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Noach Q & A

Noach Q & A


"אלה תולדות נח נח איש צדיק תמים היה בדרתיו את האלקים התהלך נח"
“These are the offspring of Noach: Noach was a righteous man, perfect in his generation; with G‑d Noach walked.” (6:9)

QUESTION: The Torah given to us by Hashem is concise. Why, then, does it describe Noach’s virtues in so much detail?

ANSWER: Our sages divide the mitzvot into two categories: 1) our duties towards G‑d and 2) our responsibilities towards our fellow human beings.

Some people are strict in observing their duties towards Hashem. They pray with devotion, study Torah diligently, and keep mitzvot like tzitzit, tefillin, Shabbat and Yom Tov etc. meticulously. Although they observe the precepts for Hashem with great care, they may lack the sincerity and respect for the rights and belongings of their fellows.

Others may be very careful in their relations with their fellow men and women, helping those in need and showing respect towards others. However, they are lax in their duties towards Hashem. They may not say their prayers the way they should, study as much Torah as they can, or take proper care to fulfill the mitzvot.

In this verse, the Torah tells us that Noach was a righteous man in every sense: “Perfect in his generation” — in his relationships with others. He also “walked with G‑d” — serving Him properly.

(פרדס יוסף)

"נח איש צדיק תמים היה בדרתיו את האלקים התהלך נח"
“Noach was a righteous man, perfect in his generation; with G‑d Noach walked.” (6:9)

QUESTION: A tzaddik is someone who “walks with G‑d” — who observes carefully whatever Hashem says. To say that Noach was a tzaddik and that “with G‑d Noach walked” seems redundant?

ANSWER: There are many different types of people. Some observe Torah and mitzvot at home, but when they are among their friends they do things which a Torah-observant Jew should not be doing. For example, at home they are very careful with kashrut, but when they eat out with friends they are not as careful. Others, act very frum (pious) in the company of their friends, but when they are alone at home with no one watching, there is much to be desired. For example, in shul they daven with much kavanah, but at home, they race through the davening in a few minutes.

The Torah is testifying that Noach was a tzaddik, and goes on to explain what type of tzaddik he was: 1) “He was perfect in his generation” — when he was among the people of his generation he acted in a very observant manner. 2) “With G‑d Noach walked” — when he was alone with only Hashem seeing his behavior, Noach walked in the path of Hashem.

(ילקוט הדרוש)

"נח איש צדיק תמים היה בדרתיו"
“Noach was a righteous man, perfect in his generations.” (6:9)

QUESTION: Rashi comments: “There are some among rabboteinu — our rabbis — who explain this as praise for Noach: Were he living among tzaddikim he would have been a greater tzaddik. Others, however, explain it to his discredit: Noach was only a tzaddik in comparison to his generation: were he in the times of Avraham, he would be considered naught.” Why in the negative opinion does Rashi omit the word “rabboteinu”?

ANSWER: The word “rabboteinu” literally means “our teachers.” There are many ways to learn from a teacher. One can learn from his behavior, from his manner of speech, and from the knowledge he instills.

In Pirkei Avot (1:6) we are taught to always judge a person favorably, giving him the benefit of the doubt. To judge Noach’s status in another generation is to speculate. Thus, the rabbis who praised him are suited to be “our teachers”: we can learn from them to always look favorably on another person.

The opinion of the others (who predicted that Noach would not be so great) may be correct, but they would not be qualified as “our teachers,” who are to instruct us in judging another person.

(לקוטי בתר לקוטי ח"ב)

"כי השחית כל בשר את דרכו על הארץ"
“All flesh has corrupted his way on the earth.” (6:12)

QUESTION: The words “et darko” — “his way” — seem to be extra?

ANSWER: A story is told about a city in Europe where there lived a man named Chaim. Unfortunately, he derived his livelihood as the “city thief.” Chaim’s son was becoming Bar-Mitzvah and he invited the townspeople to the celebration. The residents were in a dilemma: If they didn’t attend, Chaim would get even with them by robbing their homes, and if they attended, how would they be assured that the food is strictly kosher? They confronted the Rabbi with their problem, and he told them that he would get back to them within a few days.

