3

While reading this week's portion, I was wondering why did Noach have in particular the merit to save the animals of the created world? They could have been saved in other ways, for example the Land of Israel was not flooded according to Bereishit Rabbah 33:6, but Hashem could have done a miracle or recreated them.

  • I'm a little unclear about what you're asking, and why the first Passuk of the Parsha isn't enough of an answer (i.e. Noach was a Tzadik, therefore he was the messenger through which Hashem saved the animals). Working with the other baseline facts of the case (i.e. Hashem is bringing a flood, Noach is making an ark, etc.), having the animals saved by being brought into the ark seems like a 'logical' continuation of the miracle in my mind. – Salmononius2 Oct 29 at 14:18
  • @Salmononius2 I thought by being a tzadik he merited that he and his family would survive, but it doesn't have anything to do with the animals. – Kazi bácsi Oct 29 at 14:56
  • 1
    Who says it's a merit? Maybe it was a punishment — he was forced to be stuck with all the animals in his ark throughout the whole flood. – Alex Oct 29 at 23:54
8

I think it is related to the fact that he was then allowed to eat the animals (after the mabul). If they don't owe man their lives, why would man be allowed to take their lives for his needs?

Edit: I have found this opinion at Nachmanides on Genesis 1:29.

  • Are you suggesting that God's main priority was that Noah be allowed to eat animals, so he then arranged the flood and the ark in order to make that fair? That seems all backwards to me! – curiousdannii Oct 30 at 3:57
  • Of course not. The flood came because humanity failed, as written explicitly. To my understanding, after the flood man was demoted to a level closer to nature. Part of this demotion is that he now needs to eat meat to survive. To be allowed to do that he was given a stronger ruling over animals. This stronger ruling is a result of the fact that man saved them from the flood. – ishoni Oct 30 at 16:25
  • Well what does what you've written have to do with why Noah in particular was chosen to save the animals? – curiousdannii Oct 30 at 21:02
  • My understanding of the question is not why Noah the person got to save the animals, but why man was involved in the survival of the animals. Since man was chosen to save the animals, who else but Noah will do it? – ishoni Oct 31 at 6:43
  • @ishoni I would add your comment somehow your answer, especially if you have sources for that. – Kazi bácsi Oct 31 at 18:30
1

Rabbi Belsky had a related question, and his answer will answer your question as well. This is printed in his Einei Yisroel on Torah, but I heard it from him live.

He asked why was Noach the tzadik chosen through which the world was saved? Chazzal imply that Mesushelach and Shem were actually greater tzadikim than Noach. See Sukkah 52b which calls Mesushelach one of the seven Shepherds and Shem ben Noach (according to Rashi there) was one of the four craftsmen mentioned in Zecharia 2:3. Noach was on neither of these lists. So why choose Noach And not one of them?

He answered the following. Hashem decided to destroy the world reasoning that all life was reprehensible. So who can prove that life, gashmius, deserves to exist? Through people who were so perfect that they are practically on the level of angels, pure ruchnios? It wouldn't work. Their greatness was attained by removing themselves from this world, not from being involved in it. They could not prove that the world should survive. Rather a tzadik like Noach, described as a man of the land (9:20) was the perfect representative to prove that physical life deserved to exist.

Getting back to your question. The point of Noach, according to this, was not simply to be a vehicle for saving the world. His behaviors and his actual being were part of what was necessary to save the world.

I would add that this approach also helps us understand why we have opinions in drashos going out of the way to point out that Noach was only considered a tzadik in his generation (תָּמִ֥ים הָיָ֖ה בְּדֹֽרֹתָ֑יו) and that Noach, unlike Avraham needed support for his righteousness (אֶת־הָֽאֱלֹהִ֖ים הִֽתְהַלֶּךְ־נֹֽחַ). Also his partial disbelief proven by his not going into the Teivah until the water forced him to (מִפְּנֵ֖י מֵ֥י הַמַּבּֽוּל). (See Rashi on all these pesukim). Noach's greatness was not in his otherworldly greatness like other tzadikim. His greatness was a different type. The type needed to prove that the world deserves to exist. All of Noach's imperfect actions up until his ignoble forced exit from the Teivah (הוצא) [הַיְצֵ֣א] 8:17 (see Rashi) and perhaps even his drunken behavior after exiting, are all part of the complicated figure we know as Noach who was able to prove through his imperfect perfection that man and the world deserve to exist. And as mentioned before, this was more than just being the vehicle for Hashem's decision.

  • You're somehow saying that Noach had to save the animals, being parts of the physical world, because he was a symbol of it? – Kazi bácsi Oct 31 at 18:34
  • 1
    More than a symbol, he was the epitome of it succeeding. – user6591 Oct 31 at 18:36

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .