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

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Vol. 18   No. 2

This issue is sponsored
l'iluy Nishmas
Leah Baila bas Aryeh Leib z"l

Parshas No'ach

Shem's Reward

"And Shem and Yefes took the garment and they covered their father's nakedness" (9:23).

Rashi explains that because Shem exerted himself more than Yefes, his descendents merited a garment of Tzitzis. Yefes received his reward, Chazal explain, in the form of burial. And this is why Yisrael will bury the corpses of Gog and Magog (descendents of Yefes) after the final battle before Mashi'ach.


Citing R. Tam from Orleans, the Riva queries Rashi from the Gemara in Sotah, which explains that Avraham's children merited the Mitzvah of Tzitzis on account of Avraham, who said to the King of S'dom (Lech-L'cha 14:23) "If (I will take) a thread from you" and not because of what Shem did?

And he cites R. Elyakim, who answers that Rashi is referring (not to a garment with Tzitzis, but) a garment made of nice threads.

As proof of this he points to Rashi himself, who said that they merited 'a garment of Tzitzis'. Had he meant the Mitzvah of Tzitzis, he would have said simply 'Tzitzis'.

And a further proof lies in the Medrash, which describes how G-d told Shem that He would reward him for covering his father by saving Chananyah, Misha'el and Azaryah from the furnace into which Nevuchadnetzar had cast them, and it refers to the special clothes that they were wearing - with no mention of Tzitzis.


In answer to the initial Kashya, others explain that the reward of the garment of Tzitzis was destined to go to one of the two sons of No'ach who covered him, though which of the two was left in abeyance. And it was only after Avraham said to the King of S'dom "If (I will take) a thread from you" that Shem was designated as the worthy recipient.

This answer however, is extremely difficult to understand, since 'there is no such thing as 'doubt' before G-d!'; If Shem merited the Mitzvah, then why did it need Avraham Avinu to determine his reward? Whereas if Yefes merited it, how could Avraham Avinu deprive him of it? If on the other hand, both were worthy of the reward, then why should they not both receive it?


The K'li Yakar asks the same question as the Riva in the name of the Ra'm, who dismisses the Kashya on the grounds that we are dealing here with two different rewards. For covering his father, Shem's descendents merited clothes, whereas for the "mi'Chut ve'ad s'roch na'al" of Avraham they merited the Mitzvah of Tzitzis. After all, he explains, before a person has a garment he cannot wear Tzitzis. And he refers to the well-known Medrash Tanchuma, which, commenting on the Pasuk in Iyov (41:3) "Whoever anticipated Me that I need to pay him back?" continues - 'Did anybody ever attatch Tzitzis before I gave him the garment on to which to attach them?'


Incidentally, in the Medrash on the Pasuk in Lech-L'cha cited by R. Bachye, Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu said to Avraham "Because You said 'If (I will take) a thread from you', I will give your sons the Mitzvah of Tzitzis

I will purify them with the Mizbei'ach, which was surrounded in the middle by a red thread (to mark the half-way line). And because you added 'and a shoe-lace', I will give to your sons the Mitzvah of Tefilin-straps the MItzvah of eating the Korban Pesach, by which it is written 'and with your shoes on your feet' and the Mitzvah of Yevamah, in connection with whom it is written "And she shall remove his shoe". Furthermore, I will punish your arch-enemy Eisav using an expression of 'Na'al' (shoe), as the Pasuk writes in Tehilim (60:10) "Against Edom I shall throw My shoe".

And by the same token, using the same word, I will praise your children, as it says in (Shir ha'Shirim 7:2) "How beautiful are your footsteps when shod in shoes, o daughter of nobles".

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Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Rivo)

Which Sin Caused It?

" for the land is full of robbery" 6:11.

Rashi explains that their fate was sealed on account of robbery. But this contradicts Rashi's statement earlier, that wherever one finds adultery, an epidemic follows that destroys the bad together with the good, implying that it was the sin of adultery that sparked off the decree, and not robbery.

Citing R. Elyakim, the Riva explains that although the basic decree was sealed on account of robbery, the inclusion of the Tzadikim in the decree was due to adultery. In fact, he explains, this is implied by Rashi himself, who says that 'it kills the bad together with the good' in connection with adultery.