The Rabbi invited Chaim to his study and entered into a conversation. “Chaim, how do you support your family?” Chaim answered, “Everyone knows that when I need something, I go out and steal it.” “Tell me, Chaim, if the door is locked, do you also steal?” “Why not,” Chaim responded, “I break open the lock and enter.” “Should anyone stand in your way, what would you do?” “I would beat him up and remove him.” “And what if you find food, would you steal it?” “Of course, I would,” was his reply. The Rabbi them became very serious and asked, “Chaim, if you break into a home and find a piece of non-kosher meat, would you take it?” Chaim looked into the Rabbi’s eyes and in all sincerity exclaimed, “Rabbi! Do you think I’m not a Yid?!” It appears that even Chaim had limitations as to how far he would go with his wrongdoings.

In the days of Noach things had deteriorated terribly. Even all those who had a self-made definition of right and wrong destroyed, darko — his own way — and erased all lines of demarcation. They committed indiscriminately every crime in the book.

"ויאמר אלקים לנח קץ כל בשר בא לפני כי מלאה הארץ חמס מפניהם"
“G‑d said to Noach: ‘The end of all flesh has come before me, for the earth is filled with robbery through them.’” (6:13)

QUESTION: “Divine sentence was finally passed upon them only as a result of their robbery” (Rashi).

Our sages tell us that Hashem’s reward or punishment is midah keneged midah — in accordance with the nature of the person’s original act. What connection is there between humanity’s crime of robbery and the flood with which they were punished?

ANSWER: The initial 40 days of intense punishment were a result of their commiting robbery — the numerical value of the three letters of “gezel” (גזל), the Hebrew word for “robbery,” totals 40!

The flood began with 40 days of continuous rain, followed by with 150 days of unabated flood before the water began to descend in level — a total of 190 days. The numerical value of the two letters of the Hebrew word keitz (קץ) meaning “end” is 190. The “end of all flesh” was decided by Hashem to come in the form of 190 days of intense punishment.

(בעל הטורים)

"עשה לך תיבת עצי גפר"
“Make yourself an ark of gopher wood.” (6:14)

QUESTION: Rashi writes: “There are many ways of relief and salvation before Him. Why, then, did He trouble him with the construction of the ark? In order that the men of the generation of the flood should see him occupied with it for 120 years, and could ask him, ‘What is the necessity of this to you?’ and he could say to them, ‘The Holy One Blessed Be He is about to bring a flood upon the world’ — perhaps they will repent.”

Why did Noach build the ark over a period of 120 years?

ANSWER: According to the Ragatchaver Gaon, Rabbi Yosef Rosen, Rashi is of the opinion, that when Hashem told Noach “make yourself an ark,” it was with the intention that Noach personally should make the entire ark without assistance. Consequently, 120 years was not much time for one person to complete the entire project.

This appears difficult, because in the Gemara (Succah 52b), Rashi says that Noach was assisted by his son Shem?

According to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the two opinions of Rashi are contingent on the following famous question: If a Noachide has an obligation to do something and appoints another Noachide to do the task on his behalf, is it considered as though he had fulfilled his obligation?

Rashi’s commentary on the Torah follows the opinion that he must do it alone and cannot appoint an emissary (and therefore it took him 120 years) while in the Gemara he follows the opposing opinion. According to the opinion Rashi follows in the Gemara, there is no mention of the construction taking 120 years, and thus, since Shem assisted, it took Noach a much shorter period of time.

* * *

The two opinions may also be contingent on the actual purpose of the ark; was it a means of survival or a source of admonition and direction for the people?

If it was meant to provide a means of survival, Noach did not have to make it himself and it could have been completed more quickly. However, if its purpose was to admonish the people, Hashem must have wanted the ark to be constructed entirely by Noach himself, for it was his responsibility as spiritual leader of that generation to continuously guide and direct all of humanity in the proper way of serving Hashem. Hopefully, during the long period (120 years) he was occupied with the construction, he would manage to persuade the people to improve their ways.

(לקוטי שיחות חט"ו)

"צהר תעשה לתבה"
“A light shall you make for the ark.” (6:16)

QUESTION: Rashi offers two explanations of the light: 1) a window 2) a precious stone which shined and illuminated. What is the basis for the different opinions?

