by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 6, v. 16: "Tachtiim shniim u'shlishim taa'sehoh" - Hashem commanded Noach to build an ark which had three storeys. What did each level house?

From the top level down:

1) People, All animals, Waste. There is no specific mention of where the birds were. (gemara Sanhedrin 108b)

2) People and kosher birds, Non-kosher birds and domesticated and wild animals, Waste. (gemara Sanhedrin 108b, opinion of Rabbi Yirmiyoh)

3) People and kosher birds in the same quarters and non-kosher birds on the same level, Domesticated and wild animals, Waste. (gemara Sanhedrin 108b, second interpretation of the opinion of Rabbi Yirmiyoh)

4) People, Domesticated and wild animals and birds, Waste. (Old edition of Rashi)

5) All non-kosher species, People and all kosher species, Waste. (Yalkut Shimoni #54)

6) Waste, People and all kosher species, All non-kosher species. (Second opinion in same Yalkut Shimoni)

7) People and all birds, Domesticated and wild animals, Waste. (P'sikto Zut'r'so)

8) Insects and crawling creatures and people, All birds, All domesticated and wild animals. No mention is made of the area used for waste storage. (Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer ch. 23)

Ch. 6, v. 18: "Kol asher bo'ORETZ yigvo" - The RDa"K derives from the word "bo'oretz" that only land bound creatures died in the Mabul, but not the fish. The gemara Z'vochim 113b derives this from 7:23, "Kol asher beCHOROVOH meisu." The P'sikto Zut'r'so says that the fish merited to be saved because they did not have relations with other species. The medrash says that in this merit fish also merit to be eaten at every Shabbos meal.

Although fish seem to be very virtuous in regard to the incident of the Mabul, at the same time another medrash says that the ministering angel for fish came to Hashem and complained that fish are so easily captured in such large numbers. Hashem responded that this is in response to their not praying for the welfare of other creatures at the time of the Mabul.

Ch. 7, v. 2: "Shevah shevah" - Why seven of the kosher species and only two of the non-kosher? Rashi answers that Hashem was indicating to Noach that he should use some of the kosher animals as a thanksgiving sacrifice upon exiting the ark safely. The Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer chapter 23 gives another reason. It says that before the Mabul there was a great majority of non-kosher animals. Hashem wanted to have a majority of kosher ones and therefore required a much larger number of them to be brought into the ark.

The gemara Chulin 63a says that it is well known that there are a majority of non-kosher animals in the world. This seems to contradict the Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer and agree with Rashi's reasoning.

Possibly this can be answered by saying that there are a larger number of kosher animals, but the gemara might mean that there is a larger number of species of non-kosher animals.

Ch. 8, v. 7: "Ya'y'shalach es ho'oreiv va'yeitzei yotzo voshov" - The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh says that the words "yotzo voshov" indicate that Noach sent the raven out of the ark numerous times. He says that Noach sent the raven away because it had transgressed the ban on relations while in the ark, which was incumbent on all the creatures. However, the Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer ch. #23 says that the raven was sent for the same purpose as the dove was later sent, to see if the waters had sufficiently receded.

The Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer adds on a most interesting bit of information. The raven eventually did not return because it found the dead bodies of some people floating on the surface of the water and sustained itself from them.

Ch. 9, v. 5: "V'ach es dimchem" - The Daas Z'keinim on this verse relates the story of a time when there was an edict issued to attempt to force the members of a Jewish community to convert to another religion, R"l. A sage felt that the young children who were to be taken away from their parents stood no chance of remaining steadfast to their religion. He therefore took numerous Jewish children and "mercifully" put them to death rather than having them be forced to give up their religion.

"V'nikdashti b'soch bnei Yisroel" (Vayikroh 22:32), the mitzvoh of sanctifying Hashem's name is expressed in the reflexive (nifal) form. This indicates that not only are we responsible to sanctify Hashem with our actions, but to also see to it that Hashem is sanctified in any way possible.

MVRHRH"G Rabbi Yaakov Kamenecki zt"l explained that this is the source for parents allowing the lives of their children to be forfeited, rather than allowing their children to be induced into avodoh zoroh. He added that this is clearly indicated by the Rambam who says (hilchos yesodei haTorah 5:1), "All of BEIS YISROEL is commanded to sanctify Hashem's Holy Name." Nowhere else in the Rambam do we find the expression BEIS YISROEL to describe upon whom the mitzvoh is incumbent. This expression is used to indicate that children who are still minors are included, as we find the words BEIS YISROEL in T'hilim 115:12,13 referring to children; "Y'voreich es BEIS YISROEL, HAKTANIM im HAGDOLIM."

We see from this that it is incumbent upon us to sanctify Hashem's Name even with the lives of those who are not yet responsible to fulfill mitzvos.

However, there was another sage present at the time who felt that the situation was inconclusive, and the first sage had no right to assume that the children would surely be forced to abandon their religion. He declared that the first sage was guilty of murder and asked that a heavenly sign be given that he was correct, namely that the sage who killed the children should die an unusual painful death. The decree was rescinded shortly thereafter. The children were needlessly killed, and the sage who killed them was tortured to death by the officers of the government which had originally issued the decree of forced conversion.

