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Friday, October 16, 2015

Parashat Noah 5776

Our parasha tells us that not only were the people of the flood generation wicked, but so were all living beings. Rashi, relating the midrash, tells us this was the result of animals having sex outside of their species.

בראשית פרשת בראשית - נח פרק ו
Genesis Chapter 6
(12) Then God saw the land and behold it was corrupt; for every flesh corrupted its way on the earth.
(יב) וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים אֶת־הָאָרֶץ וְהִנֵּה נִשְׁחָתָה כִּי־הִשְׁחִית כָּל־בָּשָׂר אֶת־דַּרְכּוֹ עַל־הָאָרֶץ: ס

רש"י בראשית פרשת בראשית - נח פרק ו
Rashi, Genesis Chapter 6
Shlomo Yitzchaki, 11th and 12th Centuries France and Germany
כי השחית כל בשר - אפילו בהמה חיה ועוף נזקקין לשאינן מינן:
For every flesh corrupted - even the domesticated animals, wild animals, and birds clung to those not of their kind.

Later in our parasha, Noah is commanded to take seven of every “pure” [טהור] animal and two of every “not pure” [לא טהורה]. (There is an interesting midrash on why the Torah does not use the more definitive “impure” [טמא], but I leave that to the reader.) These terms are rather ambiguous in this context.
בראשית פרשת נח פרק ז
Genesis Chapter 7
(1) Then Hashem said to Noah, “Go, you and all of your house to the ark, for you I saw as righteous before Me in this generation.
(א) וַיֹּאמֶר יְקֹוָק לְנֹחַ בֹּא־אַתָּה וְכָל־בֵּיתְךָ אֶל־הַתֵּבָה כִּי־אֹתְךָ רָאִיתִי צַדִּיק לְפָנַי בַּדּוֹר הַזֶּה:
(2) “Of each pure land animal take seven by seven, man and his wife; and from land animals  that are not impure, two man and his wife.
(ב) מִכֹּל הַבְּהֵמָה הַטְּהוֹרָה תִּקַּח־לְךָ שִׁבְעָה שִׁבְעָה אִישׁ וְאִשְׁתּוֹ וּמִן־הַבְּהֵמָה אֲשֶׁר לֹא טְהֹרָה הִוא שְׁנַיִם אִישׁ וְאִשְׁתּוֹ:
(3) “Also from the birds of the sky seven by seven, males and female to give life to offspring on the face of the entire earth.
(ג) גַּם מֵעוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם שִׁבְעָה שִׁבְעָה זָכָר וּנְקֵבָה לְחַיּוֹת זֶרַע עַל־פְּנֵי כָל־הָאָרֶץ:
(4) “For in another seven says I will cause it to rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights; and I will wipe out all that subsists which I may made from the face of the land.”
(ד) כִּי לְיָמִים עוֹד שִׁבְעָה אָנֹכִי מַמְטִיר עַל־הָאָרֶץ אַרְבָּעִים יוֹם וְאַרְבָּעִים לָיְלָה וּמָחִיתִי אֶת־כָּל־הַיְקוּם אֲשֶׁר עָשִׂיתִי מֵעַל פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה:

Rashi explains “pure” and “impure” as those later taught to Israel in Leviticus. Noah himself must have learned Torah. Rashi explains that more pure animals were needed so that Noah could sacrifice to God after the flood.
רש"י בראשית פרשת נח פרק ז
Rashi, Genesis Chapter 7
The pure - to be pure to Israel in the future; we learn that Noah learned Torah.
הטהורה - העתידה להיות טהורה לישראל, למדנו שלמד נח תורה:
Seven by seven - so that he could make a sacrifice of them upon exiting [the ark].
שבעה שבעה - כדי שיקריב מהם קרבן בצאתו:
Also of the bird of the sky, etc.  - About the pure the text is discussing. And it teaches the opaque from the explained.
גם מעוף השמים וגו' - בטהורים הכתוב מדבר. וילמד סתום מן המפורש:

