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

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Vol. 11   No. 2

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Parshas No'ach

The Noahide Code

The seven Mitzvos of the No'ahide code are something of a misnomer. The Gemara in Sanhedrin (56b) cites the source as the Pasuk in Bereishis, in which G-d spoke, not to No'ach, but to Adam "And G-d commanded Adam saying, from all the trees of the garden you may eat". In that case, says the Torah Temimah, the seven Mitzvos are ascribed to the children of No'ach, not because the Mitzvos were given to their father No'ach, but because they comprised the seventy nations of the world.


The Mitzvos of the No'ahide Code comprise avodah-zarah, giluy arayos and shefichus damim (the three cardinal sins), Eiver min ha'chai, Birkas Hashem, Gezel and Dinim (idolatry, adultery, murder, eating the limb of a live animal, cursing G-d, stealing and instituting a system of law of and order). And this is how Chazal extrapolate them from the above-mentioned Pasuk -

"Va'yetzav" = Dinim (because so the Torah writes in Vayeira "ki yeda'ativ, lama'an asher yetzaveh es banav ... la'asos tzedakah u'mishpat";
"Hashem" = zu birkas Hashem (as the Torah writes "ve'nokeiv Sheim Hashem Mos yumas"); "Elokim = zeh avodah-zarah (as the Torah writes "Lo yih'yeh lecho elohim acheirim ... ");
"al ha'adam" = zeh shefichus damim (as the Torah writes "Shofech dam ha'adam");
"leimor" = zeh giluy arayos (as the Torah writes "leimor, hein yeshalach ish es ishto");
"mi'kol eitz ha'gan" (but not gezel);
"Ochol tochel" (but not eiver min ha'chai).


This Pasuk is clearly not coming to teach us the Mitzvos of the No'ahide Code, comments the Torah Temimah. They are undoubtedly a tradition handed down 'Halachah le'Moshe mi'Sinai', and the Pasuk is no more than an 'Asmachta' (a support from the Pasuk, without being the actual source).

The prohibition of eating Eiver min ha'Chai suggests that, on principle, Adam ha'Rishon was permitted to eat meat. To reconcile this with the Gemara later, which states that he was not, Tosfos establishes the latter Gemara with regard to killing an animal in order to eat it. Adam was not prohibited, they say, from eating an animal that died by itself or that was killed by another animal; he was though, from eating a limb that 'died' (that fell off or that was torn off) during the animal's life-time.


The Rambam adds the prohibition of interbreeding animals and that of grafting, which do not belong in the above list because they are not subject to the death-penalty, and the principle 'their warning is automatically their death-warrant' (which applies to the seven) does not apply to them . In fact, they are listed in a seperate B'raysa, and the Ridvaz already asks why the Rambam then omits the prohibitions of castrating and of black magic, which are listed there too. The Gemara (98b) also includes the mitzvah of working seven days, which is not included in the seven, since they are all La'avin (negative commands), whereas this is an Asei (a positive Mitzvah). The Gemara itself asks on this from Dinim, which appears to be an Asei. It replies that Dinim incorporates an Asei and a 'Lo Sa'aseh' (to perform justice and not to perform injustice [Rashi]).

And Rebbi Yochanan there also includes the prohibition of learning Torah, and goes on to explain that it is not counted as the eighth Mitzvah, because it is already included, either in Gezel (because Torah was given to us exclusively) or in adultery (since Torah is described as our betrothed).


The one Mitzvah that was said to No'ach and not to Adam was that of "P'ru u'Revu" (the Mitzvah to procreate and have children). It was said to Adam (1:28 and to No'ach 9:1) as a B'rachah, but repeated to No'ach in the form a Mitzvah (9:7). One may well think that it is not counted among the seven because it is a Mitzvas Asei. But this is not the case. It was commanded to No'ach, presumably because the numbers of people in the world had become so drastically depleted, but it is not included as a Mitzvah of the No'ahide code. This is because of the principle 'Any Mitzvah that was said to the B'nei No'ach, but not repeated at Sinai, was said to Yisrael and not to the B'nei No'ach', as the Gemara explains in Sanhedrin (59a/b).