ANSWER: On a previous pasuk (6:9) “Noach was a righteous man; he was perfect in his generation,” Rashi quotes a disagreement among our sages (Sanhedrin 108a) about the implication of Torah’s emphasis “in his generation.” Some say it is meant as a compliment: He was truly righteous even in such a wicked generation; had he lived in a more righteous generation, he would have been even more righteous. Others, however, say it is meant as a qualifier: He was only righteous in comparison to his generation; had he lived in the generation of a truly righteous man like Avraham, he would be considered as insignificant.

Rashi’s two explanations of the “light” reflect these two opinions concerning Noach’s righteousness. According to the first opinion, that he was truly righteous, he fully deserved to be saved, and there could be no objection to his watching the destruction of his contemporaries in the flood. This opinion, then, considers the “light” to be a window through which Noach could see what was happening outside the ark.

According to the second opinion, however, that Noach was not truly righteous, and was only called righteous in comparison to his generation, he had no right to watch their destruction. (As we see, when Lot was saved from the destruction of Sodom, the angel told him (19:17) “Don’t look behind you,” to which Rashi comments: “You [Lot] were wicked together with don’t deserve to see them punished while you are saved.”) Therefore, the “light” must have been some other source of light — a precious stone which illuminated the darkness inside the ark.

(עדות ביוסף)

"ואתה קח לך מכל מאכל אשר יאכל... והיה לך ולהם לאכלה"
“And you, take for yourself of all food that will be shall be for you and for them for food.” (6:21)

QUESTION: Noach, together with his family and thousands of creatures, would be in the ark for long period of time, and would need a tremendous amount of food. How was it possible to store all of the food necessary for their survival?

ANSWER: On a similar phrase, “mikol ha’ochel asher yei’acheil” — “of all food that will be eaten” (Vayikra 11:34), the Gemara (Yoma 80a) explains that the largest piece of food capable of being swallowed by the human throat is no larger then a hen’s egg.

Therefore, we can say here, too, that when Hashem told Noah to prepare mikol ma’achal asher yei’acheil, He meant the following: “You, prepare ‘bite size’ portions, no larger than an egg, of each type of food that will be eaten. Miraculously, through this food, you and also they — your family and the thousands of animals in the ark — will be sustained.”

(קול אליהו)

* * *

When Hashem told Noach, “Ve’atah kach lecha” — “and you, take for yourself [of all food that will be eaten],” He meant that he should prepare food adequate only for himself for the duration of the flood. Miraculously, this food would increase and be sufficient for all the inhabitants of the ark: “For you and for them,” the members of your family and all the animals.

This was one of the many miracles that occurred in the ark. Another was the animal’s contentment with human food.

The following pasuk states that “Noach did all that G‑d commanded him to do.” Superficially, one may wonder, why is it necessary to state this. Would Noach have dared to deviate? The Torah is accentuating Noach’s great faith in Hashem. He entered the ark without preparing any food for the animals, and he relied on a miracle that they would be satisfied with his food and survive the flood.

(שער בת רבים - טל אורות)

"ואתה קח לך מכל מאכל אשר יאכל... והיה לך ולהם לאכלה"
“And you, take for yourself of all food that will be eaten ... it shall be for you and for them for food.” (6:21)

QUESTION: The words “asher yei’acheil” — “that will be eaten” — seem unnecessary?

ANSWER: Originally, mankind was allowed to eat only food that grew from the ground (1:29). It was only after the flood that Noach and his descendants were allowed to eat the flesh of animals, too (9:3). According to the Ramban (1:29), this was a reward to Noach for his saving the animals and caring for them in the ark.

The extra words “that will be eaten” hint at this reward. They can be taken to refer not only to the food, for the duration of the flood, but to the animals mentioned in the previous pesukim: “Because you will bring these animals into the ark and take care of their needs during the flood, you will be rewarded and acquire all the animals as ‘food that will be eaten.’ You and your generations will be allowed to eat of their flesh after the flood.”

(קדושת לוי)

"ויאמר ה' לנח בא אתה וכל ביתך אל התבה"
“G‑d said to Noach: ‘Enter, you and all your family, into the ark.’” (7:1)

QUESTION: The word “Torah” derives from the word “hora’ah” — “teaching.” Every detail of Torah teaches us eternal lessons which we can use in our daily lives. What practical lesson can we learn from Hashem’s command to Noach to enter into the ark?

ANSWER: The Hebrew word “teivah” used for “ark” (meaning here a large, floating “box”) also means “word.” Hashem is telling us also to “enter” into the “words” of Torah and prayer.