In fact, we see that Noah does sacrifice the pure animals to God. This sacrifice causes God to promise to no longer disrupt the normal flow of nature, which God lists through four pairs of time periods.
בראשית פרשת נח פרק ח
Genesis Chapter 8
(20) Then Noah built an altar for Hashem; then he took from all the pure land animals and of all the pure birds and offered them up as olot on the altar.
(כ) וַיִּבֶן נֹחַ מִזְבֵּחַ לַיקֹוָק וַיִּקַּח מִכֹּל הַבְּהֵמָה הַטְּהֹרָה וּמִכֹּל הָעוֹף הַטָּהוֹר וַיַּעַל עֹלֹת בַּמִּזְבֵּחַ:
(21) Then Hashem smelled the pleasing smell; then Hashem said in His heart, “I will not continue further to curse the land due to man; for the inclination of the heart of the man is evil from his youth; and I will not continue further to strike all that lives as I did.
(כא) וַיָּרַח יְקֹוָק אֶת־רֵיחַ הַנִּיחֹחַ וַיֹּאמֶר יְקֹוָק אֶל־לִבּוֹ לֹא־אֹסִף לְקַלֵּל עוֹד אֶת־הָאֲדָמָה בַּעֲבוּר הָאָדָם כִּי יֵצֶר לֵב הָאָדָם רַע מִנְּעֻרָיו וְלֹא־אֹסִף עוֹד לְהַכּוֹת אֶת־כָּל־חַי כַּאֲשֶׁר עָשִׂיתִי:
(22) “Further, all the days of the land: sowing and reaping, cold and warmth, summer and winter, day and night will not cease.”
(כב) עֹד כָּל־יְמֵי הָאָרֶץ זֶרַע וְקָצִיר וְקֹר וָחֹם וְקַיִץ וָחֹרֶף וְיוֹם וָלַיְלָה לֹא יִשְׁבֹּתוּ:

However, recalling our earlier point in the Torah, as explained by Rashi, that many animals were sinful too, the midrash here explains that “pure” and “impure” refer not to animals available to eat in the future for Israel, but to those animals who refrained from mixing sexually with other species.
מדרש תנחומא (בובר) פרשת נח
Midrash Tanchuma (Buber edition), Parashat Noah
ללמדך שאף הם ערבו משפחותיהם, והיו הולכין על מין שאינו שלהן, כל מין ומין על מין שאינו שלו, וקרא הקב"ה לנח ויאמר לו בחר לך בהמה וחיה ועוף [מאותן] שלא ערבבו את משפחותיהן, שנאמר מכל הבהמה הטהורה, טהורה כשם שנבראת
To teach you that even they [the animals] mixed their families and went after species that were not theirs. Each species on a species not of its kind. And the Holy One, blessed be He called to Noah and said to him, “Choose for yourself domesticated animals, wild animals, and birds from those that did not mix their families, as it says, ‘From all the pure land animals.’ Pure like they were created.

Returning to the question of sacrificing, the Tosefta tells us that before the Tabernacle was erected sacrifices had fewer regulations. However, they were still only restricted to pure animals.
תוספתא מסכת זבחים (צוקרמאנדל) פרק יג, הלכה א
Tosefta Tractate Z’vachim (Zuckermendl Edition), Chapter 13, Law 1
עד שלא הוקם המשכן היו הבמות מותרות
While the Tabernacle was not yet constructed, individual altars were permissible.
מה הן מקריבין בהמה חיה ועוף גדולים וקטנים זכרים ונקבות תמימין ובעלי מומין טהורין אבל לא טמאין
What would they sacrifice? Domesticated animals, wild animals, and birds. Old and young, male and female, large and small, male and female, unblemished and blemished, pure but not impure.