Ch.9, v. 6: "Ki b'tzelem Elokim ossoh es ho'odom" - In Shmos 2:12 it says "Vayar ki ein ish va'yach es haMitzri" - The Medrash Shmuel on Pirkei Ovos (3:18) says in the name of R' Chaim Vi'tal that the reason a person is given the death penalty for the murder of a ben Noach is not for the murder itself, but rather because there will be a descendant of the murdered person who might be a righteous person, or a convert. The Medrash Shmuel writes that he asked R' Chaim Vi'tal that the Torah in our verse says a murderer should be killed, and the Targum says that this is true when there is a witness to the murder. We see the Torah gives us a blanket ruling. Surely there are times when there would have been no righteous descendant emerging from the murdered person. R' Chaim Vi'tal answered that Hashem would only allow the circumstance of a witness being present when there would have been a righteous descendant.

We can now understand the Rashi in Shmos 2:12. Rashi says "pshuto k'mashmo'o" that Moshe saw that no convert would emerge from this person's progeny (Yalkut Shimoni #167). Is this "p'shuto k'moshmo'o?" Simple pshat would be that he looked around and saw no one to witness this act. According to the above answer of R' Chaim Vi'tal we understand the words of Rashi. Since Moshe saw no witness, he realized FROM THIS that no convert would come from this Egyptian's descendants. This dvar Torah also appears in P'ninim Y'korim with the question being raised by R' Chaim Vi'tal to the Ari z"l and with some other variations.

Ch. 11, v. 9: "Va'yikach Avrom v'Nochor lohem noshim" - Why does the Torah spend so much time on the details of Yitzchok's finding a wife (all 67 verses of chapter 24), and by Avrohom and Soroh all we find is a verse simply stating that Avrom took Sorei as his wife? Possibly, since she was his niece and lived in the same community, it was simply a matter of agreeing to marry.

However, I heard that there is an important lesson to be learned from this.

The proper way to pursue a shidduch is for the young man and woman to rely greatly on their parents or parents' agent to give them guidance and even to help in the final decision making. Therefore the Torah elaborates on the shidduch of Yitzchok so that we should learn to follow this path. Avrohom and Soroh had parents who had totally different values from their G-d fearing children. Avrohom and Soroh had no choice but to take their own initiative.

To totally rely on oneself is not a lesson the Torah wants to teach future generations, hence there is no elaboration on their manner of pursuit of a shidduch.

Why were the life spans of the ensuing generations noticeably shorter than the previous generations? The Ramban in parshas Breishis 5:4 d.h. "Va'y'h'yu" brings a Rambam in Moreh N'vuchim, section 2, perek 47, who says that the life span of almost everyone was 70 to 80 years, and only the exceptions are mentioned in the Torah. The Ramban strongly disagrees, claiming that it is illogical for some people who have no special merit (see Pirkei Ovos 5:2-3) to miraculously live ten to twelve times as long as the norm. He says that all antediluvian (pre-Mabul) people lived much longer. After the Mabul there was a very negative change in the atmosphere which shortened people's lives.

Noach's sons who were born before the Mabul, lived longer than most, as they were strengthened by living during the very healthy antediluvian era, but a bit shorter than those who lived their whole lives pre-Mabul, because they were also subject to the negative atmospheric post-Mabul effects. Along came the Dor Haflogoh, the generation of dispersion, and the scattering to new climates had a further negative affect, cutting down the average life span by fifty per cent to below two hundred years.

The Sforno attributes the shorter life span to the changes of temperature throughout the year. He says that originally the earth was aligned at its poles perpendicularly to the sun and the climate and temperature were always quite steady. However, after the Mabul, Hashem changed the angle of the poles by tilting them 23 degrees. This is what gives us the change of seasons.


Yesha'yohu Ch. 54, v. 9: "Ki MEI NOACH zose li" - The Zohar on Vayeiroh sec. 3 page 15a says that Moshe was ready to give away his olam ha'zeh and olom habo for the atonement of the bnei Yisroel. Noach, however, did not pray for the forgiveness of the sinners in his generation. The Ari z'l expands on this in Breishis, shaar p'sukim drush #4, saying that Noach's not beseeching Hashem for forgiveness for the sinners of his generation during the 120 years (Rabbi Tanchum says that he spent 52 years building the ark, Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer chapter 23) which he built the ark and only caring to save his family required 120 years of spiritual repair. A spark of Noach's neshomoh was placed into Moshe who throughout his 120 years of life dedicated himself to the cause of the betterment and forgiveness of the bnei Yisroel. Noach's shortcoming also caused the Prophet Yesha'yohu to attribute the great deluge to him, calling it "MEI NOACH", "Ki MEI NOACH zose li asher nishbati mei'avor MEI NOACH ode al ho'oretz." This seems to be the most denigrating statement made about Noach.

On the other hand, Moshe's highest level of self negation was likely his statement of "M'cheini noh." He was ready to have his name erased from the Torah, a colossal spiritual loss, for the purpose of procuring atonement for the bnei Yisroel. His selflessness was a correction for the self-concern of Noach, as mentioned in the above Zohar, who says that upon hearing of the great deluge, Noach asked, "What will be of me?" Moshe's "M'CHeiNI" was a tikun, a reparation, for "Mei Noach," both containing the same letters, Mem-Ches-Yud-Nun.

The Baal Haturim says that "Mei Noach" atoned for "Chomos" (6:11), each having the numerical value of 108.


Where do we find the sun displaying the characteristic of being embarrassed by others but not responding by embarrassing them, "ne'elovim v'einom olvim?" We find that the sun is (shamed) eclipsed by the moon, meaning that the moon comes between us on earth and the sun, blocking it from our view. The sun however, never (shames) causes an eclipse. (Rabbi Chaim Heller in P'ninei Kedem)

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