Sometimes when we study Torah we forget its holiness and the One who gave us the Torah; we say our prayers without sincerity or attention to their meaning.

Just as Noach was commanded to “enter” with his entire being into the ark (“teivah”), so we are told to “enter” with all our heart and soul into the words (“teivot”) of Torah and prayer, reading the words carefully from the Torah-book or prayer-book, saying each word with feeling.

In this way we will fulfill, in the spiritual sense, a (previous) command Hashem gave to Noach: “A light shall you make for the teivah” (6:16) — you shall illuminate the words (“teivot”) of Torah and prayer with deeper feeling and holiness, until they become “bright and shining” words that illuminate one’s whole being with G‑d’s holiness.

(בעל שם טוב)

"ויבא נח .. אל התבה מפני מי המבול"
“And Noach came...into the ark because of the waters of the flood.” (7:7)

QUESTION: Rashi comments on this: “Even Noach was one of those who had little faith (in G‑d); he believed, yet he did not believe, that the flood would come. So he did not enter the ark until the waters forced him.” This seems to contradict the opinion of some of our sages quoted by Rashi (6:9) that Noach was a truly righteous man?

ANSWER: We can reconcile Rashi’s statement with their opinion by grouping the Hebrew words differently (without changing their order) to suggest a different meaning: "אף נח מקטני אמונה היה מאמין" — “Noach even believed in those who had little faith.” He was sure that they would repent in time to avert Hashem’s decree of destruction. As a result of his deep faith in his contemporaries, "ואינו מאמין שיבא המבול" — “he did not believe that the flood would come.”

It was only the rising waters of the flood which showed him that his faith in his contemporaries had been mistaken, and he had no choice but to retreat into the ark to save at least himself and his family.

(ר' יצחק מווארקי זצ"ל)

"ומן הבהמה אשר איננה טהרה"
“And from the animals which were not clean [kosher].” (7:8)

QUESTION: The Gemara (Pesachim 3a) asks why the Torah uses the longer expression "אשר איננה טהרה" — “which were not clean” (three words and thirteen letters in Hebrew) instead of the single word "הטמאה" — “unclean” (only one word — and five letters). The Gemara answers that the Torah uses eight extra letters to teach us the eternal lesson that we should always try to express ourselves in decent language, even if it means using extra words.

The question remains, however, why elsewhere in the Torah, when it teaches us which animals may not be eaten, does it indeed use the word “hatemei’ah” — “unclean”?

ANSWER: This rule of even using extra words in order to express ourselves decently only applies when telling a story or in normal conversation. But when teaching a Torah law — for example which animals may or may not be eaten — one must be specific and use precise terms. Using extra words, even for a good purpose such as avoiding coarse language, may cause a student to lose the point and not grasp precisely the law the Torah requires us to do or not do.

(מעינה של תורה)

"המה וכל החיה למינה וכל הבהמה למינה..."
“They and all the animals [were in the ark].” (7:14)

QUESTION: Among the miraculous events of the days of Mashiach that the prophet lists is that, “The wolf will dwell together with the lamb” (Isaiah 11:6). This was also experienced in the days of Noach. What then is special about the days of Mashiach?

ANSWER: In the time of Noach the whole world was in danger of destruction. In such a situation it is natural for enemies to become friends and live together. All had the common goal of survival and there was no time for fighting. In the days of Mashiach there will no longer be any war and there will be an abundance of goodness. Unfortunately, in prosperous and tranquil times, people find time for strife and fighting.

The prophet therefore foretells the miracle that will occur in the days of Mashiach, when everyone will have an abundance of good: even then there will be absolute peace and the wolf and lamb will abide together.

(פרדס יוסף)

שנים שנים באו אל נח
“Two, two, they came to Noach.” (7:9)

QUESTION: There is a Midrash Pli’ah — wondrous Midrash — on this pasuk that says, "אילין יומין דמשלימין בהון הלל" — “These are the days in the year when we recite a full Hallel.” What is the meaning of this seemingly strange Midrash?

ANSWER: At certain times in the year we say a full Hallel, and at other times parts of the Hallel are omitted. The occasions for full Hallel, as noted in many siddurim, may be remembered through the word ".בבטח" This stands for the first two days of Pesach (ב), the two days of Shavuot (ב), the nine days of Succot including Simchat Torah (ט), and the eight days of Chanukah (ח).

