Union of the Not-So-Righteous

Ohr Hachayim Genesis: Noach

Union of the Not-So-Righteous

Noah, through his righteousness, was able to save himself and his immediate family from world destruction. His righteousness was not enough however, to prevent the global catastrophe or to save anyone else.

The Ohr Hachayim (Genesis 6:14) draws a distinction between someone who is completely righteous (I’m not sure what that means) and someone who is not on that level (let’s call them semi-righteous). The difference is apparent only in numbers.

The Ohr Hachayim claims that a union of semi-righteous people (at least ten) is superior to the lone fully righteous person. The mathematics is demonstrated further on in Genesis during Abraham’s negotiations with God over the fate of Sodom and its sister cities. According to the Ohr Hachayim a union of semi-righteous is powerful enough to not only save themselves, but to save an entire city or even the entire world. It is enough to prevent God’s wrath from even ‘escaping’ and wrecking havoc and destruction upon the guilty.

Hence, it is clearly superior to unite with our semi-righteous or not-so-righteous brothers than to remain alone in our “full” righteousness. The creation of a small “community” that cares one for the other, that reaches out and is concerned for others trumps the lonely saint.

May we always find those willing to unite with us, though we don’t necessarily live up to saintly standards.

Shabbat Shalom,



To Rabbi Rami Avigdor and his Centro Kehila community-building efforts in Spanish-speaking countries.

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