The Gemara's source for Dinim is from the word "va'yetzav", which it links to the Pasuk in Vayeira, where the Torah records how G-d chose Avraham, because he would command his children to do charity and justice (as we cited earlier), the latter being a clear reference to Dinim. The Maharsha explains why the Gemara ignores the reference to "Tzedakah", in which case it ought to have listed Tzedakah among the Mitzvos. He cites Rashi, who interprets "tzedakah u'mishpat" as 'justice and compromise' (not as 'charity and justice'). He does suggest however, that according to the Gemara's conclusion, which explains that Mitzvos Asei are not included in the list, as we explained, it may well be that Tzedakah is indeed included, no less than working seven days a week (see Mitzpeh Eisan).

The Torah Temimah asks why, according to the Ramban, who defines Dinim, as keeping the monetary laws as described in Mishpatim, the Torah finds it necessary to list Gezel separately; why it will not suffice to write Dinim, in which Gezel seems to be already incorporated. See what he answers (Bereishis 2:16, no. 28. dh 've'tzarich biy'ur').


And he also observes that although the B'nei No'ach are subject to Birkas Hashem, which he describes as a branch of Chilul Hashem, they are not included in the Mitzvah of Kidush Hashem, which is confined to K'lal Yisrael, as the Gemara states in Sanhedrin (73b). The Yerushalmi, he says, cites as the source, the Pasuk in Emor "ve'nikdashti be'Soch B'nei Yisrael". Furthermore, the Toras Kohanim quotes the Pasuk there which gives the reason for the Mitzvah of Kidush Hashem as "because I am Hashem who sanctifies you, who brought you out from the land of Egypt". If sanctifying G-d's Name was a condition of the Exodus, then it stands to reason that, not being partners in the Exodus, the B'nei No'ach are not subject to the Mitzvah of Kidush Hashem, either.


The Torah Temimah also stresses how important it is for us to know clearly, even nowadays, the Mitzvos that the B'nei No'ach are obligated to observe, because we, for our part, are obligated to avoid causing them to sin, in order not to transgress the La'av of "Lifnei iver lo sitein michshol".

Whether or not, when the Sanhedrin functions, they are duty-bound to punish the gentiles who transgress the seven Mitzvos, is subject to a Machlokes between the Rambam and the Ramban, which we discussed in the main article in Parshas Vayishlach, vol. 8.


Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Commentary of the Rosh)

Three Times

No'ach's name occurs three times in the first Pasuk in the Parshah. This corresponds to a number of things, explains the Rosh. It corresponds to the three Midos mentioned there 'Tzadik', 'Tomim' and 'his'halech No'ach'.

It also corresponds to his three sons and to the three worlds that he witnessed; built, destroyed and built.

Similarly, Daniel saw the Beis-Hamikdash built, destroyed and built again. And Iyov too, saw his house built, destroyed and built once more. That explains why Yechezkel names them all in one Pasuk.

In similar fashion, whenever the Torah uses the word "Ve'hoyoh" (as it does here), it refers to someone who saw a new world and sustained it. That is why the Torah uses this expression here and in connection with Moshe, Yosef and Iyov.


One's Major Offspring

When a person leaves this world without children, says the Medrash Tanchuma, he is troubled and he cries. But G-d consoles him, reminding him that the Torah that he studied which is called 'the Tree of Life', is his off-spring. That is why the Pasuk in Mishlei writes "the fruit (off-spring) of a Tzadik is the Tree of Life".

Here too, the Torah writes "These are the generations of No'ach", and it continues - "No'ach was a righteous man". Our Rabbis have said that No'ach did not die before seeing the whole world rebuilt, and seventy nations emerging from his children, yet when listing his descendants, the Torah records only that he was a Tzadik.


The Choice is Your's

"You shall make a light (Tzohar) for the boat" (6:16).

'Some say that this comprised a window; others say it was a precious stone' (Rashi).

The numerical value of the word 'Tzohar', says the Rosh, is equivalent to that of 'le'or ho'even' (by the light of a [precious] stone).

But it is also equivalent to 'Or chalon' (the light of a window).

The choice is your's!


When Did the Flood Begin?

"And the flood was on the earth for forty days" (7:12).

The first day (the seventeenth of Mar-Cheshvan, was not included). Consequently, the forty days concluded on the twenty-eighth of Kislev, and not on the twenty-seventh (Rashi).

