7

I am curious as to how many species didn't go extinct immediately after the flood. There were 2 of each non-kosher animal that came off of the ark. I assume that the foxes and lions got hungry within the first few days of disembarking. So the fox eats a rabbit or a squirrel or what have you, and now there is not a pair of rabbits left to reproduce. Even a relatively short gestation period in the animal kingdom is several weeks.

I know that Noach fed the animals on the ark in such a way that the predators weren't eating other animals. Do we have to assume that Noach continued to feed them until all of the animals had reproduced sufficiently to let the food chain start again?

  • Well we find that the lion subsided on a fever Sanhedrin 108b, (I would assume all carnivores as well?), so if any extraneous means of sustenance did exist, we could assume it was supernatural and not dependant on Noach. If Noach did have to feed the lion like the Tanchuma says in ois 9, then your question is phrased properly as is. Either way nice question +1 – user6591 Oct 26 '14 at 1:25
  • similar judaism.stackexchange.com/q/23189/759 – Double AA Oct 26 '14 at 1:29
  • 2
    Considering that the every other element of the ark story is so obviously non-factual, it seems this issue should be the least of one's theological problems. – nbubis Oct 26 '14 at 11:26
  • 3
    @nbubis I tend to not limit my questions to only the most extreme theological issues. If you'd like to gloss over all the details, that's your prerogative. I'd prefer to not be so limited. – Y     e     z Oct 26 '14 at 18:57
5

Rabbi Sorotzkin in Oznayim Latorah (Insights to the Torah) says that Noach continued to feed all the animals for the year after they left the teivah. In Noach 8:17, Hashem gives a bracha which includes the term שרצו which implies increasing like the "creeping things" (such as insects). Thus, Rabbi Sorotzkin says that immediately upon leaving the ark they began repopulating the world miraculously and being fed miraculously until there were enough to live as a balanced ecology.

Note that many animals have a minimum viable population size. Consider what happened to the passenger pigeons when the flocks were thinned below the critical level.

Also note that the flood lasted a full solar year and the normal lifespan of some species is less than that. This implies that "time" did not pass in the natural manner for the occupants of the Ark.

Rabbi Sorotzkin on 8:19 They came out of the Ark by their families

As Chazal note, this verse alludes to Hashem's command that the animals not cohabit outside their species, and to the acceptance of it. It also alludes to a special warning, stemming from the unique situationin which all the animals found themselves upon leaving the Ark. During the twelve months of their sojourn in the Ark, the carnivorous birds and animals had refrained from violence; the lions had eaten hay like cattle. This was achieved either by Noach placing the carnivores and herbivores in separate rooms, "by their families", or because even the animals and birds heeded Hashem's commands in those terrible days (as they did in not cohabiting in the Ark), and left their fellow animals in peace.

Now however, that they were leaving the Ark for freedom, if they were to return immediately to their normal way of life, they would surely wipe out some of the unclean species of which only two remained, one male and one female, and the world would lose those species. They were therefore commanded upon leavin to live for some time (at least twelve months, the gestation period of the largest unclean beasts) "by their families" - carnivores and herbivores separately - until all had a chance to produce offspring. This obviated the fear that the world would be left without some species created by Hashem.

  • 'Continued to feed all the animals for the year after they left the teiva' contradicts 'and being feed miraculously'. – user6591 Oct 26 '14 at 2:47
  • 2
    @user6591 I assume the feeding on the teiva was somewhat miraculous - feeding a bunch of carnivores non-perishable food for a year? So it was a continuation of that. – Y     e     z Oct 26 '14 at 3:14
  • +1 - can you source the Oznayim Latorah more specifically? – Y     e     z Oct 26 '14 at 3:15
  • I do not have Oznayim Latorah at home. As I recall from following it in shul today, that was the Noach 8:17 pasuk of the initial brochoh. – sabbahillel Oct 26 '14 at 3:37
  • Gave you a checkmark but would still appreciate the Oznayim Latorah citation confirmed (and added into the answer would be even better). – Y     e     z Oct 27 '14 at 18:23

You must log in to answer this question.

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