Our pasuk is hinting to the above: “Shenayim” — two — days of Pesach, “Shenayim” — two — days of Shavuot. “Ba’u” (באו) has the numerical value of nine, which refers to the nine days of Succot. “El Noach” (אל נח)has the numerical value of 89, which is exactly the same numerical value as the word “Chanukah” (חנוכה). On these days we say the complete Hallel.

(ר' שמשון מאסטראפאלי זצ"ל)

"מכל אשר בחרבה מתו"
“Of all that was on dry land died.” (7:22)

QUESTION: Despite the fact that the flood waters were boiling (Sanhedrin 108b), the fish did not die (Zevachim 113b).

In the merit of what did Hashem keep the fish miraculously alive?

ANSWER: The fish were the first living creatures Hashem created. They were created on the fifth day of creation, even before the birds, who were created on the same day — and certainly before animals and man, who were created on the sixth day. In consideration of this quality they were not destroyed.

* * *

This, incidentally, may also be a reason for our custom to begin our Shabbat meals with fish before we eat meat, for fish were created before fowl and animals.

Furthermore, the Hebrew word for fish is “dag” (דג), which has the numerical value of 7; it is thus an appropriate food for Shabbat — the 7th day of the week.

(פון אונזער אלטען אוצר בשם ר' בונים מפשיסחא זצ"ל)

"וימחו מן הארץ וישאר אך נח ואשר אתו בתבה"
“They were obliterated from the earth. Only Noach and those with him in the ark survived.” (7:23)

QUESTION: How did Og and Sichon survive the flood?

ANSWER: Og was the son of Shemchazel, one of the fallen angels (see Rashi, Bamidbar 13:33) who was exceptionally powerful and tall. According to one opinion, he survived the flood by riding on top of the ark. According to another opinion, his great height allowed him to walk alongside the ark with his head out of the water. Although the waters of the flood were boiling hot, they were miraculously cool around the ark, and Noach gave Og food through the window.

(תרגום יונתן בן עוזיאל י"ד:י"ג, זבחים קי"ג ע"ב, ילקוט מעם לועז)

Before entering the ark, the wife of Cham, Noach’s youngest son, became pregnant with Sichon through a relationship with Schemchazel. Cham brought her into the ark together with him, and there she gave birth to Sichon. Consequently, Sichon and Og were brothers from the same father.

(רבינו בחיי פ' חוקת)

"וישאר אך נח"
“Only Noach survived.” (7:23)

QUESTION: Why is he described here as “only Noach”? What happened to the previous titles the Torah (6:9) gives him — “righteous,” “perfect,” etc.?

ANSWER: The Zohar (Bereishit 67b) says that Noach sinned by not praying that his generation be saved. Unlike Avraham who prayed for the Sodomites (18:23-32), and Moshe (Shemot 32:11-13, 31-32), who was ready to give up his own life if G‑d would not forgive His people, Noach was concerned only that his own family be saved.

Since Noach did not ultimately act as a truly righteous man by concerning himself with others, in the final analysis he was considered “only Noach” — just a simple person shorn of all his titles and praises.

(אוצר חיים)

"ותבא אליו היונה לעת ערב והנה עלה זית טרף בפיה"
“And the dove came back to him in the evening, and behold, there was a plucked olive leaf in her mouth.” (8:11)

QUESTION: Why did the dove wait until nightfall to return to Noach?

ANSWER: Noach observed the Torah rule not to start a journey at sea fewer than three days before Shabbat. Therefore, he entered the ark on Wednesday noon, the 17th of Mar Cheshvan. (See Sefer Tzeror Hamor, and Tur Orach Chaim 248, Beit Yosef.)

The rain lasted for 40 days (counting from 18 Mar Cheshvan because 17 Mar Cheshvan was not a full day). This was followed by 150 days of unabated flood. Sixty days later, the mountain tops appeared above the receding flood-waters, and 40 days later, Noach sent out a raven. Fourteen days later, he sent out the dove a second time.

This was on the 304th day of the flood (40+150+60+40+14= 304), which is equivalent to 43 weeks and 3 days. Since the first real day of the flood was Thursday, day 304 must have been a Shabbat. The dove, not wanting to tear a leaf off a tree on Shabbat, waited until nightfall. When Shabbat was over, she tore off the leaf and brought it to Noach.

