This week’s Torah portion, Noach, tells us of the devastating flood which destroyed most of the world. How was the world repopulated? Hashem commanded Noach to build an Ark. This served as a sanctuary for himself, his family and at least two of each type of animal.
Quite a bit changed in the aftermath of the Flood. Until that point, we were all commanded to be vegans. All of the inhabitants of the earth, people as well as animals, were only permitted to eat of that which grew from the ground. After the Flood, permission was granted to eat meat.
There were several conditions that went along with the permission to slaughter and eat meat. There was a prohibition to eat from an animal who was still alive. Additionally, the Torah tell us “But your blood, (the blood) of your souls, I will demand. From the hand of every beast I will demand it. From the hand of man, from the hand of each man, his brother, I will demand the soul of man.” Rashi cites the words “but your blood,” and explains them as follows. “Even though I permitted you to take the life of animals, your blood I will demand of one who sheds his own blood, (meaning one who commits suicide). According to Peshat, which is the simple explanation of the Torah, this prohibition includes shedding one’s blood even if it causes no damage whatsoever.
This provides us with an answer to a very famous question. We are taught that our patriarchs fulfilled all of the Mitzvos before they were commanded. Yet there is one Mitzvah which Avrohom did not perform until Hashem told him to do so; the commandment of circumcision. Many of the commentaries struggle with this question.
Based on the above we have a simple explanation. The commandments which were given to Noach apply to all of mankind. They are obligatory for each and every human. The fact that the patriarchs kept the Torah was a stringency which they accepted upon themselves. Because of the prohibition of shedding one’s own blood, Avrohom was not allowed to circumcise himself until he was explicitly told to do so.
May we all be careful to observe everything which G-d demands of us. In this manner we will certainly merit the complete and true redemption through Moshiach Now!
Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn
IN LOVING MEMORY OF OUR MOTHER
Mrs. Brocha bas Reb Tzvi Nechemiah Hacohen O.B.M. Cohen
Passed away on 8 Shevat, 5778
May Her Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
DEDICATED BY HER FAMILY
* * *
מרת ברכה בת ר’ צבי נחמי’ הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטרה ביום ח ‘שבט, ה’תשע”ח
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
יוצא לאור ע”י בני משפחתה שיחיו
Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 10, Beginning with Page 138
. Our Parshah, Bereishis 9:5.