Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

For sponsorships and advertising opportunities, send e-mail to: parsha@shemayisrael.co.il

Back to This Week's Parsha Previous Issues

subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)


Vol. 15   No. 1


This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas
Leah Baila bas Aryeh Leib z"l
t.n.tz.v.h.

Parshas No'ach

It All Adds Up

The K'li Yakar bases the measurements of No'ach's Boat (three hundred x fifty x thirty Amos) on the premise that the main cause of the Flood was immoral practices, as the Pasuk describes at the end of Parshas Bereishis. Rashi too, hints at this a number of times at the beginning of the Parshah. Indeed, the reason that they were punished with boiling water, say Chazal, was because they sinned with boiling semen, Midah ke'Neged Midah. And he connects this with the well-known Chazal that G-d created this world with a 'Hey' and the world to come with a 'Yud', the letters of His Holy Name Koh. The former, He placed in the word 'Ishah' (since woman's main function concerns the material world); whereas the latter, He placed in the word "Ish' (seeing as man's role is more concerned with spiritual matters). And the moment they drive G-d out of their home with immoral behaviour, they are left with the letters that form 'Eish' (fire).

From there we see, says the K'li Yakar, that G-d's Name 'Koh' (whose Gematriyah is fifteen) is defiled as a result of immoral behaviour. That explains why, he says, the number fifteen occurs many times in the Parshah of the Flood. First of all, the water of the Flood rose fifteen Amos above the mountain-tops; secondly, the water 'gathered strengthened' for a hundred and fifty days (ten times fifteen).

The measurements of the Boat too, he points out, are closely connected with the number fifteen, inasmuch as its area (three hundred x fifty) was fifteen thousand square Amos (a thousand times fifteen). And as for the height (thirty Amos), seeing as each of the three floors was ten Amos tall, it transpires that each floor measured the sum total of a hundred and fifty thousand cubic Amos (ten thousand times fifteen)!

*

Before conveying two rather unique interpretations of the measurements of the Boat, we first need to present the Medrash Yalkut, which comments on the Pasuk in Bereishis "And the snake was cunning ". The Medrash relates how the Angels, jealous of Adam, who with his power of free choice, they considered a threat to their superiority. So they arrived at the decision to make Adam sin. And it was precisely because the snake, who originally walked on two legs, was so wickedly astute, that Sama'el, one of the greatest Angels in Heaven, picked the snake as his emissary to carry out that task. From that time on, he explains, everything that the snake did, was merely carrying out the wishes of Sama'el (who incidently, is the Angel of Eisav, alias the Satan). Indeed, the combination of Sama'el and the snake are often described as 'Samael riding on the snake'. Interestingly, R. Bachye points out that 'ha'Nachash' and 'ha'Satan' share the same Gematriah.

*

Based on the above Medrash, here are two rather ingenious interpretations of the measurements of No'ach's Boat, allowing us a glimpse into a world of the deeper meanings of Torah with which we are thoroughly unfamiliar (even though admittedly, they may leave more not understood than what is).

R. Shimshon from Ostropol points out that if you take the Gematriyah of 'Sama'el' (131) and 'Nachash' (358) = 489, and subtract the measurements of the Boat (300+50+30+1 [its top edge]), you will be left with the total of 108 = 'Chomos' (robbery with violence, the catalyst which brought on the Flood, even though it was not the major sin of which they were guilty, as we saw above in the explanation of the K'li Yakar).

*

Rebbi Nasan Adler puts it like this: If you take the words "Sama'el' & 'Nachash', you will find the last two letters of the former ('Alef' & 'Lamed' [the name of G-d]), and the first and last letters of the latter ('Nun' & 'Shin'), are equivalent to the four measurements of Noach's Boat. What this means is that, as a result of the spiritual effort that No'ach put into the construction of the Boat, he placed G-d's Name after Sama'el, as a buffer to keep him in check, and a spiritual 'Nun' and 'Shin' at the beginning and at the end of the snake's name, to contain him. Had he not done so, it appears, the two of them would have destroyed the world.