(מגדל עוז - יעב"ץ)

"והנה עלה זית טרף בפיה"
“And behold, there was a plucked olive leaf in her mouth.” (8:11)

QUESTION: Why did the dove bring a leaf from an olive tree specifically?

ANSWER: Prior to the flood the inhabitants of the world were very corrupt. Immorality was rampant among humans, and even cattle and fowl consorted with other species. This caused all to lose their unique identities.

An olive produces oil; it cannot mix with any other liquids and floats to the top. The message to Noach was that after the flood, the human race was required to improve its ways. It was forbidden to ever again mix and mingle as it had done previously.

(פון אונזער אלטען אוצר)

"והנה עלה זית טרף בפיה"
“And behold, there was a plucked olive leaf in her mouth.” (8:11)

QUESTION: Why did she bring the leaf and not the olive?

ANSWER: According to the Midrash Rabbah (23:6), the dove flew to the Mount of Olives and brought the leaf from there. From fruit that grows in Eretz Yisrael, one is required to separate ma’aseir (tithe). The dove, not wanting to create any obstacles for Noach, brought him the leaf and not the fruit.

(ילקוט הדרוש - דברי יהונתן)

"ותבא אליו היונה לעת ערב והנה עלה זית טרף בפיה . . . ויחל נח איש האדמה ויטע כרם"
“And the dove came back to him in the evening and, behold, there was a plucked olive leaf in her mouth.... Noach, the man of the earth, debased himself and planted a vineyard.” (8:11, 9:20)

QUESTION: Why did the dove bring a leaf of an olive branch and why did Noach plant a vineyard?

ANSWER: The closing pasuk of Parshat Bereishit is “Noach found favor in the eyes of G‑d.” The first pasuk of Parshat Noach begins with the words, “These are the offspring of Noach.” According to the Midrash Rabbah (29:5), these two pesukim together convey a message that Noach found favor in the eyes of G‑d because of his righteous children. Consequently, it was in their merit that he survived the flood. This concept is mirrored by the olive tree and vine.

In the Beit Hamikdash, wood was used to maintain the fire on the altar. According to halachah (Rambam, Issurei Mizbei’ach 7:3), the wood of olive trees and vines could not be used for this purpose because they produce valuable fruits, and cutting down these trees would be to the detriment of Eretz Yisrael.

By bringing the leaf of an olive tree, whose fruits are more valuable than the tree itself, the dove was indicating that Noach should not be arrogant or conceited about his survival, because it was in his children’s merit and not his own. Noach acknowledged this by planting a vineyard, in which the fruits were more valuable than the trees.

(אוצר חיים בשם תכלת מרדכי)

"ויבן נח מזבח... ויעל עלת במזבח"
“Noach built an altar and offered burnt-offerings on the altar.” (8:20)

QUESTION: According to halachah, in four cases one is obligated to thank Hashem with a Korban Todah — a thanksgiving offering (in our times we “bentsch gomeil”). One of the four cases involves a person who travels across an ocean in a boat (Orach Chaim 219). Why did Noach bring a Korban Olah — a burnt-offering — and not a Korban Todah?

ANSWER: When Noach came out of the ark he was still forbidden to eat meat until Hashem granted him permission. A portion of the Korban Todah has to be eaten by the person who brings it. Therefore, he had no other alternative but to bring a Korban Olah, which is burnt entirely on the altar and not eaten at all.

(אוצר חיים בשם וידבר דוד)

"שפך דם האדם באדם דמו ישפך"
“One who sheds the blood of man in the man, his blood shall be shed.” (9:6)

QUESTION: The word, “ba’adam — “in the man” — seems repetitious and unnecessary?

ANSWER: The Gemara (Bava Metzia 58b) states that if a person publicly embarrasses another, it is as if he spills his blood, because the one who is embarrassed blushes, and blood rushes to his face (as if trying to leave his body). Then his face pales as the blood drains to other parts of the body, and it takes on the ashen, pallid appearance of a corpse. The difference between actual murder and embarrassment is that in murder, blood actually leaves the body, whereas in embarrassment, the blood changes location within the body.

In this pasuk, the Torah teaches us two things:

1) If one “sheds the blood of man” — by actually killing him — “his blood shall be shed.”

2) Even if one sheds the blood, “ba’adam”“in the man” — by embarrassing him and causing him to blush and become pallid, “his blood shall be shed,” for he has committed a mortal sin.


