What did I do?
After surviving the mabul, Noach built a mizbeach and brought korbonos. “Hashem smelled the pleasant aroma and said to Himself, ‘I will no longer curse the earth because of man […] and I will no longer smite all living things as I have done.’” Hashem then gave Noach several commands and told him of His promise never to destroy the world. Did Noach know that it was his korbonos that caused Hashem to make this promise? According to the Ibn Ezra, Hashem did eventually tell Noach. But according to the Ramban, Noach was never told. Noach shaped the future of the entire universe and had no idea he did. Just imagine the scene in Gan Eden when Noach read his own story for the first time. “What?!” he probably gasped, “It was me who saved the world from another mabul?!” A young man told me about a low point in his life, when he was suicidal R”l, and a friend saved his life. “This friend would come over and make conversation,” he explained. “He did simple, ‘small’ things, but I was just barely surviving and the support he offered was lifesaving.”
For years, the friend had no idea how instrumental he had been in saving this man’s life. We have the ability, numerous times a day, to make a real difference in someone’s life. It’s not always easy or comfortable to extend an extra kindness but like Noach, we can bring a sacrifice. We can go out of our comfort zone for someone else. And it’s not always necessary to do something big, it can be as small as complimenting the chazzan, the Rabbi or your spouse. Or even approaching a Yid on the street to do a mitzvah. Of course, it’s very satisfying to experience the Ibn Ezra’s narrative and know what we accomplished. And, if someone has done something for us, surely we should let them know, just like the young man eventually did. But even if our actions remain unknown, as in the Ramban’s narrative, let’s not be discouraged. The Rebbe often quoted the Rambam’s ruling that “A person should always look at himself as equally balanced between merit and sin and the world as equally balanced between merit and sin…If he performs one mitzvah, he tips his balance and that of the entire world to the side of merit and brings deliverance and salvation to himself and others.” Just imagine the scene when Moshiach comes and we discover the true impact of our deeds. Gut Shabbos, Rabbi Mordechai Lipskier