Mazel tov once again to our friends and neighbors Sandy and Ed Klar upon the beautiful (and socially distant) wedding this past Sunday of their son Jake, to Emily Blumenfeld. Mazel tov as well to Emily’s parents, Renee and Howard Blumenfeld and to both extended families. A special mazel tov to the grandparents on both sides. May Emily and Jake merit to build a beautiful life together.
Raboyseyee and Ladies,
Fish, Rainbows, and Exits:
According to Wikipedia – and who besides Rashi knows more- -Cloud computing is believed to have been invented by Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider in the 1960s with his work on ARPANET to connect people and data from anywhere at any time. Is that emes? Not! In the year 1657 (since creation), the RBSO was the first to use the cloud. He invented a way for Yiddin to connect to the RBSO’s messages and feelings. He called it the rainbow. We shall add some color to this soon.
Another thought before we begin. Also in 1657 since creation, after hiding out in the Teyva (Ark) for one full year while the world was being destroyed, and though the land was already dry, Noiach hesitated to leave the Teyva. It took a direct command from the RBSO for Noiach and family to disembark. Perhaps he had become accustomed to his new reality. In the year 5781 (2020), and 4,124 years later, after kimat eight months of being holed up in our various indoor arks of sorts, we too are seemingly waiting for the all clear sign; may it come soon. Omen!
One more: This past shabbis, a neighbor, chaver, and reader voiced displeasure with the coverage given to Lemach and his two wives in last week’s review. Said he, “with so many interesting topics in Parshas Bereishis, why focus on Lemach?” It’s grada emes: we opened and closed with Lemach and had lots to say about this very interesting character who happens to be -according to most- the father of none other than Noiach. The bottom line: it’s our 11th year, it’s the Oisvorfer’s tafkid (mission) to keep finding new and exciting topics. It so happens that Lemach led an exciting home life. Moreover, it’s my post and I select the topics. Shoin.
Ober what to cover this year? And then mamish out of nowhere, on Tuesday the heylige Ois’s daughter (Alex) sent a voice note asking me to instantly look up the pisukim where the RBSO told Noiach that He would no longer -even when very angry with man- destroy the entire world again. He backed up the promise with the sign of the rainbow. Exactly how a rainbow backs up a promise, ver veyst, ober one thing is zicher: If the RBSO made a promise, take it to the bank. Of course, one should not try repaying a loan to the bank or anyone else with a rainbow, that does not work. Ober, didn’t the RBSO -despite His promise to the contrary threaten to wipe out the Yiddin more than once while during their 40-year midbar stint? He did! Do you recall His anger when the Yiddin partied hearty with the eygel? The bottom line: taka He threatened at least twice but He did not follow through; He allowed Himself to be talked down.
Shoin, let’s taka begin with the RBSO’s promise. Says the heylige Toirah (Bereishis 8:21), azoy: And the Lord smelled the pleasant aroma, and the Lord said to Himself, “I will no longer curse the earth because of man, for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth, and I will no longer smite all living things as I have done. The bottom line: man was just bad and He was going to accept him with his flaws.
We will circle back to the RBSO’s words and the rainbow soon. For now, welcome to Parshas Noiach where just like that, ten generations have passed since the RBSO created the world and mankind. As discussed last week, man 1.0 was a shtikel failed experiment and the RBSO was mamish ready to start all over again. Ober, instead of a total reset, He selected Noiach and his kids for survival and shoin, you all know the rest of the story. According to at least some- the RBSO may have created and destroyed other worlds before creating man 1.0 and that’s how a few sages reconcile science with Toirah times. In other words: according to some, including Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, OBM, and others, the world may taka be billions of years old, ober the world of Odom and Man 1.0 is but 5781 years old as these words are being written. Shoin! Avada a few readers will be up in arms reading these words; who cares? In any event, once man 1.0 was created and though the RBSO was not very happy with his behavior -He was disgusted mamish- He decided to just reboot instead of hitting “restore to factory setting.”Veyter!
