Hamaayan / The Torah Spring
Edited by Shlomo Katz
Volume XIII, Number 2
4 Cheshvan 5759
October 24, 1998
Orach Chaim 3:16-4:1
Yerushalmi Pesachim 36
R' David Povarsky shlita (Rosh Yeshiva of the Ponovezh Yeshiva)
notes a number of parallels between Noach and Adam. Most
obviously, Noach and Adam each lived at the beginning of a new
world. Also, Chazal teach, Noach and Adam each provided the
merit in which his new world was built up.
Both Noach and Adam were tested in connection with a tree/plant
and each failed the test. Just as Adam was commanded to care for
all of the trees, but to avoid the Tree of Knowledge, the midrash
relates that Noach was responsible for replanting all of the
species of trees that had died in the flood, but he was
specifically warned to exercise caution around the grape plant.
The midrash further states that the vines that Noach planted
grew, and their fruits ripened, on the very same day that they
had been planted. This was similar to Adam's experience - on the
very same day that he married Chavah, she gave birth to their
In light of these similarities, it may be easier to understand
why Noach succumbed to wine. [Many commentaries understand
_Adam's_ sin as follows: Adam knew that by eating from the "Tree
of Knowledge of Good and Evil" - its full name - he would subject
himself to the influence of evil. Adam _chose_ to be subjected
to that influence because he believed that he could conquer it.
To Adam, a person who has faced-off with evil and defeated it is
greater than a person who has never been tested by evil.]
Similarly, Noach knew the dangers of planting grapes but, like
Adam, he _wanted_ to be challenged. [And, as with Adam, the
consequences were disastrous.] (Mussar Vada'at III No.3)
"Noach walked with Elokim" (6:9)
In contrast, we are told (17:1) that Avraham walked "before
Elokim." R' Yitzchak Arieli z"l (mashgiach of Yeshivat Merkaz
Harav and author of Enayim La'mishpat) observes: The Name Elokim
denotes G-d's manifestation in nature; indeed the gematria of "E-
l-o-h-i-m" equals the gematria of "h-a-t-e-v-a"/"the nature." We
are thus taught that Noach served G-d in a "natural" way while
Avraham's service was "superhuman." Measure-for-measure, Avraham
experienced "supernatural" salvation, for example, he emerged
unscathed from Nimrod's furnace, whereas Noach's salvation, while
miraculous, was clothed in nature (i.e., he had to take a boat).
Literally, the above verse says, "With Elokim, Noach walked."
Why is the verse worded that way rather than saying, "Noach
walked with Elokim"?
R' Moishele Taub z"l of Kaliv answers: The verse is teaching
that before Noach took any step, he dedicated it to G-d. Only
after he was "with Elokim" did Noach walk.
"And He smelled the pleasing aroma . . ." (8:21)
The midrash says that this refers to the aromas of the furnaces
into which Avraham, Chananiah, Mishael, Azariah and countless
later martyrs were thrown. R' Moshe Gruenwald z"l (died 1909 -
see page 4) explains as follows:
Rashi writes that Noach delayed entering the ark because he was
"small in faith." R' Gruenwald writes: This may be understood in
light of the gemara (Sukkah 28a) which refers to the logical give-
and-take of the Talmudic sages Abbaye and Rava as a "small thing"
and to the secrets of the kabbalah as a "great thing." Noach's
belief in Hashem's command that he enter the ark was "small"; he
understood _logically_ that he should enter the ark in case the
world would be destroyed. However, Noach delayed entering
because he thought that his contemporaries might repent at the
last moment and there would not be a flood.
_Logically_, Noach was correct. However, Noach failed to
understand that Hashem's commandments, even the commandment to
enter the ark, have a "great", i.e., a secret, kabbalistic, side
to them. Once Hashem told Noach to enter the ark, Noach should
have done so even if he knew that there would be no flood.
Presumably, Noach grew spiritually during his year in the ark and
even came to understand that "great" side of Hashem's
commandments. If so, we can understand why Noach brought a
sacrifice upon leaving the ark, whereas there is no record that
he had ever done so before. The explanation is as follows:
The early commentaries offer two reasons for bringing sacrifices.
According to Rambam (Maimonides), the Torah commanded us to bring
sacrifices because idolators do it and we are tempted to follow
them. At least, says the Torah (according to Rambam), channel
that temptation towards the true G-d.
Ramban (Nachmanides) disagrees strongly. He explains that the
true understanding of the sacrificial service is a deep
kabbalistic secret. Indeed, Ramban asks, how would Rambam
explain Noach's bringing a sacrifice? In the first days after
the flood, when Noach brought his sacrifice, there were no
Why then did Noach offer a sacrifice? Because he came to
understand the "great" (i.e., secret) side of the mitzvot during
his time on the ark. Part of the secret of sacrifices, according
to some commentaries, is that man feels the need to sacrifice
_himself_ to G-d, but, because this is forbidden by halachah, he
offers the animal as a substitute. Thus, the midrash says, when
Noach offered a sacrifice, Hashem was "reminded" of the many Jews
who would offer themselves as sacrifices throughout history.