* * *

Parshah Pearls

Challenging G-d & Getting Burned

At the end of Parshas Bereishis, on the Pasuk ("And No'ach found favour in the eyes of Hashem"), the Rosh cites a Medrash which describes how No'ach warned the Nefilim (the angels who fell from heaven) and who became the worst sinners in the time of the Flood, that if they did not desist from their sins, an awesome flood would engulf them. But they remained unperturbed. If the flood came from the sky, they argued, they were so tall that it would not reach their necks; whereas if it came from the underground fountains, they would simply block the openings with the soles of their huge feet. So No'ach's threats did not move them.

What did G-d do, says the Medrash? He boiled the water of the underground fountains, so that, when the giants placed their feet on the openings to block it, they were scolded by the boiling water, to the point that it burned the skin off their feet.

*

No'ach No'ach

"These are the generations of No'ach, No'ach was a righteous man, he was perfect in his generations " (6:9). No'ach means 'pleasant', and the Torah repeats the word, to teach us that he was pleasant (well-liked) in Heaven and pleasant on earth, says the Rosh.

What's more, he adds, anyone whose name is mentioned twice consecutively in the Torah was a Tzadik, like we find by Avraham. And the Torah does so here, even though it refers to No'ach as a Tzadik anyway, says the Rosh, to dispel the notion that he was only a Tzadik compared to the Resha'im in his generation. By repeating his name, the Torah teaches us that he was a genuine Tzadik, and would have been considered one in any generation. We know of course, from Rashi, that not everyone agrees with that.

*

Special Merits

" he was (Hoyoh) in his generations" (Ibid).

In connection with whosoever the Torah uses the word "hoyoh", that person did not only live to see a new world, but also merited to sustain others. And we find these specifications by No'ach, Yosef, Moshe and Iyov, by each of whom the word "hoyoh" appears (Rosh).

*

A Good Drainage System

"And to an Amah you shall finish it on top" (6:16).

No'ach's boat had a sloping roof, the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos explains, so that the water would flow off it, instead of collecting on top and causing it to sink.

In that case, they ask, why was the roof one Amah wide? Surely one Amah was sufficient for a lot of water to gather and threaten the boat's safety?

Therefore, they cite R. Yosef Ca'aro (a Rishon who lived long before the Shulchan Aruch), who explains that the boat actually came to a point on top, and the width refers to the one Amah below the roof where they fixed the light (see Rashi).

*

Two Kinds of Tehorim

"Take for yourself from all the Tahor animals, seven from each species, male and female" (7:2)

'Tahor', Rashi points out, refers those species of animals that would later be permitted for Yisrael to eat. From here, says Rashi, Chazal learn that No'ach must have studied Torah. Otherwise, how would he have known the Kasher species of animals from the non-Kasher ones?

The Da'as Zekeinum M.T. queries this from a Gemara in Zevachim (116a), which explains how No'ach knew the Kasher animals from the fact that the boat automatically allowed them entry (and not based on his Torah-knowledge).

They therefore cite others who explain that the real proof lies in the fact that he sacrificed from the Kasher species of animals when he left the boat (and not from when he went in).

But that is no proof either, they counter,seeing as he would have known which animals to sacrifice, from the animals of which seven were allowed on the boat (and not just two), as Rashi will explain later (8:20), without having to 'refer to the Shulchan Aruch'.

*

The Da'as Zekeinim M.T. finally concede that Rashi is right after all; and the Gemara in Zevachim is not talking about animals that were Halachically Tamei, but about animals that were spiritually defected (i.e. those animals that had mixed breeds [see Rashi 6:20], irrespective of whether they actually belonged to a Kasher species of animal or not). And what's more, they say, it is perfectly appropriate to use the term 'Tamei' with reference to adultery, seeing as the Torah itself does so in Acharei-Mos (18:30).

*

Families

"According to their families, they (the animals) exited the Boat" (8:19).

