Parshas Noach tells the well-known story of when Hashem brought a flood and destroyed the world except for a tzaddik named Noach, and his family. The reason given in the Torah for the Flood is that humans had destroyed society, and had gone so far away from how the world was supposed to function, that Hashem had no choice but to ‘start over.’ After the Flood ended, Hashem made a few structural changes to how man related to the world in order that future generations would not reach the same levels of degradation that the generation of the Flood had reached.
One of these changes is something that makes a very big difference in our lives, that we may not realize was not allowed until this point in history. “כָּל רֶמֶשׂ אֲשֶׁר הוּא חַי לָכֶם יִהְיֶה לְאָכְלָה כְּיֶרֶק עֵשֶׂב “נָתַתִּי לָכֶם אֶת כֹּל “Every moving thing that lives shall be yours to eat; like the green vegetation, I have given you everything” (Bereishis 9:3). With this statement, Hashem gave man permission to eat meat. For ten generations since Adam, all men had been vegetarians, not by choice, but by the command of Hashem. After the Flood, this was changed.
The Ohr HaChaim asks why Hashem waited until now to permit the eating of meat, and did not permit it immediately by Adam and the creation of the world. He explains that the permission to eat meat gives humans a certain governance over animals; Noach was given this governance for three reasons. The first reason is that without Noach, Hashem would have destroyed the entire world, including the animals that came with him on the ark. So, in essence, these animals, and their descendants, owed Noach their lives. Therefore, Hashem gave him authority over them. The second reason is that when Noach came off the ark, he immediately brought korbanos (from the animals) to Hashem. It was because of these korbanos that Hashem promised to never again destroy the world. (See 8:21.) Since Noach was responsible for insuring the survival of the world, Hashem gave him permission to satisfy himself from even animals. The final reason is because of all the hard work and effort Noach put into taking care of the thousands of animals he brought onto the ark with him. As a reward, Hashem gave him this extra authority over them.
None of these reasons applied to anyone at any time before the Flood. Only now, after Noach did all these things in order to sustain the animals, was man given this ‘supreme’ authority over them, and was granted permission to eat meat. Enjoy your seudah this Shabbos! להתענג בתענוגים ברבורים ושלו ודגים!!
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