Commenting on our Tosefta, the Talmud asks how there could have been concepts of “pure” and “impure” animals before the Tabernacle. It explains that these terms refer to animals used for sinful purposes (here the blame is not on the animals as much as on people using them). Since distinguishing would be a difficult task for Noah, the ark miraculously did so for him.
תלמוד בבלי מסכת זבחים דף קטז עמוד א
Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Z’vachim, 116a
“Pure but not impure.” But were there impure and pure at that time?
טהורין אבל לא טמאין. ומי הוו טמאין וטהורין בההיא שעתא?
Said Rebbi Shmuel son of Nachmani, said Rebbi Yochanan, “Of those not used for a sin.”
א"ר שמואל בר נחמני א"ר יונתן: מאותן שלא נעבדה בהן עבירה.
From where did they know? Like Rav Chisda, as said Rav Chisda, “He passed them in front of the ark. And that which the ark collected, it was know that it is pure. [If] the ark did not collect them - it was know that they were impure.”
מנא הוו ידעי? כדרב חסדא, דאמר רב חסדא: העבירן לפני התיבה, כל שהתיבה קולטת - בידוע שהוא טהור, אין התיבה קולטתן - בידוע שהן טמאין.

In tractate Sanhedrin the Talmud presents a similar argument. However, its question is not about pure and impure but about the phrase “man and his wife” used in regards to the number of animals. This would imply that all of the animals, pure and impure, had to be the types that stayed within their species. This reopens the possibility that “pure” and “impure” refer to dietary laws and that Noah learned Torah.
תלמוד בבלי מסכת סנהדרין דף קח עמוד ב
Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 108b
מכל הבהמה הטהורה תקח לך שבעה שבעה איש ואשתו, אישות לבהמה מי אית לה?
“Of each pure land animal take seven by seven, man and his wife.” Do animals have wives?
אמר רבי שמואל בר נחמני אמר רבי יונתן: מאותם שלא נעבדה בהם עבירה.
Said Rebbi Shmuel son of Nachmani, said Rebbi Yonatan, “Of those not used for a sin.”
מנא ידע? - אמר רב חסדא: שהעבירן לפני התיבה, כל שהתיבה קולטתו - בידוע שלא נעבדה בהם עבירה, וכל שאין התיבה קולטתו - בידוע שנעבדה בה עבירה.
From where did he know? Said Rav Chisda, “That he passed them in front of the ark. Any that the ark collected, it was known that it was not used for a sin. And any that the ark did not collect, it was known that it was used for a sin.”

The version of this midrash in Yalkut Shimoni returns us again to the idea that purity here is about future dietary laws. However, in this version the ark collects for Noah, so the idea that Noah learned Torah is again challenged.
ילקוט שמעוני תורה פרשת נח, רמז נט
Yalkut Shimoni, [on] Torah, Parashat Noah, Remez 59
Pure but not impure. At that time were there pure and impure?
טהורה אבל לא טמאה, טהורה וטמאה בההיא שעתא מי הוי
Said Rebbi Shmuel son of Nachmani, said Rebbi Yochanan, “From those who would be pure in the future.”
אמר ר' שמואל בר נחמן אמר ר' יונתן מאותן שעתידין ליטהר
From where did he know? Said Rav Chisda, “He passed them in front of the ark. Any that the ark collected was pure.”
מנא ידע אמר רב חסדא העבירום לפני התיבה כל שהתיבה קולטתו טהור

The Chizkuni, in the first part of his explanation, explains as we noticed earlier. There are two types of pure and impure under discussion. In the Torah it refers to dietary laws and those Noah distinguished by his learning. In the Talmud, purity is a concept around mixing species. All of the animals Noah brought into the ark were pure in this regard and the ark made the distinction for him.

He brings a second explanation that makes purity about dietary laws in all cases. However, while Noah’s learning allowed him to distinguish in regards to land animals. However, as we learn in tractate Chullin, it is difficult to pin down principles in regards to kosher birds. So the ark helped Noah in that regard.