Since when do animals have families, asks the Da'as Zekeinim M.T.?

This refers however, to the animals that had not mixed breeds, as we just explained, since it was only they who were allowed to enter the Boat.

*

The Rosh however, citing Rashi, explains that this Pasuk is speaking, not about the past, but about the future, and it teaches us that the animals left the Boat with an undertaking to breed only with their own species.

And he cites the Gemara in Cheilek (Sanhedrin 108b) which states "le'Mishpechoseihem,", 've'lo heim'. Literally, this rather baffling Pasuk means "to their families", ' but not them', which the Rosh explains to mean that although the animals undertook to stick to their own species, No'ach and family were afraid to breed at all, for fear that, at some stage, G-d would bring another flood on the world, and wipe out the whole of mankind - until He swore to them that He would never bring a flood of such magnitude again, and clinched it with the sign of the rainbow (which follows in the Torah immediately).

*

Peleg

"And Eiver fathered two sons, the name of the first one was Peleg, because in his days, the land was divided " (10:25). Bearing in mind that that generation was called the 'Dor Haflogoh' (which actually contain the letters of Peleg's name), the Pasuk is referring to the spreading out of the world's inhabitants to different countries and nationalities, from the valley of Bavel, where they had all lived until then. This is indeed how Rashi interprets the Pasuk. And what's more, he says, the event took place in the last year of Peleg's life (see Rashi here and in Vayeiro 19:20).

The Pasuk also teaches us, says Rashi, that Eiver was a Navi, who foresaw what would happen in his son's lifetime, and named him accordingly.

*

The Da'as Zekeimnim M.T. however, citing R. Yosef Ka'ro, interprets the 'division' in the Pasuk with regard to the curtailing of people's lives from the four hundreds down to the two hundreds (Chizkuni).

The Seforno combines the two explanations, in that the curtailing of the people's lifespan was the result of the sin of the Dor Haflogoh.

* * *

HIGHLIGHTS FROM TARGUM YONASAN

"And the dove returned to him at evening time, and in its beak it held a torn, picked olive-leaf that was cut and dead, that he had brought from the Mountain of Olives " (8:11).

*

" No'ach built a Mizbei'ach before Hashem, that is the Mizbei'ach which Adam built when he was banished from Gan Eden, and on which first he, and then Kayin and Hevel, brought Korbanos; However, when the water of the Flood descended, it broke apart. And No'ach now rebuilt it and sacrificed on it, four from each species of Tahor animal and bird" (8:20).

*

" No'ach now began to work on the land. He found a vine past which a river from Gan Eden flowed, and he planted a vineyard with it. On that very day it grew buds, the grapes ripened and he pressed them (to make wine)" (9:20).

*

"May Hashem make beautiful the borders of Yefes, and they will convert and dwell in the tents of Shem " (9:27).

*

"Nimrod went out of that land and he reigned in Assyria, because he did not want to take part in the plot of the Dor Haflogoh (who built the Tower of Bavel); so he left these four towns (Bavel, Hadas, Netzivin & K'tispon). So Hashem gave him instead an area where he built four other towns Ninveh, Palti'as , Paryos & Talsar (Resen)" (9:11).

* * *

THE MITZVOS AND THEIR MEANING
(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)

Please bear in mind that the rulings in this article reflect the opinion of the Seifer ha'Chinuch and are not necessarily Halachah.

Mitzvah 73:
Not to Eat Tereifah (cont.)