Noiach, his instant family, as well as a slew of animals -kosher and not, to include insects, and even grasshoppers- joined him for the one-year teyvo (ark) journey. They were the “designated survivors.” Towards the end of his journey we also found out that birds were included. The bottom line: whomever was selected for survival- human or not, were invited in some number so that they could repopulate the world post flood. What about the fish? Why weren’t they invited? Seemingly, so says the medrish, they didn’t require saving. Why not? The RBSO gave them a pass. They enjoyed their now enlarged pool for the year. Vusepes (why)? What merits did they have? Were they needed for tuna, herring, and or gifilte? Perhaps that too, ober the heylige Gemora (Kiddushin 13a, Sanhedrin108a, and Zevochim 113b) tell us that the fish were not sexual perverts, they did not have sexual relations -whatever that means- with other animals and hence were spared the RBSO’s wrath. In other words: the RBSO laid all blame for the perversion filling the land on man who seemingly -while acting like animals- also corrupted them. Moreover, all perversion took place on the ground and not in the sea. Shoin! Accordingly, the fish were spared.
Wow! But, didn’t we learn that the mabul’s (flood) waters were not just hot, but boiling mamish? We did! How could the fish survive, thrive and multiply when the waters were boiling? Weren’t the waters hot enough- almost lava like- to have wiped out the very foundations of the earth and thereby corrupting forever the ability for scientists to correctly rely on carbon dating to give us their theories on the world’s age? So the medrish tells us. And if that’s the case, how was it shayich (remotely possible) for the fish to have survived the flood waters? Nu, that question too was contemplated by the heylige Gemora which of course was waiting for wisenheimers like many of you to come along with snide remarks about the mabul, and ask questions about the fish. Says the Gemora azoy: It’s taka emes that the sea was boiling, ober the boiling waters were limited to particular locations. Where? That depends on whom you ask. Some say just around the area under the ark. Ober, deeper down where most fish hang out, the water temperature and conditions were just perfect. Go prove otherwise. Moreover, let us not forget the additional miracle the RBSO needed to perform for the fish to survive as freshwater when mixed with seawater would have been deadly to every single species except maybe salmon, and freshwater fish would have had a hard time knowing how to navigate over to the freshwater lakes as the flood waters receded. Nu, seemingly in an early version of finding Nemo, the RBSO made sure all was good. Another medrish tells us that the waters around the Tayvo were in fact quite cool and therefore its avada quite possible the fish hung around there. Where were the boiling waters? The waters were only boiling on the surface and not in the depths of the sea. Also good. Another medrish tells us azoy: the Atlantic Ocean did not boil and all the fish swam there. What the freshwater fish did, ver veyst?
Ober says the Chiddushei Agadot on Zevachim 113b so gishmak azoy: boiling waters were only found where they covered previously dry land. In other words, waters predating the Flood (i.e. the various bodies of water) – which contained sea life – were not subjected to the boiling temperatures in keeping with the notion that sea life was unaffected as they had not become corrupted. The boiling waters were only found on what was previously dry land, land where man engaged in corrupt acts and where he engaged with animals in corruption and where the animals themselves engaged in corrupt activities. We are not talking Hunter Biden type corruption. Mistama to thoroughly cleanse these areas from the semen left behind -if you chap- the RBSO arranged for a complete hot wash. In plain English: semen spilled unlawfully, was washed away by waters from the sea. Gishmak.
The bottom line: we are taught that while man and animal had crossed all sexual boundaries -meaning broken them mamish- the fish remained loyal. How does a fish remain loyal and pure? While man was engaging in relations which the RBSO found abhorrent and while man also engaged with the animal kingdom and the animals themselves- crossed over and engaged in wild sex with other vilde chayis- only the fish remained loyal to their spices and to their kind. Exactly what that means, ver veyst, ober we are taught that the fish were designated survivors while all else around them was wiped out. Veyter.