Finally, the Chizkuni presents us with two ideas behind why more pure animals were needed on the ark. One, similar to Rashi, is that Noah needed them for sacrifices (in particular one for each family member). Second is that kosher animals are more fit to eat. He struggles a bit with the fact that non-Jews eat non-kosher animals, but he finds an explanation for why their numbers would not need to be as high. Here we see an attempt at explaining the difference between kosher and non-kosher animals.
חזקוני בראשית פרשת נח פרק ז
Chizkuni, Genesis Chapter 7
Chezkiyahu son of Manoah, 13th Century France
Rashi explained from here that Noah learned Torah. And if you say, that which we said in tractate Z’vachim, “At that time were there impure and pure?” And it teaches, “Yes, there were. And from where did he know? He passed them in front of the ark. Any that the ark collected it was pure. [If] the ark did not collect it, it was impure.” Therefore, he did not know which was pure and which was impure except through the collecting of the ark.
פרש"י מכאן שלמד נח תורה. וא"ת הא אמרינן בזבחים טמאים וטהורים בההיא שעתא מי הוו ומשני אין הוו ומנא ידע העבירם לפני התיבה כל שהתיבה קולטתו טהור אין התיבה קולטתו טמא אלמא לא ידע מי טהור ומי טמא אלא מתוך קליטת התיבה
And what is this that he said that Noah learned Torah? Rather, there is to say that this is its interpretation. From where did he [Noah] know which clung to its own type and which did not cling to its own type, whether pure or impure? And it taught any that the ark collected it, etc. And the pure and impure it is discussing there [in the Talmud], that it collected the pure and did not collect this impure, is dealing with sexual impropriety. As it says about sexual impropriety, “Do not become impure through them.”
ומאי האי דקאמר שלמד נח תורה. אלא י"ל דהכי הוה פירושא מנא ידע מי דבק במינו ומי לא דבק במינו בין טמאים בין טהורים ומשני כל שהתיבה קולטתו וכו' וטמאים וטהורים דהתם דאמר, קולטתו טהור לא קולטתו טמא, שייך גבי ערוה כדאמר בעריות אל תטמאו בהם
But the pure and impure here [in the Torah] that is about eating. And when the pure were recognized from among the others, we learn that he learned Torah, as Rashi explained.
וטהרה וטומאה דהכא היינו באכילה וכשהכירה טהורות לאכילה מבין האחרות למדנו שלמד תורה כמו שפירש"י.
Another idea: there in tractate Z’vachim is about birds. It challenges, “From where did he know if they were pure or impure,” for the impure types of birds are many and one cannot rely on their principle. And it teaches that he passed them in front of the ark. But about the land animals it did not challenge, for there are not that many types of land animals. And he did not need to pass them in from of the ark. And in that he recognized the land animals without passing in front of the ark, we learn that he learned Torah.
ד"א התם בזבחים בעופות פריך מנא ידע אם  טהורים אם טמאים שהרי מיני עופות טמאים מרובים ואין לעמוד בסודם ומשני העבירם לפני התיבה אבל אבהמה לא פריך שאין מין בהמה מרובה כל כך ולא היה צריך להעבירם לפני התיבה וכשהכיר הבהמה בלא העברה לפני התיבה למדנו שלמד תורה.
Another idea: From all the pure animals: the clean. Since they are reduced due to eating, take from them seven males and seven females. For if you only take from them two, male and his wife, they will be finished.
ד"א מכל הבהמה הטהורה הנקיה. מתוך שממעטים אותם על ידי אכילה תקח לך ממנה, שבעה זכרים ושבעה נקבות ואם לא תביא מהם רק שנים איש ואשתו יהיו כלים,
But from the impure and the disgusting to eat, it is enough for one pair. And even though there are those of them that the nations eat, like pig and the like, they breed and give birth to many in one litter.
אבל מן הטמאה והמאוסה לאכול, סגי בזוג אחד. ואעפ"י שיש מהם שהאומות אוכלין כגון חזיר וכיוצא בו הם משריצים ויולדים הרבה בכרס אחד.
And since the Text increased the number of pure ones male and female, Noah understood that the Holy One, blessed be He, desired that he should sacrifice to Him from among them. For it is the law for an olah sacrifice that it comes from the males, as is written, “If it his sacrifice is an olah, he shall sacrifice an unblemished male.” And that he took from every pure type seven males, it was to sacrifice from them seven olot for him, his wife, and seven sons. And the remaining two males were “to give life to offspring.”
ומתוך שריבה הכתוב בטהורות זכרים ונקבות הבין נח שהקב"ה חפץ שיקריב לו מהן קרבן שכן משפט עולה באה זכר כדכתיב אם עולה קרבנו זכר תמים יקריבנו. ומה שלקח מכל מין טהור שבעה זכרים, כדי להקריב מהם חמש עולות לו ולאשתו ולשלשת בניו, ונשתיירו שנים זכרים לחיות זרע.