"וירא חם אבי כנען את ערות אביו ויגד לשני אחיו בחוץ"
“Cham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness and he told it to his two brothers outside.” (9:22)

QUESTION: The Midrash Rabbah (35:5) states: “Due to this incident of seeing and telling, a non-Jewish slave is freed when his master knocks out his tooth or eye.” What is the connection between these two occurrences?

ANSWER: Noach was very upset with his son’s irresponsible behavior. For looking at things he shouldn’t have and telling about a shameful occurrence to others, Noach cursed him that he and his descendants would be slaves to their brethren (9:25).

One who buys a non-Jewish slave acquires him forever. However, if the master knocks out his tooth or his eye, he becomes free (Shemot 21:27). The reason for this is that the slavery resulted from using an eye in an improper manner and using teeth to talk improperly. Thus, once the slave is missing the tooth or the eye, it is as though he has received his punishment and no longer needs to be a slave.

(ילקוט האורים)

"וימצאו בקעה בארץ שנער וישבו שם"
“And they found a valley in the land of Shinar and they settled there.” (11:2)

QUESTION: Why did all the people of the world want to cram into one small valley?

ANSWER: After the flood, Hashem promised that He would never again destroy the world in such a manner. However, according to the Gemara (Sotah 11a), this promise only meant that He would not destroy the entire world through a flood, but not that He would refrain from bringing a flood on one nation or a group of people.

In order to outsmart Hashem, the people decided the following: If they were to spread out and live in different parts of the world, then one day Hashem could bring a flood and destroy a particular group. Therefore, they all decided to live together in one place so that Hashem would be forced to keep His promise and not bring a flood which would destroy all of them at one time.

(ילקוט האורים)

"ויאמרו הבה נבנה לנו עיר ומגדל וראשו בשמים"
“And they said ‘Let us build for ourselves a city and tower with its top in the heavens.’” (11:4)

QUESTION: Rashi explains that they planned to “wage war against G‑d.” But how did they think they could reach the heavens?

ANSWER: Rabbi Yehonatan Eibeschutz (1690-1764), renowned Torah scholar, and Rabbi of Prague and Hamburg, answers that they were aware of the laws of gravity. Their plan was to build a tower so high that its top would be beyond the earth’s gravitational pull. They could then ascend to the top of the tower where they would become weightless, enabling them to fly up into the heavens where they imagined they could confront Hashem! (Evidently Newton’s Law of Gravity and the space program have been in the Torah for thousands of years. This gives credence to the adage “everything is hidden somewhere in the Torah” — see Ta’anit 9a.)

(פון אונזער אלטען אוצר - תפארת יהונתן)

"שם אשת אברם שרי ושם אשת נחור מלכה בת הרן אבי מלכה ואבי יסכה"
“The name of Avram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nachar’s wife was Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah and the father of Yiscah.” (11:29)

QUESTION: Rashi comments that Yiscah was Sarah and she was called Yiscah because she was a prophetess and saw [the future] with the Divine inspiration. What commonality is there between these two names?

ANSWER: In addition to the regular Hebrew alef-beit, there is a letter substitution system known as “at, bash.” In it the alef interchanges with the tav,” the “beit” with the shin,” the gimmel with the reish,” and so on. Accordingly, the letters of the name “Sarah” (שרה) interchange with the letters beit, gimmel and tzaddik, which have the numerical value of ninety-five, which is also the numerical value of the name “Yiscah” (יסכה).

(בעל הטורים)

Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky has been a pulpit rabbi for over thirty years, and is author of more than ten highly acclaimed books on the Parshiot and holidays. His Parshah series, Vedibarta Bam, can be purchased here.
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David Kolnick Port Elizabeth, S Africa October 26, 2011

VAYIGVA Vayigva is mentioned in relation to the flood.
Vayigva Veyamat is mentioned with the death of Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac. Vayigva is mentioned with the death of Jacob (no veyamat). Translated as he expired, took his last breath or exhaled his last breath.
Vayigva is not mentioned with the passing of other biblical people.
Why is VAYIGVA thus mentioned with the flood ( bad people drowning) ? i.e in a bad context. However with the passing of the above 4 who were promised by Hashem to be leaders of great nations and who lived long lives, is VAYIGVA utilised in a good context? Reply

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