Shoin, let’s get back to the rainbow the RBSO mentions and uses as a guarantee that He will no longer wipe us all out at one time and let’s read what the heylige Toirah teaches us about it. Says the heylige Toirah (Bereishis 9: 11–17), azoy:
|11. And I will establish My covenant with you, and never again will all flesh be cut off by the flood waters, and there will never again be a flood to destroy the earth.”||יאוַֽהֲקִֽמֹתִ֤י אֶת־בְּרִיתִי֙ אִתְּכֶ֔ם וְלֹֽא־יִכָּרֵ֧ת כָּל־בָּשָׂ֛ר ע֖וֹד מִמֵּ֣י הַמַּבּ֑וּל וְלֹא־יִֽהְיֶ֥ה ע֛וֹד מַבּ֖וּל לְשַׁחֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ:|
|12. And G-d said: “This is the sign of the covenant, which I am placing between Me and between you, and between every living soul that is with you, for everlasting generations.||יבוַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֗ים זֹ֤את אֽוֹת־הַבְּרִית֙ אֲשֶׁר־אֲנִ֣י נֹתֵ֗ן בֵּינִי֙ וּבֵ֣ינֵיכֶ֔ם וּבֵ֛ין כָּל־נֶ֥פֶשׁ חַיָּ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר אִתְּכֶ֑ם לְדֹרֹ֖ת עוֹלָֽם:|
|13. My rainbow I have placed in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Myself and the earth.||יגאֶת־קַשְׁתִּ֕י נָתַ֖תִּי בֶּֽעָנָ֑ן וְהָֽיְתָה֙ לְא֣וֹת בְּרִ֔ית בֵּינִ֖י וּבֵ֥ין הָאָֽרֶץ:|
|14. And it shall come to pass, when I cause clouds to come upon the earth, that the rainbow will appear in the cloud.||ידוְהָיָ֕ה בְּעַֽנְנִ֥י עָנָ֖ן עַל־הָאָ֑רֶץ וְנִרְאֲתָ֥ה הַקֶּ֖שֶׁת בֶּֽעָנָֽן:|
|15. And I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and between you and between every living creature among all flesh, and the water will no longer become a flood to destroy all flesh.||טווְזָֽכַרְתִּ֣י אֶת־בְּרִיתִ֗י אֲשֶׁ֤ר בֵּינִי֙ וּבֵ֣ינֵיכֶ֔ם וּבֵ֛ין כָּל־נֶ֥פֶשׁ חַיָּ֖ה בְּכָל־בָּשָׂ֑ר וְלֹא־יִֽהְיֶ֨ה ע֤וֹד הַמַּ֨יִם֙ לְמַבּ֔וּל לְשַׁחֵ֖ת כָּל־בָּשָֽׂר:|
|16. And the rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will see it, to remember the everlasting covenant between G-d and between every living creature among all flesh, which is on the earth.”||טזוְהָֽיְתָ֥ה הַקֶּ֖שֶׁת בֶּֽעָנָ֑ן וּרְאִיתִ֗יהָ לִזְכֹּר֙ בְּרִ֣ית עוֹלָ֔ם בֵּ֣ין אֱלֹהִ֔ים וּבֵין֙ כָּל־נֶ֣פֶשׁ חַיָּ֔ה בְּכָל־בָּשָׂ֖ר אֲשֶׁ֥ר עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ:|
|17. And G-d said to Noah: “This is the sign of the covenant that I have set up, between Myself and between all flesh that is on the earth.”||יזוַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶל־נֹ֑חַ זֹ֤את אֽוֹת־הַבְּרִית֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר הֲקִמֹ֔תִי בֵּינִ֕י וּבֵ֥ין כָּל־בָּשָׂ֖ר אֲשֶׁ֥ר עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ:|
Ok, what do we know from the above? The RBSO placed a rainbow into the cloud and stated that He would look at it and remember His promise not to destroy the world again -at least not by a great flood. How does a rainbow which typically disappears from sight in a fast minute, act as a guarantor? Efsher you’re wondering azoy: did the rainbow exist prior to the Mabul? Was it the same, different? Is it the same rainbow we know and see on very rear occasions in our times? Was there a concept of the rainbow before its appearance as a guarantor? Or, did the RBSO create the rainbow as a new phenomenon for that specific purpose? What does the sighting of a rainbow in our times signify? Is the RBSO really upset with us? Nu, these questions too were on the minds of many an exegete and let us read what a few had to say, Ober, as always, there are multiple opinions and what the real pshat is, ver veyst? Moreover, from the RBSO’s words, it does appear that we Yiddin have epes a shtikel complicated relationship with the rainbow. On one hand, a rainbow is beautiful phenomenon of nature. When we sight one, we are instructed to make a brocho which in English goes azoy: Blessed are You, Lord our G‑d, King of the universe, who remembers the covenant, and is faithful to His covenant, and keeps His promise. On the other hand, says the heylige Gemora (Chagigah 16a) that looking at a rainbow shows that you do not care about G-d’s honor and it would be better if you had not come into the world. Yikes! You hear this? Wait, there’s more! The Gemora also warns that if you look at a rainbow your vision will dim. Mixed messaging? How dare we make a brocho without looking at a rainbow? And how does looking at a rainbow mean you are degrading the RBSO’s honor? Why does this beautiful phenomenon even happen? Is it good or bad to see a rainbow? Finally, do rainbows often times displayed on Windows home page count? Shoin, there are so many other questions, ober we can only answer a few and here we go.
