In Parshas Noach, we learn of the great flood with which Hashem destroyed most of the world’s population. The deluge was punishment for the misbehavior of the majority of the world. Because Noach and his family alone were righteous, Hashem commanded him to build a huge ship, which saved him and his family.
From the creation until after the flood, humankind subsisted on a vegan diet. People could only eat fruits and vegetables. After the flood, Hashem granted permission to eat meat, as the Torah states, “Every moving thing that lives shall be yours to eat; like the green vegetation, I have given you everything.”
However, Hashem did restrict this. There was a prohibition again eating the blood of an animal. This is as the Torah says, “Flesh with its soul, its blood, you shall not eat. Your blood, of your souls, I will demand [an account]; 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 from the verse “your blood,” and writes, “Even though I permitted you to take the life of animals, your blood I will demand of one who sheds his blood.”
We know that Rashi is very precise about the words he uses. It seems odd that Rashi uses the term “sheds blood,” rather than a phrase such as “murders.” From this, we see that, according to Peshat, one is liable for “shedding his blood,” even if it does not cause sickness or death.
This answers a very famous question, which many of the commentaries ask. We know that Avrohom fulfilled all of the Mitzvos before Hashem commanded us to do so. However, there is one commandment, which he did not perform until Hashem expressly told him to fulfill, the Mitzvah of circumcision, Bris Milah.
Now we understand why Avrohom Avinu waited. This that he kept all Mitzvos before the giving of the Torah was due to his great piety. He was going beyond his obligations. However, because he was a descendant of Noach, G-d prohibited him from “shedding his blood,” which would be the natural result of circumcision. His righteousness could not override an actual obligation. Therefore, he had to wait until Hashem expressly commanded him to perform this Mitzvah.
Have a wonderful Shabbos!
Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn
Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 10, p.138 ff.
DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE
מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש
חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס
. Our Parshah, Bereishis 9:3.
. Ibid, ibid. 9:4-5.
. Talmud Yoma 28b.