The Radak similarly explains along the line of diet, explaining that pure animals are better to eat. He even implies that everyone would only eat kosher animals if there were less hunger in the world. (This needs further investigation.)
רד"ק בראשית פרשת נח פרק ז
Radak, Genesis, Chapter 7
David Kimchi, 12th and 13th Centuries France
And that which was said that they came seven by seven from the pure and two from the impure was not only for Noah to make a sacrifice upon exiting the ark. For if so, fewer than seven would be sufficient for him. For we only see that Noah sacrificed one time. And if he sacrificed more, it would be possible to sacrifice from those born of them after a year or two or more.
ומה שאמר שבאו שבעה שבעה מן הטהורים ושנים מן הטמאים לא לעשות קרבן בצאת נח מן התבה לבד, שאם כן די לו בפחות משבעה, כי לא ראינו שהקריב נח אלא פעם אחת, ואם הקריב יותר יוכל להקריב מן הנולדים מהם לשנה או לשנתים או יותר,
Rather that God wanted to leave seven of the pure was for Noah and his children who came after him to eat from them. For He increased the number of pure ones since He desired to permit meat for him to eat which He had not permitted to a person before him.
אלא מה שרצה האל להשאיר מן הטהורה שבעה כדי שיאכלו מהם נח ובניו הבאים אחריהם, שהרבה מיני הטהורים לפי שהיה רוצה להתיר לו בשר לאכול מה שלא התיר לאדם שלפניו.
And even though He did not restrain any meat from him from among the impure, as it says, “Any meat that lives to you shall be to eat,” until He withheld from the holy children of Israel. Nonetheless, according to nature the pure are better to eat for people than the impure. And the majority the people of the other nations only eat the impure due to hunger. Therefore He needed to leave from the pure animals more than the impure to eat from them and give life to offspring.
ואע"פ שלא מנע ממנו שום בשר מהטמאים כמו שאמר "כל בשר אשר הוא חי לכם יהיה לאכלה" עד שמנעה מבני ישראל הקדושים, אעפ"כ לפי הטבע הטהורות טובות יותר למאכל בני אדם מהטמאות, וברוב לא יאכלו בני אדם בשאר האומות הטמאים אלא מפני הרעב, לפיכך היה צריך להשאיר בבהמות הטהורות יותר מן הטמאות כדי לאכול מהם ולחיות זרע

