Bereishit

September 27, 2013

Dear Readers,

Having completed a year devoted to the teachings of Rav Kook zatzal, I have decided to go back to basics and devote this year with Heaven’s help to a deeper look at Rashi on the Torah.

The Ramban ( Moses Nachmanides) said of Rashi that the “birthright” ( as a commentator) is his.
The Tosefot, some of whom were Rashi’s own grandsons, said that they could have written a similar commentary to Rashi’s on the Talmud but could not have equalled him on the Torah and that Rashi was divinely inspired.
The first printed work in Hebrew was Rashi!

I’m afraid this week will be short as it is erev Shabbat here in Israel and those who still live outside Israel will get this late. It’s your own fault!

The Torah states: “And Lemech took for himself two wives: the name of one was Adah and the name of the second was Tzeelah” [Bereshis 4:19]. The word “lo” (for himself) seems superfluous in this pasuk.

Rashi comments that the custom of the generation preceding the Flood was to have two wives — one was designated as the wife to become pregnant and raise a family with, the other was reserved for non-procreative sexual pleasure. Rashi elaborates that the wife set aside for physical gratification would be given a potion which would make her sterile. She would be given a diet and make-up designed to keep her looking young and beautiful. The other would be neglected. This is the practice that Lemech himself adopted and this is why the pasuk writes “Lemech took FOR HIMSELF” — emphasizing this inclination to satisfy his own needs for physical gratification.

This is akin to a similar insight on the pasuk in Ki Seitzei introducing the laws of divorce: “When a man takes a wife and has relations with her. [Devorim 24:1]”
This is a rather blunt way of talking! The lesson to be learned from the way the Torah writes this is that when a man marries a woman and his first thought is about physical relations, this does not bode well for their marriage and we can well understand why it is that such a marriage will end in divorce. When a person enters into marriage only thinking about himself and his own physical needs, such a marriage is not destined to last.

Lemech’s wife for procreation, Adah, had two sons. The first one’s name was Yaval. He began the profession of raising cattle. He was a large scale herdsman.

His brother’s name was Yuval. He invented musical instruments. Both children of Adah had honorable professions — one was a shepherd and one manufactured instruments.

It turns out that the second wife, Tzeelah, also had a son. He was called Tuval Kayin. We went into the weapons business. He was basically the first gun manufacturer. His name indicates he wanted to improve on Kayin’s work. Kayin was the first murderer. Tuval Kayin was going to improve on Kayin’s work and manufactured weapons to make killing easier and more efficient!

Kli Yakar makes the comment that Adah’s children had honorable professions because the marriage was based on noble purposes — procreation. On the other hand, the offspring from Tzeelah, who Lemech married for more selfish, less noble, motives, went into a profession that brought further pain and suffering into the world.

Wishing you all Shabbat shalom and choref bari ( a guten winter)

Rabbi Meir Henoch Hakohen Wise

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