When I was 10 years old I moved from Houston, Texas to Rockaway, New York. A beautiful place to grow up, I lived only two blocks from the beach. I attended the Yeshiva of Belle Harbor for 4th and 5th grade which was housed in the basement of the local shul.
Unfortunately Hurricane Sandy completely destroyed the school and it was forced to relocate to Brooklyn. One Shabbat I was showing my son Jacob around my old school building. Walking through the empty classrooms he asked me what happened to the school. I told him that the school was destroyed in a big flood. He immediately responded were the kids very bad? Is that why Hashem caused the flood in the school?
Last week the world was created. This week the world was destroyed. We are told the reason that God flooded the world is that the people were evil. This represents a clear model of cause and effect justice in the Human relationship with God. If you do something wrong then you get punished.
Young children have a very strong sense of justice. Often I will hear 5 and 6 year olds say “it's not fair”. Kids have a very strong sense of right and wrong. They see people as good or bad, but we all know from experience that is not how the world works.
People are complex and nuanced, not one dimensional and static. No one is all good or all bad, this is the lesson God teaches Noach after the flood. This lesson is essential for the success of the new world.
Aboard his boat Noach send out two different birds a raven and a dove. One is all black the other is all white. The Medrash tells us that Noach sent out the raven because he felt it had no value. It was not Kosher and it cohabited with Mrs. Raven on the ark which was prohibited. Noach wanted to create a new world which was purified of any evil. That is how he saw the world, in black and white, good and bad. But as we grow up we understand this is not the state of the world and this is not the human condition.
People are diverse and complex. Most are not all good or all bad like the black raven or the white dove. We have a spectrum and that is why Hashem shows Noach a Rainbow when he leaves the ark. People are not black and white they are multicolored and multi faceted. Try and discover the nuances within all of us and not attach a label of good or bad to a person based solely on one action. Am Yisroel Chai. It’s time for Jews of every color to unite in these trying times.