Vol. 9 No. 2
This issue is co-sponsored l'iluy Nishmas
Eliyahu ben Reb Yehudah Menachem z.l.
whose Yohrzeit is on the 4th Mar-Cheshvan
and by an anonymous sponsor
who wishes all the sick and wounded in Yisrael a Refu'ah Sh'leimah
That's What Rebbi Yitzchak Said
We already cited the K'li Yakar, who maintains that, at the end of the day, the Torah needed to begin with "Bereishis", to convey the vital message of the Creation.
The Ramban however, disagrees. Initially, he poses this as a question on Rebbi Yitzchak. How can Rebbi Yitzchak even suggest dispensing with the Torah's description of the Creation, he asks, when we know that someone who believes in evolution is branded an Apikorus, a denier of G-d and of His Torah? Surely then, it was necessary to begin the Torah with the Creation in order to teach us this important concept?
But he refutes the question on the grounds that the Torah's description of the Creation and the subsequent Parshiyos dealing with Adam and Chavah and their sin are in any case so vague, that it is only really through tradition that one understands anything of them at all. Consequently, he concludes, the Torah could just as well have dispensed with those sections. And as far as the important lesson of the Creation is concerned, it could have relied on the Aseres ha'Dibros, where the Pasuk writes " ... because in six days Hashem created the Heaven and the earth, and on the seventh day, He rested". That Pasuk would have sufficed to convey the teaching of the Creation and to discount the theory of evolution.
As for the Parshiyos that follow the Creation, the episodes of the Great Flood and the Tower of Bavel, these do not appear in any case, to be of any great significance, in which case they too, could have been omitted. (Incidentally, the Ramban speaks about omitting all these Parshiyos entirely, and not about deferring them to the end of the Torah, as the K'li Yakar assumes to be the only other alternative). All of these details, he maintains, could effectively have been handed down to Moshe at Sinai, to be transmitted orally to those who needed to know them.
Consequently, Rebbi Yitzchak informs us that the Torah inserted all these Parshiyos with very good reason, says the Ramban. First it describes how G-d created man as the final creation, settling him in the choice of all locations, Gan Eden, and how He placed all other creations under his jurisdiction. Then it explains how he sinned and was driven out of Gan Eden for that sin. It describes how his descendents were destroyed for their pervert ways, and how only No'ach the Tzadik was saved together with his children. And it describes again how their descendents sinned again and were scattered all over the globe, where the various families inherited different parts of the world and developed into nations.
Having taught us all this, it follows naturally that if one of those nations follows in the pervert ways of its ancestors, it too, can expect to be driven out of its country, for another nation to take its place. This is merely a continuation of the plan of action that G-d initiated and practiced since He created the world.
And if this is true of any nation in any country, says the Ramban, it is certainly true of the accursed slave, Cana'an, who to begin with, was unworthy to inherit the most prestigious of all the countries in the world. That was a privilege reserved for G-d's servants, the children of His beloved Avraham, who were later destined to inherit what was rightfully theirs. Indeed, as Chazal extrapolate from the word "Bereishis", the world was created for them in the first place.
It is interesting that many aspects of Emunah emerge from these Parshiyos, too - the existence of G-d, His knowledge of what happens in the world, Hashgachah K'lalis and P'ratis (His general supervision of the world and of individuals), and reward and punishment. Yet, notwithstanding the importance of Emunah and its indispensability, it does not seem to justify beginning the Torah with "Bereishis" (refer to part one, para. beginning 'Rebbi Yitzchak').
Our right to Eretz Yisrael does!
(adapted from the Ba'al ha'Turim)
A Fresh Start
"And these are the generations of No'ach ... " (6:9).
The expression " ... these are the generations of ... " occurs four times in the Chumash. Besides the one here, we also find "And these are the generations of the Heaven and of the earth" ., ".. of Shem" " ... and of Ya'akov".
Each of these, the Ba'al ha'Turim explains, comes to disqualify what precedes them (in the Pasuk). "The generations of the Heaven and of the earth" disqualifies the null and void that existed before, "the generations of No'ach" disqualifies the generations that preceded him, "the generations of Shem" disqualifies those of Cham and of Ya'fes, and "the generations of Ya'akov" disqualifies Eisav and his princes.
No'ach, No'ach, No'ach
The word "No'ach" appears three times in the first Pasuk in the Parshah, observes the Ba'al ha'Turim, to hint that No'ach saw three worlds. He saw the world before the flood, he saw it destroyed during the flood, and he saw a new world begin afresh after the flood.
Alternatively, he explains, it is because No'ach was one of three who saved three people. He saved his three sons, Shem, Cham and Yefes; Daniel saved Chananyah, Mishael and Azaryah (by means of a dream); and Iyov saved his three friends, Elifaz ha'Teimani, Bildad ha'Shuchi and Tzofer ha'Na'amasi.
It is not clear however, why Yehudah, who saved three (Tamar and her two sons - see Rashi, Bereishis 38:25) is omitted from this list.
