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Part 1 - Chapter 4 - Note 30


The portions of the following texts that are the most relevant to the book appear in bold.


Midrash Rabbah - Genesis XLIV:1

1. AFTER THESE THINGS THE WORD OF THE LORD CAME UNTO ABRAM IN A VISION, etc. (XV, 1). It is written, As for God, His,-way is perfect; the word of the Lord is tried (II Sam. XXII, 31) if His way is perfect, how much the more He Himself! Rab said: The precepts were given only in order that man might be refined’ by them. For what does the Holy One, blessed be He, care whether a man kills an animal by the throat or by the nape of its neck;? Hence its purpose is to refine [try] man.2 Another interpretation: ’His way is perfect’ alludes to Abraham,3 for it is written, And thou foundest his [sc. Abraham's] way faithful before Thee, etc. (Neh. IX, 8). ’ The word of the Lord is tried’ intimates that the Holy One, blessed be He, tried him in a fiery furnace. He is a shield unto all them that take refuge in Him (II Sam. loc. cit.); hence, FEAR NOT. ABRAM, I AM THY SHIELD, etc.
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(2) And this is the meaning of The word of the Lord is tried.
(3) The verse will then be translated: O God! his (Abraham's) way, etc.


Midrash Rabbah - Leviticus XIII:3

3. Another interpretation: THESE ARE THE LIVING THINGS WHICH YE MAY EAT AMONG ALL THE BEASTS THAT ARE ON THE EARTH (XI, 2).3 This is [alluded to in] what is written, Every word of God is pure (Prov. XXX, 5).4 Rab said: This means the precepts were given for the express purpose of purifying mankind.5 Why [must one assume] so much?-Because it is said, He is a shield to them that seek refuge in Him (ib.).6
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(3) Edd. cite (here and end of preceding paragraph) not this but Deut. XIV, 4. Mah. says the reason is that the latter reads not, These are the living things (hayyah), but These are the beasts (behemah), which version is required for the Haggadist's reference, later in the paragraph, to ‘Behemoth’. It is, however, not necessary to go to Deut. XIV, 4, for behemah since it occurs in our own verse in Leviticus, viz., Among all the beasts (behernah).
(4) Or purged, refined.
(5) Rab's reasoning seems to have been: Since it is too obvious to be stated that God's word is pure, the verse must have been intended to convey that the purpose and effect of God's word upon man is purging, refining, purifying.
(6) This latter half of the verse seems to have suggested the following train of thought: Since God is stated to be a shield to those that take refuge in Him, these people must be assumed to have passed through the fires of temptation and emerged purified, and then found shelter with God. The first part of the verse, speaking as it does of God's ways and perfection, of His word and purity, must therefore refer to the ways commanded by God for perfecting man, and His word purifying him (after Mah. on the parallel in Gen. R. XLIV, 1). Rab may have thought of the Targum for hosim (E.V. seek refuge’), viz. mithrahazin which, whilst meaning ‘trust’ in Aramaic, means ‘bathe’, ‘cleanse themselves’ in Hebrew.


Lev. 166

R. Judan b. R. Simeon said: Behemoth1 and the Leviathan2 are to engage in a wild-beast contest before the righteous3 in the Time to Come, and whoever has not been a spectator at the wild-beast contests of the heathen nations4 in this world will be accorded the boon of seeing one in the World to Come. How will they be slaughtered? Behemoth will, with its horns, pull Leviathan down and rend it, and Leviathan will, with its fins, pull Behemoth down and pierce it through.-The Sages said: And is this5 a valid method of slaughter? Have we not learnt the following in a Mishnah6: All may slaughter, and one may slaughter at all times [of the day], and with any instrument except with a scythe, or with a saw,7 or with teeth [in a jaw cut out of a dead animal], because they cause pain as if by choking, or with a nail [of a living body]? R. Abin b. Kahana said: The Holy One, blessed be He, said: Instruction [Torah] shall go forth from Me (Isa. LI, 4), i.e. an exceptional temporary ruling8 will go forth from Me.
R. Berekiah said in the name of R. Isaac: In the Time to Come, the Holy One, blessed be He, will make a banquet for his righteous servants, and whoever has not eaten nebelah9 in this world will have the privilege of enjoying it in the World to Come. This is indicated by what is written, And the fat of that which dieth of itself (nebelah) and the fat of that which is torn of beasts (terefah), may be used for any other service, but eat it [ye shall] not, in order that you may eat it in the Time to Come.10 For this reason
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(1) A beast of mythology to which reference is found by some in Ps. L,10; LXXIII, 22; Job XL, 15 etc.
(2) A sea-monster of mythology. v. Ps. CIV, 26; Job XL, 25.
(3) Levy, Worterbuch renders: are to be the beasts of chase of the righteous, etc.
(4) The Rabbis were opposed to these and glatiatorial contests, and disapproved of the attendance of Jews at them.
(5) Viz. piercing with fins.
(6) Hul. I, 2,
(7) This excludes also a fin, since it has a serrated edge like a saw.
(8) Permitting the flesh of Behemoth thus slaughtered.
(9) In Rabbinic law, the flesh of an animal that diet in any way other than by ritually valid slaughtering.
(10) I.e. that by your present self-restraint you may merit to partake of the banquet in the Hereafter (‘E.J.).


Lev. 167

did Moses admonish Israel, saying to them: THIS IS THE ANIMAL WHICH YE SHALL EAT.


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