Says the Ibn Ezra, the light of the sky was different prior to the Mabul, and as a result it could not make rainbows. In other words: the rainbow did not exist until the RBSO used it to guarantee His promise. Says the Kli Yakar: clouds were thicker prior to the Mabul, and rainbows could not to be formed. Ober, is that possible? Didn’t the RBSO create the entire world and all that’s in it during the six days of creation? Wouldn’t that include the rainbow? Seemingly it would and taka so says the Mishneh (Avos 5:12) where we read that the rainbow was created during the twilight following the sixth day of creation. What’s pshat?
Some say the waters held in the atmosphere precluded rainbows because the water droplets were not separated enough to make prisms that create color bands. Others say that rainbows existed but were given meaning only after the Mabul. In other words: avada the RBSO created the rainbow but its debut was delayed until it was needed some 1656 years later. Settled? Not!
Says Rav Saadya Gaon (Bereishis 9:13), azoy: the rainbow was not a new phenomenon. Rather it was imbued with new meaning as the sign of the covenant.It was repurposed. An elegant approach; both sides happy. And says the Ramban (Bereishis 9:12), azoy: although the simple reading of the verses indicates it was a new phenomenon, we are forced to accept the conclusion of the Greeks that rainbows are a natural phenomenon based on light shining on the sky, as this phenomenon can be observed when light shines on a container of water. Says the Akedas Yitzchok (Noiach: Sha’ar 14): the rainbow is a natural, and hence preexisting phenomenon. And says Ma’asei Hashem (Ma’asei B’reshis: ch. 28) that the rainbow was a preexisting phenomenon. He explains that specific meteorological conditions are necessary to sustain it. After the deluge, that specific combination of meteorological factors may be deliberately chosen by G-d to convey a message, whereas before they would have been random.
Settled? Not! Because the Ibn Ezra (ibid) referencing Rav Saadya, disagrees and explains that it was a new phenomenon. However, he writes (ibid: 14) that if one accepts the Greek explanation of the rainbow, then one would have to say that after the deluge the sun’s intensity increased. He seems to imply that the less intense sun was insufficient to produce rainbows at all. And the list of rabbis arguing over the rainbow goes on but we go veyter with the bottom lines. What do we know with certainty? Nothing! We remain confused. Ober, let’s chazir the positions. Did the rainbow exist or not as we know it today, prior to the Mabul? Yes. According to Rav Sa’adya Gaon, Ramban, Ralbag, Akedas Yitzchok, Maor Ha’afelah, the Midrash HaBeiur Rashbats, R. Eliezer Ashkenazi, and a few others.
Did it exist in a different form before the Mabul deluge? Yes, according to Radak, Ran, and R. Isaac Caro. Did it not exist at all prior to the Mabul? Yes, according to Ibn Ezra, R. Isaac Abravanel, and one possibility of R. Bachya. Was the rainbow new? Ver veyst? What we know with certainty is this: we very much enjoy sighting them live and admire them in images. Are they a sign of the RBSO’s anger? Ver veyst?
The bottom lines of this week’s parsha are azoy: the RBSO handpicked Noiach and his family as His “designated survivors” despite their own shortcomings. Noiach’s own shortcomings are exposed -if you chap- shortly after he exits the Teyva, and is while in a drunken stupor raped or castrated (or both) by his own grandson while the son was looking on. Shreklich! The details are not very pretty. They were not perfect people. Ober, the RBSO looked the other way and chose to accept Noiach, a less than perfect person, as he was. Then again, there weren’t many, or even any, other choices. The RBSO decided to get from him what Noiach was capable of and post Mabul, Noiach was capable of building a mizbayach (altar)where he offered sacrifices to the RBSO. The RBSO seemingly accepted his offering; He enjoyed it.
A final bottom line: It does appear to the Oisvorfer that the RBSO – going back to man 1.0 came to the realization that man was just bad and no matter how many trials and tribulations he was put through, man would never be perfect. Man was designed with built in flaws; it’s just how the RBSO programmed us. He chaps that man (woman too) was never good, and that man cannot ever be fully good. The bottom line: man can be tolerated and the RBSO has decided to have a relationship with man despite existential flaws. And if the RBSO is ready to accept man as he is, avada we should somehow find ways to tolerate one another. Wishful thinking.
A gittin Shabbis-
The Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv