Forethoughts and Afterthoughts.
Commentary on the weekly Torah reading.
In memory of Father, Yosef Ben Zelig.
March 25th 1911 - May 2nd 2008
In memory of Mother, Nechama Bas Tzvi Hirsh.
June 9th 1925 - April 16th 2003
In memory of Uncle, Moshe Binyamin Ben Tzvi Hirsh.
December 12 1929 - February 2nd 2010
In Loving Memory of Moreinu Horav Shmuel Yaakov Weinberg, Rosh HaYeshiva Ner Yisroel
Chukas (Numbers 19-22)
Noach (Genesis 6-11)
7:15 And they [the animals] came to Noach (Noah) to the ark, two by two from all flesh that had the spirit of life within them.
7:21 And all flesh that moved on the earth perished (in the flood), including the birds, the animals, the beasts, and all creeping things that creep on the earth, and all (the) people.
7:22 Whomever had the soul of the spirit of life in his nostrils perished, from all those that were on dry land.
Verse 7:21 tells us what perished. It appears to be a list of every living being. The next verse appears to be adding something to the list. What is it adding?
The verse refers to beings that have a soul and whose souls are in their nostrils.
Only people have souls in their nostrils, as we see from the following verse:
2:7 And G-D formed man (from) dust of the ground. And He blew the soul of life into his nostrils …
However, it's difficult to say that verse 7:22 is adding man to the list because people are already listed in 7:21.
The author of the Aruch Le'Ner offers this explanation.
The Torah uses several terms to describe the creation process.
One is the word "made" and another is the word "created."
When it says that G-D made something, it refers to a finished product. When it says that G-D created something, it refers to an unfinished product.
Genesis verse 1:27 states that G-D created man. This teaches that it's up to us to refine and complete ourselves.
Breathing the soul of life into our nostrils is unique.
When we exhale, we breath out something that comes from within us. Similarly, the soul that G-D breathed into man is something great and holy, something that came from within G-D, so to speak.
But note that G-D didn't put our souls very deep inside us. He just placed them in our nostrils. It is up to us to internalize our souls into our bodies and lives. We must actualize the potential greatness that we have.
That is a good part of the finishing job that we are responsible for.
With this we can now understand what verse 7:22 is telling us.
"Whomever had the soul of the spirit of life in his nostrils perished." These refer to people whose souls were in exactly the same place where G-D installed it. They ignored their spiritual dimension and totally immersed themselves into physicality.
The Torah is telling us more than just who perished. It's also telling us why they perished.
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