Maybe it is because two out of the three were not yet born.
And another alternative, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, is that he was No'ach (which also means 'pleasant') to G-d and to people, pleasant to the upper worlds and to the lower worlds, pleasant in this world and in the next.
Robbery and Corruption
"And the land was full of robbery" (6:11).
A similar expression occurs in Sh'mos (1:7) " ... and the land was full of them".
The Ba'al ha'Turim explains the connection like this: The Medrash describes how, to escape the terrible decree that all Jewish babies were to be drowned, the Jewish women would give birth in the fields to six babies at a time. Then, the earth would open and swallow them up. Later, after the Egyptians had tried unsuccessfully to kill them, the babies would sprout up from the field like grass. Here too, the robberies would take place inside the earth. How is that?
A man would deposit a purse full of gold coins with his friend, but the purse also contained powerful-smelling balsam-spice. The trustee would place the purse in his underground treasury for safe-keeping. In the night however, the owner of the purse would sneak into the trustee's property, and by means of the smell of his balsam, he would easily detect the location of the his treasury, which he would duly empty of all its contents.
190 Spells the End
"And G-d said to No'ach, the end of all flesh has come before Me" (6:13).
The word denoting 'the end' is "Ketz", whose numerical value is a hundred and ninety.
This hints, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, to the destruction period of the flood, which descended for forty days, and continued to rise for another hundred and fifty - a total of a hundred and ninety days.
Cutting them Down to Size
"Hin'ni Mashchisam Es Ha'aretz" ('I will destroy them with the land') 6:13.
The first letters of the words "Mashchisam Es Ha'aretz" spell 'Me'ah' (a hundred). After Adam sinned, the Medrash teaches us, G-d diminished his size. He had created him from the earth to the heaven, and he cut him down to a hundred Amos.
Following the sin of the Generation of the Flood, He cut man down again, from a hundred Amos to the size that we are now (and this is what the Torah hints at in these words).
They Traveled Like a Box
" ... u'Shelishim ta'asehah" (6:16).
There are two opinions as to how Yisrael traveled in the desert; whether they walked in a long line, one tribe behind the other, or like a square box, in the same formation as they encamped.
The Torah hints at the latter explanation here, because the only other place where this word is found is in Parshas Bamidbar (2:24) "u'Shelishim yiso'u".
The hint is particularly powerful, since the Torah describes No'ach's ark as 'a Teivah', and Chazal describe the formation in question as 'ke'Teivah perutzah' (like an open box).
An Impossible Task
Building the Teivah was an inconceivable task, one that No'ach could not possibly have achieved without Divine assistance. That, explains the Ba'al ha'Turim, is why the word after "ta'asehah" ('you shall construct it') 6:16 is "va'Ani" ('And I ... '), as if G-d was informing No'ach that He would build the Teivah together with him.
Too Much Goodness
"And I will blot out all living creatures that I made" (7:4).
This expression appears again later (in Pasuk 23 )"And He blotted out all living creatures". And the Torah uses the same word in Eikev, when, in connection with the earth swallowing up Korach and all that was his, it writes "and all living creatures that belonged to them".
What Korach and the Generation of the Flood had in common, the Ba'al ha'Turim explains, is that both of them sinned because of their immense wealth. As the Torah warns in Eikev, riches easily goes to one's head, makes one conceited, and causes him to forget G-d.
Two Stars from Kiymah
"va'Arubos ha'Shamayim Niftachu" ('and the skylights of the Heaven were opened') 7:11.
The numerical value of "va'Arubos ha'Shamayim" is equivalent to that of 'she'lokach sh'nei kochavim mi'Kiymah'. This conforms with Chazal, who say that G-d took two stars from the constelation Kiymah to produce the gap through which the flood-water flowed.
Thou Mighty Plank
"And the ark came to rest ... on the mountains of Ararat" (8:4).
'Ararat' appears again in T'nach, in connection with the sons of Sancheiriv. After the downfall of his army and his return to Ninvei, Sancheiriv went to bow down in the temple of Nisroch his god. As he was doing this, his two sons murdered him and escaped to the land of Ararat.
What does that have to do with No'ach's Teivah, you may ask?
The Ba'al ha'Turim answers this with another Chazal, who say that Sancheiriv's god comprised a plank from No'ach's Teivah, which he claimed, was the god that saved No'ach from the Great Flood. Indeed, the root of "Nisroch" is 'Neser', which means 'a plank'.
Long Live the Raven
"And ... the raven flew around until the water dried up from the land" (8:7).
The word for 'dried up' is "yevoshes", whose numerical value is equivalent to that of 'Nachal K'ris', which is the valley where Eliyahu hid from Achav and Izevel on G-d's orders. How did he survive?
Hakadosh Baruch Hu said to No'ach's raven 'You are prepared for another errand in the days of Eliyahu', the Ba'al ha'Turim quotes a Chazal as saying. Indeed, the Navi writes there that it was the ravens that brought Eliyahu food and drink.
