Category Archives: Parshat נח

Parshat נח – Genesis 6:16 – Was it a Window or a Rock?

Genesis 6:16 – You shall make a window (tzohar) for the ark, and to a cubit you shall finish it to the top, and the entrance of the ark you shall place in its side; you shall make it with bottom [compartments], second story [compartments], and third story [compartments].

Gemora Sanhedrin 108a: Rabbi Yochanan taught: God said to Noah, affix precious stones and pearls in the ark in order that there should be light as if it were noon.

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #22

Rabbi Yochanan stated his opinion because ‘tzohar’ is from the same root as ‘tzoharaim’[afternoon]. Both these words are from the same root of zohar [shining]. The Hebrew letter tzadee (ts) can be exchanged with the Hebrew letter zayin (z) because they are from the same phonetic source. See also regarding this aggada in the Jerusalem Talmud Pesachim Chapter 1, Halacha 1.

Rabbi Yochanan’s opinion that the word ‘tzohar’ means a precious stone rather than the simple explanation of a window relates to another opinion of Rabbi Yochanan, in a different context. In Parshat Vayera (Genesis 19:17) the angels tell Lot [as he is fleeing Sodom} that he may not look back, behind him [at Sodom, as it is being destroyed.] The Midrash states that the angel actually told Lot, “you are not worthy of seeing the downfall of the wicked. Rather, you should be careful to pay attention to yourself”.

Also note that Noah is described as a “righteous person in his generation”. Rabbi Yochanan comments there and interprets this description as being a negative comment on the degree to which Noah was righteous. [In other words, “in his generation” is taken to mean, if he had lived in a different generation, his degree of righteousness would not have been remarkable.] If, for example, Noah had lived in the generation of Abraham, Noah would not have been considered especially righteous. Rabbi Yochanan also states in Midrash Rabba that Noah’s faith was flawed and he didn’t believe God’s word that He would soon bring a flood.

Thus, we see that it was clearly Rabbi Yochanan’s opinion that Noah was not fit to gaze upon the downfall of Sodom. Also, we know that if one places stones in doors and windows to let some light in – the explicit intent is to not permit looking outside. This is precisely what a window does, it allows light in and also enables those inside to look outside. It is for this reason that Rabbi Yochanan states that the tzohar was a stone rather than a window. It is consistent with his other opinion that Noah was not a perfect tzaddik. Noah was not so righteous that it was appropriate for him to be looking at the drowning of the evil men of his generation.

Editor’s Note: I like the idea that a person needs to be incredibly righteous to be permitted to look at (and presumably rejoice at) the downfall of evildoers. We, regular people, are not fitting for this. Also, note that the normal word for window is “chalon” not “tzohar”. It is for this reason that Rabbi Yochanan interprets the verse as he does.

 

Parshat נח – Genesis 7:10 – Seven Days

Genesis 7:10: “And it came to pass after the seven days that the waters of the flood were upon the earth.”

Sanhedrin 108B: “And it came to pass after the seven days… What was the purpose of these 7 days? The Holy One Blesses is He gave them a taste of the world to come.”

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #7

The toseftah for tractate Sotah (chapter 10) explains this more clearly as follows: “The Holy One Blessed is He gave them 7 days of eating and drinking in order that they should realize what they lost.” Yet, the reason for this benefit is not explained. Perhaps one could explain this based on the Gemara Taanit 21A

The men on watch in the temple did not fast on Sunday so as not to go from rest and pleasure to fasting and pain.

The commentators explain that trouble that comes after pleasure is harder than trouble that comes in an expected time. Therefore, Hashem gave the generation of the flood a period of great pleasure before the flood to that their pain be greater as they perished in the flood.

In another place we explained, based on this, the reason, as we hold, that anyone who eats and drinks on the 9th (of Tishrei), the day before Yom Kippur, it is considered that the person fasted on the 9th and 10th[1]. At first glance this merit is perplexing how can it be that eating and drinking can be counted as fasting? As explained, that a fast that comes after a period of much eating is harder, the increase of eating drinking on the 9th is a preparation for greater affliction on the 10th. Thus it is considered as if one fasted two days. Take note.

As to why Hashem decided seven days for this, one must say that it is revealed to Hashem that it takes seven days for a person to be fully satiated. Since Hashem wanted to satiate the generation of the flood up to the last minute, as explained, He therefore decided on these seven days. According to this, one can say this is the reason for the seven days of feasting for rejoicing newlyweds. Since it is a mitzvah to cheer up the bride and groom as much as possible, they established seven days to ensure maximum joy. This is also the reason for the seven days of a festival [2], on which, one must have extra rejoicing. One can also associate with this the seven days of mourning as it is written: “And I will turn your feasts into mourning[3] …” See also Judges 14:17.[4] We see that the two are juxtaposed. Just as a person will not be fully satisfied until seven days, so too, mourning will not dissipate in less than seven days. Take note. No further explanation is necessary.

One must clarify what is stated in Bava Basra 17a “The Holy One Blesses is He gave three people a taste of the world to come: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Yet, our Midrash states that Hashem also gave the generation of the flood a taste of the world to come. One must say that even though the language is similar the intent is different. Hashem gave the forefathers a taste of the world to come so they would know what they would merit. Thus their pleasure in this world was like the pleasure of the world to come. Not so for the generation of the flood. The Midrash does not mean that the Holy One Blessed is He gave them a hint of the pleasure of the world to come. Certainly, because of the evil ways, they did not believe in the world to come. Nor, did they get a portion thereof as the Gemara explains. He only satiated them with all the pleasures [of this world] as numerous as the pleasures of the world to come. This Midrash describes to us (who understand the pleasure of the world to come) the value and measure of pleasure, with which, He satiated the generation of the flood. They, however, did not understand this; filling themselves with the pleasures of this world so much, that, at the time of their destruction, they would long for those pleasures.

Editor’s note: I find it very interesting how the Torah Temimah extends the ides of the seven days to other areas of Halacha. We should take to heart that our focus should not be on this world, but on the pleasure we can merit in the world to come

[1] Yoma 81b

[2] E.g. Passover or Succoth

[3] Amos 8:10

[4] And she wept before him the seven days, while their feast lasted; and it came to pass on the seventh day, that he told her, because she pressed him sore; and she told the riddle to the children of her people