Coming back to the idea that the pure animals were needed for sacrifices (since he’s defending Rashi), the Gur Aryeh explains that a pair of animals was needed for a sacrifice during each of the six pairs of time periods God promises us will not cease. This leaves one pair for reproducing. These might also be some ancient form of holiday with parallels to our five (or six including Shimini Atzeret) holidays which require extra sacrifices.
גור אריה בראשית פרשת נח פרק ז
Gur Aryeh, Genesis Chapter 7
Yehuda Loeb, 16th Century Poland
And if you were to say, why exactly seven by seven? And one can answer in parallel with the six times: sowing and reaping, cold and warm, summer and winter. And one pair will be for him to uphold the species like with the impure. And since each of the six times is each two months, as we have in tractate Bava Metziah, therefore six pairs: for each time on pair.
ואם תאמר למה שבעה שבעה דוקא, ויש לתרץ נגד ששה זמנים; זרע וקציר, וקור וחום, וקיץ וחורף, וזוג אחד יהיה לו לקיום המין כמו בטמאים. ולפי שהו' זמנים כל אחד ואחד ב' חדשים, כדאיתא בבבא מציעא (קו:), לכך ו' זוגות, לכל זמן - זוג אחד.

The Daf al HaDaf provides several answers as to why, if Noah learned Torah so as to distinguish between pure and impure the ark needed to collect the animals. Two answers see the ark as helping Noah since acting on his learning would have been very difficult. The middle answer is that the ark did the distinguishing, but without learning Torah the entire concept of distinguishing would have been opaque to Noah. Implied is that he would then have been confused why some animals had seven pairs and some two.
דף על הדף זבחים דף קטז עמוד א
Daf al HaDaf Z’vachim, 116a
David Abraham Mendelbaum, 20th Century Israel
And written there is an answer in the name of the holy Rav Gamliel the Cohen Rabinowitz (may he live for many good years, amen)... that for sure Noah learned Torah. However, he required the help of the ark. For one of the signs of a pure [bird] animals is the thick stomach that peels away. And this sign is impossible to recognize before slaughtering, and Noah could not check them. And for this only by what the ark collected did Noah know that it was pure also by its internal signs...  
וכתב שם לתרץ בשם הרה"ק ר' גמליאל הכהן רבינוביץ שליט"א (מח"ס גם אני אודך) ... שודאי שנח למד תורה, ומכל מקום היה זקוק לעזרת התיבה, שהרי אחד מסימני הבהמה הטהורה הוא קורקבן נקלף, וסימן זה אי אפשר לדעת קודם שחיטה, ולא היה יכול נח לבודקם. ולכך רק ממה שהתיבה קלטה ידע נח כי היא טהורה גם בסימניה הפנימיים...
It is further explained, here in the Maharsha, that for sure the knowledge of whom to give entry to the ark as pure and who is impure Noah knew from what the ark collected. But from all of this Rashi proves that Noah knew Torah. For if not so, Noah would have no sense of the concept of pure and impure. For one who did not learn Torah, all animals are the same. And only the laws of the Torah came up with the novel idea of separating between impure and pure.
עוד תירץ, דהנה במהרש"א כאן מבואר, שבודאי הידיעה את מי להכניס לתיבה כטהורה ואת מי כטמאה, ידע נח ממה שקלטה התיבה. ובכל זאת הוכיח רש"י שנח למד תורה, שאם לא כן נח לא היה יודע בכלל מהמושג של טמאה וטהורה. שהרי למי שלא למד תורה כל הבהמות הם אותו דבר, ורק בדיני התורה התחדש לחלק בין טמא לטהור....
Nonetheless, after he learned the signs of impure and pure, and his thought process was to fulfill the commandment of the Holy One, blessed be He, to give entry to the ark to domesticated animals and wild animals, the Holy One, blessed be He made a miracle and the ark itself knew how to distinguish between the impure and pure to make it easier for Noah such that he would not need to stress too much in checking every animal...
ומכל מקום אחרי שהוא למד את סימני טומאה וטהרה, ומחשבתו היתה לקיים את מצות הקב"ה להכניס לתיבה בהמות וחיות, עשה הקב"ה נס והתיבה בעצמה היתה יודעת להבחין בין הטמא לטהור, כדי להקל על נח שלא יצטרך לטרוח הרבה בבדיקת כל בהמה...

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