Bereishis 7:5 says:

וַיַּ֖עַשׂ נֹ֑חַ כְּכֹ֥ל אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּ֖הוּ יְהוָֽה׃

And Noah did just as the LORD commanded him.

Rashi there explains:

ויעש נח זֶה בִיאָתוֹ לַתֵּבָה:

And Noach Did- This is his coming to the Ark

However, verse 7 says:

וַיָּ֣בֹא נֹ֗חַ וּ֠בָנָיו וְאִשְׁתּ֧וֹ וּנְשֵֽׁי־בָנָ֛יו אִתּ֖וֹ אֶל־הַתֵּבָ֑ה מִפְּנֵ֖י מֵ֥י הַמַּבּֽוּל׃

Noah, with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives, went into the ark because of the waters of the Flood.

Rashi there explains Noach only went in because the flood forced him to

There's two ways to ask the question:

  1. If Noach only went in because he was forced, why is verse 5 praising him for listening to Hashem?
  2. If verse 7 (and 13) say explicitly that Noach went in the Ark, why does verse 5 need to tell me? (The Ohr Hachaim poses it this way)

The Gur Aryeh therefore explains the Rashi to verse 5 means Noach simply went to the ark, but didn't enter it. Verse 7 is where he enters it. The Levush HaOrah asks on this, that verse 5 says Noach did as he was commanded to by Hashem. Hashem told him to enter the Ark. By going to it and not entering it, how is that fulfilling Hashem's command?

At this point I don't understand how to reconcile the Rashi. How can his peirush be understood? (I understand there are other explanations for these verses, but I'm interested in understanding Rashi)

  • Does the Bible never repeat itself at all according to Rashi? It is only a hint anyway. Does Rashi hold that nothing is ever hinted in the Torah that is explicitly stated elsewhere. After all, even in the context of Derashot, the Talmud states מילתא דאתיא בקל וחומר - טרח וכתב לה קרא. (I recognise that the claim is that this is more than a mere hint. If one makes that claim, note the first question.) – mevaqesh Oct 18 '17 at 3:02
  • My experience with Rashi's Torah commentary is that it is not meant to be internally consistent. Of course, the more noticeable contradictions are "resolved" by those super-commentators who feel the need to, but anything; even two diametrically opposed statements are reconcilable with enough mental gymnastics. || Perhaps Occam's razor, with which you are so familiar would be relevant here as it would allow one to resolve all internal contradictions in his commentary with a single premise. – mevaqesh Oct 18 '17 at 3:09
  • [cont.] Accordingly, the Midrashic interpretation attempting to explain the otherwise superfluous and vague וַיַּ֖עַשׂ נֹ֑חַ כְּכֹ֥ל אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּ֖הוּ יְהוָֽה is not meant to fit with the Midrashic comment to verse seven. || His commentary to verse seven is presumably attempting to give explanation to the seemingly superfluous "מִפְּנֵ֖י מֵ֥י הַמַּבּֽוּל". This is what Perush Rashi generally does. (Not that there is any way to prove this of course; or disprove it. Rashi wrote no introduction outlying his methodology) attempts to specifically explain seemingly anomalous phrases. – mevaqesh Oct 18 '17 at 3:09
  • @mevaqesh note that Rav Herczeg pointed out to me it's a machlokes if Rashi is internally consistent. Mizrachi and Gur Aryeh say like you (although I guess only when forced since they try to resolve contradictions in Rashi) whereas the Maaseh Hashem (Rav in Poland, lived not long after Mizrachi) says it's unreasonable that Rashi would explain in one place like one Midrash and another like a different Midrash. – robev Oct 18 '17 at 3:20
  • I haven't had a chance to view the 1st Rash"i esp. with Siftei Chachamim. But since you cited it, my question is regarding the term בִיאָתוֹ. Could it not be referring to his bringing the animals to the ark? I know that the term should be in plural, ideally, but, often the singular is used to refer to the plural. – DanF Oct 18 '17 at 14:01

The decree of what was to happen to the rest of life on earth was told to Noach in 6:13 and 6:17-18.

If you look at the command of G-d to Noach in 7:1, it is that Noach should bring himself and the members of his household to the ark.

If taken literally, that can be understood as to the entrance of the ark, but not necessarily inside or it can mean inside the ark.

Since this was a negative decree, there is always the possibility of teshuva or that prayer and good acts such as tzedakah or Torah study could avert the decree.

Noach was unsure if the decree about destroying all life with water would be fulfilled as Rashi explains quoting Bereshit Rabbah.

It refers to him as one of the קטני אמנה (the small ones of faith).

Although many understand this to be a deficiency in Noach, meaning that he lacked faith in G-d to fulfill His decree, it can also mean that Noach was like a child in regard to his faith. That Noach had Emunah Pashutah.

This alternate type of meaning for קטן is like the alternate meaning when used by Yaacov Avinu in saying:

קטנתי מכל החסדים

In other words, Noach had simple faith that G-d would find a way around the harsh decree of wiping out all life. So Noach only fulfilled the idea of coming to the ark, but not entering inside, in order to demonstrate that he believed the decree would be averted.

When G-d started the rains to fall, Noach knew that the decree would be fulfilled and was forced inside.

  • Regarding your first approach, I can't deny that בא אל התבה is vague enough not to exclude going without entering, but the Levush HaOrah adds that if that were the peshat, the verse wouldn't praise Noach for fulfilling all that Hashem commanded, since the resha'im also went to the Ark. It can't them be considered a praiseworthy act. Regarding your second approach, it contradicts what you said initially that Noach was never commanded to enter the Ark. If he was and he failed to do so, the pasuk cannot say Noach did all that he was commanded. – robev Oct 20 '17 at 18:14
  • @robev I'm not arguing with you but it's not about being vague. The idea is about not giving up when a harsh decree is made. The exact language of G-d's command to Noach in Bereshit 6:18 would be fulfilled by simply going to the ark and not entering. And that is what is said explicitly in 6:22. What occurs in chapter 7:1-3 is the extra detail regarding increasing for the species which are tahor to 7 pairs each from the original single pair per species. And that is a sign hinting to the rains that would fall in another 7 days like in 7:4. In each case, Noach did exactly as G-d commanded him. – Yaacov Deane Oct 20 '17 at 19:17
  • Vague is relevant as it's the only justification to not go I to the Ark, which is the pashtus of what Hashem commanded. Since it was stated vaguely Noach had license to not go in and still follow what was said. – robev Oct 20 '17 at 19:28
  • And if you wish to seek a reason behind the increase of those species which are tahor, one of the qualities of the righteous, it seems to be based upon 7:1 where G-d tells Noach that because He saw that Noach was 'Tzaddik' before G-d in this generation. Like the posuk says, "Tzaddik yesod olam." (The Righteous are the foundation of the world.) That 'Tzaddik' refers to the sefirah of Yesod in G-d's system which is associated with the letter Zayin (ז). Thus, the increase of those species which are tahor and the sign of the additional seven days before rain would begin are in the merit of Noach. – Yaacov Deane Oct 20 '17 at 19:40

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