Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Noach Earned Man the Right to Eat Meat; Yaakov Avinu Earned Klal Yisrael the Right to Have the Torah

Man was not allowed to eat meat until the end of parshas Noach.  That's like 207 p'sukim (1656 years) without meat!  If you don't think that's a big deal, then you clearly do not daven with the same people I do.  For many of them and their mother, the four food groups are: meat and three others that nobody cares about.  The Ohr Chaim HaKodesh brings three reasons that Noach was allowed to eat meat.
  1. Noach was chosen as the intermediary by whom the animals were saved.  The animals had "gone off the derech" along with the most of the rest of mankind.  Using the principle of "m'galg'lim z'chus al y'dei zachai" (HaShem chooses those who with merit to be the agents of good in the world), Noach is thus seen to be a meritorious fellow.
  2. Noach worked really, really hard feeding and otherwise caring for the entire animal population for a year -- under horrific conditions; cramped quarters, poor ventilation, 100% humidity (the epitome of the anti-OSHA factory) -- to sustain said animals.  Noach thus proved himself a worthy employee.
  3. Noach brought korbanos (of kosher animals) that demonstrated to HaShem that mankind (all eight of them) had learned its lesson and could be trusted going forward (more or less).  Noach thus recognized HaShem as the source of all life.
I, being a simple person, was satisfied with that.  A good friend (who otherwise shows good judgement in his life choices) was less so.  "So if you work for me, I can kill you?"  (My close friends have learned you need to be very blunt with me if you want me to get the message.)  Hmm... well... no, I don't think that's p'shat.

So I had to think about it (ouch!).  Here's what I think.  The question is not so much why Noach was allowed meat as why was Adam forbidden meat.  After all, Adam was allowed to eat everything else, why not meat?  The S'porno explains that before Noach, man was too similar to the beasts to be allowed to kill and eat them.  Man had to distinguish himself to merit eating meat.

And what was so great about Noach's actions to merit that for all mankind?  It seems to me that Noach's actions are reminiscent of the actions Yaakov took in his final encounter with Eisav.  Yaakov sent gifts, prepared, and davened.  That is, did chesed, hishtadlus, and avoda.  Those are the three pillars upon which the world is built (Avos 1:2).  Which means, explains the Rav mei'Bartenura, this world was created for no reason other than as a vehicle to express those three principles.  Noach thus transformed himself from just the greatest of the creations, to the actual purpose of creation.  (He failed to live up to that high standard, though, and that position was later reclaimed by Avraham Avinu... perhaps we'll discuss that soon-ish.)

Excuse me?  What was the chesed that Noach did?  Ah.  He made himself the kind of person that is worthy to be chosen for a the job.  Boaz told Rus that the chesed she did in marrying him was greater than her first chesed.  The targum explains that her first chesed was to HaShem, when she chose to become a giyoress.  The Sifsei Chaim explains that a person who steps up to be ready for avodas HaShem is doing a chesed for HaShem by enabling Him to infuse His Goodness into the world.

We tend to have a less that sterling view of Noach because of later choices he made.  We really need to remember, though, that we are here because of Noach and his exalted character, noble choices, and dedication to avodas HaShem.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…