Now if it was the same raven that G-d informed was destined to feed Eliyahu, then it certainly lived a long time (seeing as Eliyahu lived some fifteen hundred years after the Flood). It is more likely though, that G-d was not promising the (not-so-pious) raven long life, but informing it that its species had been chosen to carry out this particular errand in years to come.
Incidently, the letters of "yevoshes" also spell 'Tishbi' (one of Eliyahu's names).
THE DINIM OF BIY'UR
(OF SH'MITAH PRODUCE)
(adapted from the Chochmas Adam)
1. Sh'mitah-fruit may only be eaten as long as some of that particular species remains in the fields, as the Torah writes in Behar "And for your animals and your wild beasts ... ". This implies that as long as the wild beasts are eating from the field, you may eat from your stocks in the house. Once nothing remains in the field for the wild-beasts, you are obligated to clear out your stocks from the house.
2. Consequently, someone who has stocks of dried-figs in his house may continue to eat from them as long as there are figs on the trees. The moment however, nothing remains in the field, he is forbidden to eat from the stocks in the house, but must clear them out.
3. If he has a lot of fruit in the house when the time of Biy'ur falls due, he should distribute sufficient for three meals to each family member. After the Biy'ur, the prohibition to eat the fruit extends both to the owner and to others, both to the rich and to the poor. Should the owner not find anyone to whom to distribute his stocks, he is obligated to burn it or to throw it into the sea.
4. This is the opinion of the early Poskim. However, in case of emergency, or in the case of a poor man, it is not necessary to destroy the fruit. It is sufficient to relinquish his ownership by declaring it Hefker (ownerless) in front of three friends, after which he may take it back into his possession (and this is the interpretation of Biy'ur that is prevalent today).
5. Kedushas Shevi'is pertains equally to fruit that grew in one's field and to fruit that one buys from a gentile, because a gentile cannot acquire a part of Eretz Yisrael. Consequently, it is as if the produce grew in a Jewish field. Nevertheless, one may purchase Sh'mitah-produce from him even after the time of Biy'ur, seeing as gentiles are not subject to the Mitzvah of Biy'ur. The moment however, that one buys the produce from him, the Mitzvah of Biy'ur takes effect, and the fruit must be treated accordingly. And the same Din applies to a Jew who for some reason, was unable to perform Biy'ur with his Sh'mitah-fruit or to declare it Hefker. (Note, that the above Halachah regarding the fruit of a gentile is based on the opinion to which the Chazon Ish too, subscribes. According to others, a gentile can indeed acquire a part of Eretz Yisrael, in which case, there is no Kedushas She'vi'is on the Sh'mitah-fruit of a gentile, and this is generally accepted as Minhag Yerushalayim).
If however, a Jew deliberately retains his stocks in order to eat them, without fulfilling the Mitzvah of Biy'ur, they may no longer be eaten.
6. If someone has raisins of Sh'mitah when the grape season comes to an end, and nothing remains in the fields, the vineyards or the orchards that were declared Hefker, one is obliged to perform Biy'ur on them (even though there are still grapes on the trees in the courtyards). The reason for this is because the fruit in the courtyard is not available to the wild animals. However, should there be any grapes left on any trees in places that are Hefker, he may continue to eat the fruit in the house, despite the fact that the grapes on the trees are still hard, and will not be ready to eat until the end of the year.
7. A man who owns a tree that yields two produces annually, and who has in his house some fruit from the first harvest, may continue to eat as long as fruit from the second harvest remains on the trees, because it is considered the same species. He may not however, eat from the regular harvest relying on the fruits that grow in winter, at the end of the season (since they are considered the crops of a different year).
8. One may eat dried figs until Chanukah (of the eighth year), dates until Purim (which coincides with when the last dates in Tzo'ar are finished from the trees), grapes (and wine) until Pesach, and olives (and olive oil) until She'vu'os. All other fruit may be eaten until nothing remains of that species on any of the trees in the three lands (Yehudah, Eiver ha'Yarden, and the Galil). However, the exact date of Bit'ur is unknown. Some Poskim therefore require that one declares the fruit Hefker each day, from the moment the Safek occurs, until he is certain that the Safek no longer exists. Others however, due to the impracticality that this entails, make do with only one declaration of Hefker on the day that the Safek occurs. One must however, announce in front of those who witness the Hefker, that the fruit remains Hefker even after he has taken it into his house, and that anybody may help himself to it. (From the seifer "Dinei Sh'mitah bi'Z'man ha'Zeh")
9. Someone who takes Sh'mitah fruits from a location where they have finished in the fields to one where they have not, or vice-versa, is obligated to perform Biy'ur. This follows the principle that a person must adhere to the stringency of the place that he came from and that of the town that he arrives at.
Sh'mitah-fruit of Eretz Yisrael that have been taken to Chutz la'Aretz require Biy'ur there where they are. They may not be transported from one place to another. It seems to me (says the Chochmas Adam) that it is not necessary to return them to Eretz Yisrael.
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