Not so, says the Rosh, quoting Rashi himself (8:3) who explains how the hundred and fifty days until the water began to subside began on the twenty-eighth of Kislev, because the flood ceased on the twenty-seventh. And that is indeed what the Seider Olam says.


When Did No'ach Send the Dove

"And it was at the end of forty days ... and he sent the raven" (8:6/7).

This refers, says Rashi, to forty days after the mountaintops became visible (mentioned in the previous Pasuk), on Rosh Chodesh Av.


If that is so, the Rosh observes, it means that No'ach sent the dove forty-seven days after the mountain tops had become visible. Why is it, he then asks, that the dove could find nowhere to rest? Why could it not rest on the mountains?


He therefore prefers the explanation of Rabeinu Tam, who explains that the 'forty days' goes back in time to when the water began to subside in Sivan. And the table of dates runs as follows -

17 Mar-Cheshvan - the flood begins.

27 Kislev - The water stops falling.

1 Sivan (150 days later) - The water begins to subside.

17 Sivan (the seventh month after the rain stopped falling) - The Teivah rests on Mount Ararat.

10 Tamuz (forty days after the water begins to subside) - No'ach sends the raven

17 Tamuz - He sends the dove for the first time.

Incidentally, says the Rosh, this is a hint that the destruction of the Beis-Hamikdash would later begin on that date, with the breaching of the walls of Yerushalayim. Because it is from that time that Yisrael, who are called a dove, found no rest (as the Pasuk foretells here)

24 Tamuz - He sends the dove for the second time (and it returns with an olive-leaf).

1 Av (the tenth month after the flood began) - No'ach sends the dove for the third time. It does not return. Also the the mountaintops appear (sixty days after the water began to subside).

(10 Ellul [forty days after the tops of the mountains appeared] - No'ach sends the raven, according to the opinion of Rashi).

1 Tishri - The water has drained from the land (sixty days after the tops of the mountains).

27 Mar-Cheshvan - the earth is completely dry once more.


Olive-trees and Vines

If, as the fresh olive-leaf that the dove brought back suggests, there were trees on the mountains, some of which would have been visible before the mountain-tops were, why, asks the Rosh, does the Torah not mention when they became visible, like it did, the mountain-tops?

And he cites Rashi, who explains that No'ach took vines into the boat, in which case the vines and presumably other trees, were all destroyed in the flood

Why he asks, were the olive-trees then spared?

It cannot be due to the fact that they produce oil for the Menorah, because then by the same token, the vines should have been spared, since they produce wine for the Nesachim.

To resolve the apparent discrepancy, the Rosh draws a distinction between vines and olive-trees. The former, he says, did not need to be saved, since there was no problem with taking vine- branches, which keep a long time, into the boat. Not so olive-branches, which go off and which would not have survived a full year in the boat. So G-d performed a miracle, allowing at least one olive-tree to survive the flood, to enable the species to survive.

And because of one tree, he concludes, the Torah did not deem fit to inform us when it first appeared.


A Nice Fresh Leaf

"And behold a torn (torof) olive-leaf in his mouth" (8:11).

What indication was the olive-leaf that the flood-waters had subsided? How did No'ach know that the bird had not found it floating on the water, as leaves tend to do?

The answer, says the Rosh, lies in the word "torof" which implies a fresh leaf torn from the tree on which it grew. Indeed, he points out, Chazal use the expression 'toref ve'ochel' (Pesachim 49b), meaning that a wild beast or a bird of prey eats its prey whilst it is still alive.

And if the dove plucked the leaf from the tree, it was a sure sign that the water had begun to subside, and that dry land was already visible.


The Pig, the Kid-goat, the Monkey and the Lamb

"And No'ach began to till the land, and he planted a vineyard" (9:20).

The Medrash relates how the Satan approached No'ach, and asked to be a sharecropper in the vineyard. What did he do?

He brought a pig, a kid-goat, a monkey and a lamb.

What the Medrash means, explains the Rosh, is that someone who drinks wine (strong wine, not like most of our wine which is extremely weak) is inevitably compared to one of these four. If he drinks excessively, he behaves like a pig, who filthies himself in the dirt; If he drinks just a little, he prances around on the mountains like a kid-goat; Should he drink a little more, then he behaves foolishly, like a monkey; whereas if he drinks wine with his meal, he remains as meek as a lamb.


