for our vulnerable populations, our elderly, our children, our sick. We support the programs that build community, that unite us through collaborative efforts, that ensure a Jewish future for generations to come. But we do it through trusting in you. Yes, we hope you grant us your trust. But we grant you our trust no matter what you do, believe, or think.
As we enter our Annual Campaign season, with a goal of raising $1.5 million for our local, national, and international communities. We want you to know that we trust you, and we trust in you and we ask you to show your trust in us with a contribution at any level you feel comfortable giving.
This is the message of this week’s Torah portion because it is through living Gd’s intent and not only acting out Gd’s commands that our Jewish community will be…