They query this answer, says the Riva, from the Pasuk "And the land was wicked (with reference to adultery) and the land was filled with robbery, indicating that the sin of adultery preceded that of robbery. That being the case, the decree to kill the bad together with the good was already in place before they perpetrated the sin of robbery. So what did the decree because of robbery add to the decree because of adultery?


Others therefore explain, says the Riva, that when Rashi says that wherever one finds adultery, an epidemic follows that destroys the bad together with the good, he is not referring to a Divine plague, but to the devastating effect of adultery. It can be compared, he says, to the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos, which explains that pestilence comes upon the world for sins that are punishable by death at the Hand of G-d (and to other similar statements made there and in other locations in Shas), which is referring to facts, not to a specific decree.

Consequently, when the world was pronounced guilty of the sin of adultery, they stood to be punished, bad and good alike, only no decree had as yet been issued. G-d might still have withdrawn His Hand and spared them on account of the merits of their fathers, or of merits that they had accumulated. But the moment they added robbery to the list of sins, G-d decreed irrevocably that they had to be destroyed. That decree in turn, would have been confined to the Resha'im among them, and it is because they were also guilty of adultery, they all had to be destroyed.


There are some who answer the first Kashya in that, had they been guilty of adultery only, G-d would not have destroyed them by means of a flood, but in some other way. And it was only when they turned to robbery that He decided to send the flood. This answer is difficult however, in light of the Chazal 'They sinned with hot 'zera', therefore they were punished with hot water', which clearly indicates that the flood was the result of the adultery and not of robbery.


Hot & Cold Water

" and you shall overlay it on the inside and the outside with pitch" (6:14).

Seeing as the water was hot, asks the Riva (see previous Pearl), the question arises as to why the pitch did not melt.

Citing R. Elyakim, he answers that the water was not hot enough to melt the pitch.

Others, he says, answer that although the water of the flood was boiling, the water that surrounded No'ach's boat was cold, and they prove it from the Medrash that Og Melech ha'Bashan survived by somehow holding on to the boat. Now had the water been boiling, he would surely have been burned to death.

The Riva wonders however, how it is possible for a sea of boiling water to have just one spot of cold water in the middle. Finally, he asks, why in any event, did Og not die (presumably he is referring to the fact that he survived an entire year in the water [despite the commentaries who explain that No'ach made a hole in the boat through which Og could place his head to eat the food that he served him]).

And he answers that his strength was commensurate with his size, so he was able to survive in situations where ordinary people would have perished.

A few Pesukim later however, he asks virtually the same Kashya citing R. Tan from Orleans, but in connection with the heat of the water, and although he gives the same answer as he just gave here, he adds that Og was a descendent of the angels who descended from the Heaven at the end of Bereishis, and who eventually became giants, and as such, he was made of a stronger substance than ordinary human-beings.


A Different System

"From the birds of the heaven seven of each species, male and female" (7:3).

The Riva points out that the Torah uses the expression "male and female", and not 'man and wife'; as it did in the previous Pasuk with regard to animals. And he attributes it to the fact that unlike animals, birds do not give birth to their offspring directly. They lay eggs, and the babies emerge only later.


Cham Sins, Cana'an Gets Cursed!

"And he (No'ach) said 'Cursed be Cana'an" (9:25).

The commentaries ask that if Cham sinned, why did No'ach curse Cana'an? (See Rashi).

The Riva answers that No'ach could not curse Cham, since G-d had just blessed No'ach and his sons after they exited the Boat.

He then cites a Medrash, attributing his answer to Rebbi Yehudah. According to Rebbi Nechemyah, No'ach cursed Cana'an because he was the one to inform Cham that his father was naked.


A Daddy at Six!

"And Avram and Nachor took for themselves wives; the name of Avram's wife was Sarai, and the name of Nachor's wife was Milkah, the daughter of Haran, father of both Milkah and Yiskah (alias Sarai)" (11:29).

The Medrash states that Avram was one year older than Nachor, and Nachor was one year older than Haran. It emerges that Avram was two years older than Haran. If one allows one year for the pregnancy of Milkah and one year for the pregnancy of Yiskah, this means that Haran conceived a child at the age of six.

The Riva explains this Medrash based on the fact that Avram was ten years older than Sarah, as we know from the Pasuk in Lech-L'cha (17:17). Consequently, when Sarah was born, Avraham was ten, at which point Haran was eight. When Milkah was born, he must therefore have been seven, and when she was conceived, six.