The Amidah

(based mainly on the Siddur "Otzar ha'Tefillos")

Yehi Rotzon ... she'Yiboneh Beis Hamikdash

The Eitz Yosef gives a further reason for making this request here, immediately after taking three steps backwards. He cites the Medrash that Nevuchadnetzar (when he was court scribe of Merodach B'laden, King of Bavel) took three steps in pursuit of the messenger carrying the letter to Chizkiyahu, in which greetings to Chizkiyahu preceded those to Hashem (see Tish'ah be'Av Supplement, Parshas Devarim 'Nevuchadnetar, king of Bavel', for details). As a reward for this act of reverence, he was granted the sovereignty , incorporating the right to ultimately destroy the Beis-Hamikdash.

Consequently, we take three steps in honor of Hashem, requesting from G-d that if the three steps taken by that Rasha in honor of Hashem, resulted in the destruction of the Beis-Hamikdash, then may the three steps that we are taking in His honor, result in its rebuilding. In addition, bearing in mind that we opened the Amidah with the merit of the three Avos, as we explained there, we take three steps back, to hint that just as our Tefilos are answered on their merit, so too, can we expect the Beis-Hamikdash to be rebuilt in their honour.


The Three Steps

Here are six additional reasons cited by the Sidur 'Iyun Tefilah', as to why we take three steps back at the end of the Amidah:

1. Like a slave taking leave of his master.

2. Corresponding to the three Milin that a K'lal Yisrael, imbued with the fear of G-d, moved away from Har Sinai (when they heard the Voice of G-d.

3. Because, as the Medrash relates, Moshe Rabeinu entered three clouds known as 'Choshech, Anan and Arafel' when he ascended Har Sinai. Therefore when he descended, that is what he had to exit.

4. When a person Davens the Amidah, he stands in a location of Kedushah, with the Shechinah standing above his head. Therefore when he takes leave, he needs to take three steps to re-enter the world of Chol (Kedushah, transition Chol). Shivlei Leket quoting the Ge'onim.

5. Because the order of Tefilos was instituted to replace the Korbanos. When the Kohen, holding the limbs of the Korban Tamid, would ascend the ramp on his way to the Mizbei'ach, he would ascend on the right of the ramp and descend on the left. There, he encountered three stone slabs between the ramp and the Mizbei'ach, on which he would take three steps as he began his descent from the Mizbei'ach (Rav Hai Ga'on).

6. Corresponding to the angels, about whom it is written "ve'ragleihem regel yeshoroh" (and their legs are a straight leg - 'ragleihem' means two legs, plus 'regel'[one leg], makes three). Some say the total is six, because the Pasuk continues "ve'kaf ragleihem ke'kaf regel eigel"(and the sole of their feet, is like the sole of the leg of a calf). Now even though we do not find six steps mentioned anywhere, some explain that it is not called a 'footstep' until one has moved both legs. Others, that after taking three steps back, one retraces them. Incidentally, the reason that people do not let others walk in front of them before they have moved back three steps is because the six steps have not been completed.

However, to return to one's place, to prevent this from happening, before the required waiting-time has elapsed, is incorrect. In any event, he should not worry about the interruption between himself and the Shechinah, for Chazal have already said 'even an iron wall cannot divide between him and the Shechinah'.

ve'Sein Chelkeinu be'Sorosecha ... ve'Shom Na'avodcha be'Yir'ah

The Eitz Yosef (at the end of 'Rebbi Yishmael Omer') comments on the sequence of Beis-Hamikdash and Torah. When we are in Galus, and there is no Beis-Hamikdash, there is no Torah either (as the Pasuk in Eichah, 2:9, states). Indeed, says the G'ro, Yeshayah prophesied about the time of the redemption "and the earth will be full of the knowledge of Hashem, like the water covers the ocean-bed". And we conclude, he adds 'and there we will serve you with fear', because from the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos 'where there is no Torah there is no fear of G-d', we can infer that Torah is conducive to the fear of G-d'.

Yeshayah (2:3) too, said that "Torah will emanate from Tziy'on and the word of Hashem from Yerushalayim".

How appropriate therefore to Daven for the rebuilding of the Beis-Hamikdash, so that our level of Torah-learning will reach its fullest potential.

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