"He planted a vineyard." (9:20)
The word "va'yita"/"he planted" appears three times in the
Torah - here, in the verse (Bereishit 21:33), "He planted an
eishel/orchard in Be'er Sheva," and in the verse (Bereishit 2:8),
"Hashem Elokim planted a garden in Eden." R' Eliezer David
Gruenwald z"l (died 1928 - see page 4) comments on this as
Although Hashem created many physical pleasures, the primary
purpose of life is to serve Hashem and perform His mitzvot. Thus
the gemara (Kiddushin 30b) states: "He created the yetzer hara
and He created the Torah as a spice for it." The Torah is a
"spice" for the yezter hara because it makes it possible to enjoy
the pleasures of this world (which the yetzer hara constantly
pushes upon us) in a permissible and holy manner. Specifically,
if a person uses physical pleasures as a tool in his service of
Hashem, then those very pleasures become part of his service.
The gemara sometimes refers to a bet midrash/Torah study hall as
a "vineyard." Thus, the combined message of the three verses
that contain the word "va'yita" is: If one plants a vineyard,
i.e., a bet midrash, then even his eishel (the acronym of the
Hebrew words for eating, drinking and sleeping) may help him on
his road to Eden.
R' Amram Chasida z"l
His contemporary, the Chatam Sofer, referred to R' Amram as
"The prince of Elokim, a prince among the princes . . . It is
well known that he is proficient in all aspects of Torah."
R' Amram was born in 1790 in Hungary, and, already as a child, he
yearned to settle in Eretz Yisrael. Once, when he was seven, his
family noticed that he was nowhere to be seen and that his hat
was missing. Setting out to find him, his father (R' Moshe
Nachum) encountered a peasant who said that a young boy had
passed by shortly before and asked for directions to Eretz
Yisrael. When the boy's father finally caught up with him,
young Amram burst into tears, "But I am on my way to Eretz
Yisrael! Why are you taking me home?"
As an adult, R' Amram served as rabbi of Mad, Hungary. Not
until he was 36 did he actually reach Eretz Yisrael. Settling in
Tzfat, he devoted himself to developing the community there
(which numbered 1,000 Jews). However, R' Amram lived in Eretz
Yisrael only four years, and passed away in 1830.
In his eulogy for R' Amram, the Chatam Sofer said:
He was the master of Eretz Yisrael, who took his soul in his
hands and traveled with his family to the Holy Land. His
desire was to settle in the holy city, Yerushalayim, but for
various reasons, he was delayed in Tzfat. He wrote to me
last year that he was headed to Yerushalayim, but only half
of his prayers were answered [i.e., he reached the Holy
Land, but not Yerushalayim].
After he taught and disseminated Torah in Tzfat for four
years, he was called to the Heavenly yeshiva. The Rabbis of
Eretz Yisrael wrote that he literally died from grief over
the exile of the Shechinah - woe to that day. Not only was
he a great person, a Torah sage and a tzaddik even when he
was in the Diaspora, when he arrived in Eretz Yisrael he
became as great as two of us.
He died at age 40 - how can I be consoled?
R' Amram's daughter was among the 500 Tzfat residents killed by
an earthquake in 1832. The prominent Hungarian rabbis R' Moshe
Gruenwald (the "Arugat Ha'bosem") and R' Eliezer David Gruenwald
(the "Keren Le'David") were R' Amram's grandnephews. (Sources:
Gedolei Hadorot 510; Melizei Esh, 7 Av)
Sponsored by Mrs. Esther Liberman and family in memory of husband and father Yaakov Azriel ben Aharon David a"h. The Rosen and Donowitz families in memory of grandfather and great-grandfather, Irving Peskowitz a"h
Copyright © 1998 by Shlomo Katz
and Project Genesis, Inc.
The editors hope these brief 'snippets' will engender further study
and discussion of Torah topics ("lehagdil Torah u'leha'adirah"), and
your letters are appreciated. Web archives at Project Genesis
start with 5758 (1997) and
may be retrieved from the Hamaayan page.
Text archives from 1990 through the present
may be retrieved from
to HaMaayan are tax-deductible.
VAYEITZEI AND CHANUKAH:
Of Climbing Ladders and Tugging Ropes
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5768
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5760
The Strong and the Weak
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5767
Today's Chanuka Miracle
Rabbi David Begoun - 5766
Yehuda, Yosef and Chanukah
Shlomo Katz - 5763
Our Noble Mission
Rabbi Label Lam - 5766
It's Who You're Dealing With
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5761
Leaving... a Good Impression
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5760
Giving it All We Have
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5762
Sadly Released from Prison
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5758
A Matter of Honour
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5763
When You've Got It, Don't Flaunt It
Rabbi Chaim Flom - 5768
Shlomo Katz - 5758
Physical or Spiritual - Who's In Control?
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5759
It Can Only Hurt Not to Ask
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5758
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5766