* * *


" and I will eradicate all of the existence that I made (ha'yekum asher osisi) from on the face of the earth" (7:4). The Gematriyah of "ha'yekum asher osisi", says the Ba'al ha'Turim, is equivalent to that of - 'Lo chayim li'techiyas ha'meisim' (they will not live when the dead come to life).

The word "ha'Yekum", he adds, appears three times in the Torah: Twice in this Parshah with regard to the Flood, where the Torah writes "And I will eradicate all of the existence" and "He eradicated all of the existence"; and once in connection with the disappearance of Korach and his men "and all of the existence which was at their feet". This teaches us that Korach, like the generation of the Great Flood, sinned on account of the abundant goodness and wealth that G-d granted him.


" And it was after seven days (le'shiv'as ha'yomim), the water of the Flood was on the ground" 7:10.

The Gematriyah of the words "le'shiv'as ha'yomim", says the Ba'al ha'Turim, is equivalent to that of 'li'yemei eivel Mesushelach' (of the days of mourning of Mesushelach - see Rashi).


" and the skylights of the Heaven (va'arubos ha'shamayim) were opened" (7:11).

The Gematriyah of "va'arubos ha'shamayim" is equavilent to that of 'she'lokach sh'tei kochovim mi'Kimah' (because He took two stars from [the Mazel] Kimah [the tail of T'le - Lamb, thereby opening the flood-gates, as the Gemara explains in Rosh Hashanah 11b),


"And only (ach) No'ach and those who were with him in the boat remained".

"And No'ach remained" comes to exclude anybody else; "only" too, comes to exclude. And whenever we have one exclusion after another, it comes to include, says the Ba'al ha'Turim. This is what prompts Chazal to say that Og, Melech ha'Bashan survived the Flood together with No'ach and his family.

How did they know that the survivor was Og?

The author therefore adds that the Gematriya of "ach No'ach" is equivalent to that of 'Og!'


" The boat rested on the Mountain range of Ararat" (8:4).

The word Ararat (with a Kanatz under the second 'Resh') appears on two other occasions in T'nach, once in Melachim and once in Yeshayah, where the Pasuk relates how after murdering their father, the sons of Sancheriv, King of Assyria, escaped to the land of Ararat. The same Pasuk already described how they killed him as he was bowing down in the House of Nisroch his god.

Now the word 'Nisroch', the Ba'al ha'Turim explains, means a plank (like the word 'Neser'). Because Sancheriv took a plank from No'ach's boat, which he discovered on Mount Ararat, he declared 'This is the god who saved No'ach from the Flood!' and promptly began to worship it.

* * *

(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 457/458:
Not to Love a Meisis and Not to Relinquish One's Hatred Towards a Meisis

Just as in the previous Mitzvah (not to pay attention to someone who prophesies in the name of Avodah-Zarah [see last week's issue]), so too are we forbidden to pay attention to the words of a Meisis, or to befriend him in any way. A Meisis is someone who comes to talk fellow-Jews into worshipping idols. If for example, he starts to praise the deeds of a particular Avodah-Zarah to the listener, to convince him to go after it and to worship it, and to leave the protection of the Wings of the Shechinah. About him the Torah writes in Re'ei (13:9) "Do not agree with him".

A reason for the Mitzvah is the same as the one that the author gave for the previous Mitzvah. And the same will apply to the Dinim of the Mitzvah.

Mitzvah 457/458:

The hatred towards a Meisis must be fixed in our hearts this means that we are not permitted to lighten the obligation to carry out revenge for all the evil that he attempted to perpetrate. On this the Torah says (Ibid.) "Do not listen to him", meaning that one may not listen to him to remove from our hearts the grudge that we bear him, that will bring us to taking revenge from him. And so the Sifri says specifically in explaining this Pasuk - 'Since the Torah says in Sh'mos (23:5) with regard to a fellow-Jew whom you hate "You shall surely help him (to unload his donkey)", which Unklus translates as 'Remove what you hold in your heart against him'. Perhaps, the Medrash suggests, you shall do likewise with the Meisis? Therefore the Torah writes "Do not listen to him!"

A reason for the Mitzvah is the same as that of the previous two Mitzvos - all in order to distance anything connected with Avodah-Zarah, so as not to stumble over it in any way.

Its Dinim too are the same as those of the previous two Mitzvos, and are to be found in Sanhedrin.

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