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  • Torah Reading: Naso
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Noach(Genesis 6:9-11:32)

Point of Unacceptability

In this week's parsha, God sends a flood to destroy the world. And the big question is: What was so terrible about Noah's generation that they were deserving of destruction?

The Midrash says that although their society was filled with various corruption and abuse, God didn't decree the Flood until these things became celebrated in popular songs, and were then legalized. Immorality is one thing, but when it gets society's stamp of approval, then the possibility of reversing the downward trend becomes very unlikely. So for the generation of Noah, that meant rebuilding from scratch.

In society today, business and the media are constantly trying to push the envelope of acceptability - whether it's in fashion, music, videogames, or general lifestyle choices. What's always amazed me is how parents are invariably shocked by the current level of permissibility - just as their own parents were equally shocked a generation ago!

We keep moving the marker. And at some point, it seems that an individual has to ask himself: Have things gotten to be 'too much'?

So take a few minutes and think about the negative behaviors going on around you, things that you may even have been drawn into. Maybe it's office gossip, maybe it's a style of immodest dress, maybe it's a certain level of violence in film.

But get in touch: Is there something that deep down bothers you - that you sense is wrong?

Because, at some point, the excuse of 'everyone's doing it' just doesn't work anymore.

And that's exactly what the generation of the Flood found out, in a most unfortunate way.

So take the great step to independence: Identify the point of unacceptability, and decide that you've had enough and don't want to be part of it anymore.

October 29, 2005

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Visitor Comments: 5

(5) Anonymous, October 16, 2015 9:58 AM

Great article! Thanks for posting!

(4) Anonymous, November 8, 2011 8:00 PM

Unattained Wisdom

With the censureless world in which we live today, and the deregulated norms of society, it is sad to watch the world turn on such a direction. As the above article says, "In society today, business and the media are constantly trying to push the envelope of acceptability " This is very true...the more inmoral the actions is, the greatest the opportunity for a book deal becomes, unfortunately. I think we all have the responsibility to make the world a better place to live by following the path of the creator. Thanks for a great article.

(3) martin margolies, October 30, 2008 11:14 AM


A good article and hard to disagree about all the "problems" in our society. And, sure I'd change a lot of things if I were made King of America. Yet, realistically, all I can think of is to ask "when were things really so great in our society?" Can anyone name a five year period when the very same complaints were not heard daily by every American? When there wasn't a war or depression or some catastrophic event on the horizon? I was born during the Holocaust, my children during the Viet Nam era, my grandchildren now live with the terrorist threat. But if you go back further, especially for we Jews, you only find things that were, by comparison, far worse. So, these days are, right now, the "good old days," and let's try to enjoy them without so much complaining. And, for anyone living in Anerica, please realize you have won the lottery of life and should be eternally grateful - even if our culture is not "perfect." mem

(2) ata, October 27, 2008 2:35 PM


i do agree that what is going on in society is unacceptable. i really try to keep away from all the media and stuff. i wish more people would do the same. some people tell me that i should "get in tuned more with the real world", but there is something that i have realized- the immorality and violence that goes on outside- how can that be the real world? the truly real world is right here at our fingertips- the world of torah and mitzvos. so before you go and critisize chasidim for not having internet or tv, take a look at your lifestyle. i think that chassidim live much easier lives because they are not distracted by all the media and stuff. it really harms your neshama.

(1) Katherine, October 27, 2006 9:03 AM


Thank you for your wise words, Rabbi! I always find your articles enlightening and comforting. I have been stunned and alarmed by the amount of disturbing images and messages that society offers as 'acceptable.' It's nice to know I'm not alone in my discomfort and concern.

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