It is not necessary to inspect an animal or a bird before eating it, to ensure that it has none of the T'reifos listed by the Chachamim. This is because, based on the fact that the majority of animals and birds are healthy, we assume each animal and bird that is Shechted not to be a T'reifah. The only exception to this rule is T'reifus of the lung, known as Sircha (a moist discharge that is attached to the lung, causing the membrane of the lung to stick to it, until eventually, it punctures it), which is common. Consequently, one is obligated to examine the lung, to see which side of the lung contains the discharge, and if it is in a location that it was likely to have punctured the membrane whilst the animal moved; then, based on the principle that 'Whatever is bound to be holed is considered as if it is already holed', it is as if the animal was dead (even though it was factually still alive)', and is therefore T'reifah. (The author follows with a lengthy synopsis of the Dinim of Sirchos. He continues ) And this Mitzvah is repeated in Seifer Yechezkel (44:31), in connection with the Kohanim exclusively, where the Navi writes "All Neveilah and T'reifah the Kohanim shall not eat". The Chachamim ascribe this to the fact that the Torah commands the Kohanim to eat a bird sin-offering by means of Melikah (piercing its neck) instead of Shechting it as one does with Chulin birds, even though this method of slaughtering a Chulin bird would render it T'reifah. One might therefore have assumed that, since the Torah permits the Kohanim to eat Kodshim birds in this manner, this ruling will extend to Chulin birds, which they may eat via the same form of preparation or via a Shechitah that would not be Kasher in the case of a Chulin animal. That is why they needed to include the Kohanim in all the Dinim of Neveilah regarding Chulin.

This Mitzvah applies everywhere and at all times, to men and women. Someone who contravenes it and eats a k'Zayis of T'reifah, or any of the cases mentioned earlier, receives Malkos. Do not ask as to why this is not a 'La'av she'bi'K'lalos' (a La'av that incorporates many La'avin), which is normally exempt from Malkos? In fact, the Rambam and the Ramban in Seifer ha'Mitzvos discuss this point. Both conclude that although this La'av does indeed incorporate a number of things, it does not fall under the category of 'La'av she'bi'K'l'alus'.

*

Mitzvah 92:
Not to Cook Meat Together with Milk

We are forbidden to cook the meat of an animal together with milk, as the Torah writes in Mishpatim (23:19) "Do not cook a kid in the milk of its mother". As the Gemara explains in Chulin, the Torah does not mean specifically the meat of a kid, but includes that of any animal, which the word "G'di also implies"; and the Torah uses the kid as an example of an animal, because its meat is soft and tender. And we learn this from the fact that, on a number of occasions, the Torah sees fit to use the expression 'a kid-goat' (G'di-Izim). Implying that when it uses the word 'G'di' alone, it incorpotrates the meat of any animal.

A reason for the Mitzvah would seem to be similar to the reason that we gave for the prohibition of witchcraft - because there are certain things whose mixture we are forbidden to produce. It is possible that mixing meat with milk by means of cooking belongs to that category of sin. Proof for this theory lies in the fact that we are forbidden to cook them together even though we do not intend to eat them, conveying the impression that the prohibition is not so much due the harm that eating them together will cause, as the intrinsic act of mixing the two species, to distance ourselves as far as possible from doing so. The Torah also warns us elsewhere against eating them together or deriving any other benefit from them, to distance us from the basic sin. Even someone who eats the mixture without deriving any benefit from it, is subject to Malkos too, which is not the case with regard to other Isurei Achilah - a further proof that it is the actual mixture about which the Torah is particular, just as we explained with regard to Kishuf. However, the author adds, this reason is rather pushed, and we still need to come on to those who know a more traditional reason for the prohibition (bear in mind that this La'av falls under the category of Chukim). The Rambam however, gives a quite different reason to explain 'Basar be'Chalav'. He explains that the Torah distances the mixture of meat and milk due to the fact that there are some idolaters who actually worship it. This reason however, does not appeal to the Seifer ha'Chinuch.

The author will discuss some of the Dinim of the Mitzvah in the Mitzvah of not eating or benefiting from the mixture, in Parshas Ki Sisa (Mitzvah 113).

This Mitzvah applies everywhere at all times to both men and women. Anyone who contravenes it and cooks meat together with milk has transgressed, even though he does not actually eat it.

* * *

For sponsorships and adverts call 651 9502


Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues


This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael Classes,
send mail to parsha@shemayisrael.co.il

http://www.shemayisrael.co.il
Jerusalem, Israel
732-370-3344

*