by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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YOM TOV SELECTIONS SHOVUOS 5770 BS"D
Translation of Medrash Tanchuma parshas Noach perek 3. Ch. 34, v. 26,27: "Lo s'vasheil gdi bacha'leiv imo, Va'yomer Hashem el Moshe ksov l'cho es hadvorim ho'eileh ki al PI hadvorim ho'eileh korati itcho bris v'es Yisroel" - Do not cook a kid in its mother's milk, And Hashem said to Moshe write for yourself these words because according to these words I have concluded a covenant with you and with Yisroel.
A loose translation of the Medrash Tanchuma on Breishis 6:9. "Eileh toldos Noach Noach" - May the Name of the King over kings who are themselves kings over kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, Who has chosen in Yisroel from among the seventy nations, as the verse says, "Ki cheilek Hashem amo Yaakov chevel nachaloso" (Dvorim 32:9), and has given us the written Torah text, whose intention is in allusions, hidden, and mysterious, and they (our sages) have clarified them in the oral Torah and exposed them to Yisroel. Not only this, but the written Torah is but generalities, and the oral Torah is specific and detailed. The oral Torah is vast and the written Torah is small. Regarding the oral Torah it is written, "Arukoh mei'eretz midoh urchovoh mini yom" (Iyov 11:9). It is also written, "V'lo simotzei b'eretz hachaim" (Iyov 28:13). What does "It (the Torah) will not be found in the land of the living" mean? Are we to deduce that it will be found in the land of the deceased? Rather, it means that the oral Torah will not be found by one who seeks the world's pleasures, lust, and honour, and fame in this world, but only in he who kills himself over it, as the verse says, "Zose haTorah odom ki yomus b'ohel" (Bmidbar 19:14). And this is the way of Torah, eat bread and salt, and measured water shall you drink, and sleep upon the ground, and a life of deprivation shall you live, and them you will properly toil in Torah (Pirkei Ovos 6:4). The Holy One, blessed be He, only concluded a covenant (the giving of the Torah) with Yisroel because of the oral Torah, as the verse says, "Ki al PI hadvorim ho'eileh korati itcho bris" (Shmos 34:27). Our sages of blessed memory have said that the Holy One, blessed be He, did not write in the Torah, "L'MAAN hadvorim ho'eileh," and not, "BAAVUR hadvorim ho'eileh," and not, "BIGLAL hadvorim ho'eileh," only, "Al PI hadvorim," and this is the verbal Torah (transmitted by mouth), which is difficult to learn and involves great pain, as it is compared to darkness, as the verse states, "Ho'om haholchim bachoshech ro'u ohr godol" (Yeshayohu 9:1). These are the masters of the Talmud, who perceived a great illumination, as the Holy One, blessed be He, enlightens their eyes in (clarifying) the prohibited and the permitted, the impure and the pure. And in the future world (it is said of them), "V'ohavov k'tzeis hashemesh gibvuroso" (Shoftim 5:31).
And Yisroel did not accept the Torah until He held the mountain over them as a keg, as the verse says, "Va'yisyatzvu b'sachtis hohor" (Shmos 1:17). And Rabbi Dimi bar Chama said, "The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Yisroel, 'If you accept the Torah it is good, and if not, there will be your grave.'" If you will ask, "At the moment that Hashem asked them if they would accept the Torah they all responded with, 'Naa'seh v'nishmo' (Shmos 24:7)," (the answer is) that there is not in her (the written Torah) (deep) understanding and pain (to grasp its meaning), and it is limited. But rather, what did He say to them (will you accept the Torah), on the oral Torah, which has in it minutia details of the mitzvos, both the easier and the harder ones. It (comprehending it) is severe as death and harsh as the abyss is its zealousness, because the one who studies it is only one who loves the Holy One, blessed be He, with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his capacity, as the verse says, "V'ohavto eis Hashem Elokecho b'chol l'vovcho uvchol naf'sh'cho uvchol m'o'decho" (Dvorim 6:5). How do you derive that this love means only the Talmud? See what is written right afterwards, "V'hoyu hadvorim ho'eileh asher onochi m'tzavcho al l'vo'vecho" (verse 7). This must mean the Talmud, which is upon one's heart (it requires analytical understanding that sits well in one's heart). Therefore say, that "V'shinantom l'vo'necho" (ibid.) refers to the Talmud, which requires sharp discernment. This teaches you that the first chapter of the Shma reading does not clarify the reward (for fulfilling its dictates) as does the second chapter, "V'hoyoh im shomo'a tish'mu …… (Dvorim 11:13), V'nosati m'tar atrz'chem" (verse 14), which is the reward for those who involve themselves in mitzvos (another version says the written Torah), but do not busy themselves with the Talmud. This comes to teach you that whoever loves wealth and pleasures cannot properly learn the written Torah, because it involves pain and sleep deprivation, and one wears himself out and degrades himself (physically) for it. Therefore its reward is set aside for the world-to-come, as the verse says, "Ho'om haholchim bachoshech ro'u ohr godol" (Yeshayohu 9:1) The great light refers to the light that was created on the first day of creation, which the Holy One, blessed be He, hid for those who toil in the oral Torah by day and by night, in whose merit the world stands, as the verse says, " Ko omar Hashem im lo vrisi yomom voloyloh chukos shomayim vo'oretz lo somti" (Yirmiyohu 33:25). What is the covenant that applies both day and night? It is the Talmud. As well, the verse says, "Ko omar Hashem im to'feiru es brisi hayom v'es brisi haloyloh gam brisi sufar es Dovid avdi ……" (verse 19). The verse also says, "Ki im b'toras Hashem cheftzo uvsoroso yeh'geh yomom voloyloh" (T'hilim 1:2).
And also, the Holy One, blessed be He, concluded a covenant with Yisroel that the oral Torah will not be forgotten from their mouths and the mouths of their children, even until the end of all generations, as the verse says, "Vaani zose brisi osom omar Hashem ruchi asher o'lecho udvorai asher samti b'ficho lo yomushu ……" (Yeshayohu 59:21). The verse does not say "mimcho" (only from YOU it will not be removed), but rather, "mipicho umipi zaracho umipi zera zaracho" (ibid.).
Commentators ask why this information is placed here in parshas Noach. Perhaps it is because at the time of the giving of the Torah had the bnei Yisroel ch"v not accepted the Torah, Hashem would have destroyed the world, as explained in the gemara A.Z. It is therefore befitting to discuss this in parshas Noach, where the world was likewise almost totally annihilated.
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