This week’s Parshah, Parshas Noach, tells the famous story of how Hashem brought a flood for forty days and forty nights on the world and destroyed it. The only survivors were Noach, his family, and all the animals which he brought onto his ark which Hashem had told him to build. The Torah documents how Hashem told Noach that from the impure animals, he should only bring two into the ark while he should bring seven pairs from pure animals.
The only reference we have to animals being called pure or impure is in regard to their kosher status. And so, Rashi explains, “העתידה להיות טהורה לישראל למדנו שלמד נח תורה” “(The word “pure” refers to) the animals which will in the future be pure for Yisrael. We see from here that Noach learned the Torah” (Bereishis 7:2 Rashi). The Sifsei Chachamim explains that Rashi understands this simply that the only way Noach could know which animals Hashem was referring to was if he had already learned the Torah. The Gur Aryeh however, asks a question on Rashi. We learn in Perek 6 Pasuk 20 (see Rashi) that the animals came by themselves to the ark without Noach going out to gather them and when they came to the door of the ark, the ark itself admitted them! If there was still a need for that animal, the ark would let it in, however, if the quota for that animal had already been filled, the ark would not let the animal in! So what proof is there that Noach learned Torah if it was the ark who decided which type of animal needed seven and which type only needed two?
The answer is that the ark was not programmed to only take seven or two of each species of animal, it was programmed to take which ever animals deserved to be saved from the flood. Since there must have been more than seven of each animal deserving to be saved, many more animals must have been admitted by the ark. So Noach had to take seven animals out of all the animals which showed up. The only way he could know which species needed seven and which needed two was if he had learned the Torah and knew which animals were kosher.
The Ohr HaChaim explains this pasuk in a different light. The pasuk reads, “מִכֹּל הַבְּהֵמָה הַטְּהוֹרָה תִּקַּח לְךָ שִׁבְעָה שִׁבְעָה” “Of all the pure animals you shall take for yourself seven pairs” (Bereishis 7:2). He explains that when Hashem told Noach to take the animals “for yourself”, He meant for your own purposes, meaning in order to eat and to bring korbanos. Perhaps we can use this to answer the question in the pasuk, that really the ark only accepted seven of each animal, not like the Gur Aryeh, and really Noach did not learn the Torah, unlike Rashi.
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