From The Masters Of Kabbalah and Chumash
(5 Books of Moses)
13th century - "RambaN" - Rabbi Moshe ben
14th century - "Bachya" - Rabbi Bachya ben
16th century - "Alsheich" - Rabbi Moshe
Alshech of Tsfat
17th century - "Shelah" - Rabbi Yeshaiya
18th century - "Ohr HaChayim" - Rabbi Chaim
".....Come let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top
shall reach the sky. Let us make ourselves a name......"
He who knows the meaning of the word "name" will understand
their intent and will know the extent of their evil intention inconstructing
the tower. And then he will understand the whole subject, namely, that
theirs was an evil thought, and the punishment that came over them - to
be dispersed in their languages and countries - was meted out measure
for measure for "they mutilated the shoots" [of faith by seeking
to undermine the principle of the Unity]. Thus their sin was comparable
to that of their father Adam [see next verse: "And the Eternal came
down to see....which the children of men (ha-Adam) had built"].
Contemplete further that in the entire matter of the dispersion it mentions
the Four-Letter Name; the flood came on account of the corruption of the
land, and the dispersion came because "they mutilated the shoots"
of faith and therefore their punishment was meted out by His Great Name.
This explains the "coming down" and also the Divine measure
meted out in Sodom. [verse 19:24, where the Four Letter Name is also used]
"I have placed My (rain)bow in the cloud
From the perspective of Kabbalah, the word keshti (my bow) is
derived from kasha (hard, severe). It is a reference to the attribute
of Justice, the "hard" attribute. G-d said that it should become
the sign of the covenant, i.e., the sign of circumcision. The Torah very
significantly did not say "the rainbow I have placed in the cloud,"
in other words "the well known rainbow." The reason G-d refers
to "My rainbow," is to remind us that the cloud He speaks of
is not one of the regular clouds that appear in the sky every day. He
does not speak of the kind of cloud which discharges rain. G-d speaks
of the ananeih hakovod (the clouds of glory) such as when we are
told in Exodus 16:10 "and behold! The glory of G-d became manifest
in the clouds" (the prelude to the Israelites receiving meat and
bread from heaven at the hands of G-d.) The meaning of the words in our
verse "and the bow could be seen in the clouds" is "the
attribute of Justice will (then) become manifest in the cloud." Seeing
that we have a verse in Ezekiel 1:28 "as the appearance of the bow
which shall be on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brilliance
all around. That was the appearance of the semblance of the glory of G-d"
Our sages in Chagigah 16 interpreted these words as being a warning that
anyone who looks deliberately at the rainbow will have diminished eyesight.
You should be enlightened by the following comment in Bereishit Rabbah
35:3 on the words "I have placed My (rain)bow in the cloud
"The word keshti describes something that is an obstacle for
Me." Is there then such a thing as an "obstacle"
for G-d? Is there anything that HE cannot overcome? We must therefore
understand the word as derived from kash (straw) the pedicle of
a fruit. Why did the Midrash repeat the same comment twice? Look at the
conclusion of the passage! Here
G-d speaks to Noach alone (not to his children) when He says "this
is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all
of mankind." At this point G-d took Noach into His confidence and
revealed a mystical aspect to him that He had not revealed to his children.
This is the deeper meaning of the words, "this is the sign (visible
symbol) of the covenant." [Gen.9:17]
"G-d told Noach leave the ark" [Gen. 8:15]
The difference in the spelling of the command hotzeh and ha-yetzey
in numerical values is 4. This may be a veiled reference to the 4 lettered
name of G-ds attribute of mercy. The meaning them would be 'take this
attribute out of the ark with you', it will help all the creatures to
multiply and fill the earth. This may also be the thought behind G-d saying
in this verse va-yedaber, i.e. stern talk, followed by laymor
(to say softly). Since there was no outsider to communicate with, G-d
may have wanted to indicate that the harsh realities of the midat hadin,
(attribute of justice) would henceforth have to be tempered with midat
harachamim, the attribute of mercy, in order for the task of rebuilding
civilization to be carried out successfully. The period of trials and
tribulations is to be left behind with the ark.
"Noah walked with G-d" (Gen. 6:1)
The difference between the verses "Noah walked with G-d" (Gen.
6:1) and "G-d before Whom I [Abraham] walked" (Gen. 24:40) is
as follows: Noah needed G-d to "hold his hand", so to speak,
whereas Abraham was self-propelled and always took the initiative. Noah
was afraid to mix with the corrupt society he lived in and isolated himself
with only G-d as his companion because he was afraid of contemporary society's
possible influence. Abraham was not only confident that he would not succumb
to the corrupt society around him, but he tried to lead his fellow-men
back to the path of monotheism and a life of good deeds. I have elaborated
on this elsewhere. This is the plain meaning of those verses.
"And I, here I shall bring on a deluge" [Gen. 6:17]
It is difficult to justify the extra word, the first "I", Rashi
explains it to mean: "I am prepared to concur with those angels who
have considered man as not worth preserving." According to my own
approach it simply means that the stage had been reached for G-d to give
permission to the destructive agents that had readied themselves to carry
out their design. Although the verse specifies only rain, the Zohar has
elaborated on the meaning of the word mabul (deluge) which would
not have been needed had the Torah referred only to rain. This word alludes
to the deadly power of the angel of death.
Adapted from the 13th century classic by the illustrious scholar, philosopher
and defender of the faith, Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman-known as 'RAMBAN' or
'Nachmanides', a master kabbalist in his own right and a major link in
the transmission of Jewish mysticism-based on the excellent annotated
English translation, Nachmanides on the Torah, by Rabbi Dr. Charles B.
Selected with permission from the seven-volume English edition of The
Torah Commentary of Rebbeinu Bachya, as translated and annotated by Eliyahu
Munk. Rabbi Bachya ben Asher [1255-1340] of Saragosa, Spain, was the outstanding
pupil of Rabbi Shlomo ben Aderet (the "Rashba"), a main disciple
of Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (the "Ramban"). Several books have
been written about the Kabballah-based portions of R. Bachya's commentary.
Adapted from Torat Moshe - the 16th commentary of Rabbi Moshe Alshech,
the "Preacher of Zefat" on the Torah, as translated and condensed
in the English version of Eliyahu Munk)
Shelah - credits
Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz was born in Prague around the year 1565. He served
as Rabbi of Cracow and other congregations before he was appointed as
the Rabbi of the community of Frankfurt on Main in the year 1610. In 1916,
Rabbi Horowitz moved to Prague where he became the Chief Rabbi of the
city. He moved to Eretz Yisrael about 1621. He was rabbi in Jerusalem
and in Tiberias, where he died in or about 1630. In addition to his magnus
opus, Shenei Luchot HaBrit, he also compiled an edition of the prayer-book
with a comprehensive commentary. Many of his innovations, including his
formulation of the Kol Nidrei prayer, have become part and parcel of the
Selected with permission from the five-volume English edition of Ohr HaChaim:
the Torah Commentary of Rabbi Chaim Ben Attar, as translated and annotated
by Eliyahu Munk.
The holy Rabbi Chayim ben Moses Attar was born in Sale, Western Morocco,
on the Atlantic in 1696. His immortal commentary on the Five Books Of
Moses, Or Hachayim, was printed in Venice in 1741, while the author was
on his way to the Holy Land. He acquired a reputation as a miracle worker,
hence his title "the holy," although some apply this title only
to his Torah commentary.