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.
(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
(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
(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.
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
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
(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
(10) I.e. that by your present self-restraint you may merit to partake of the banquet in
the Hereafter (E.J.).
did Moses admonish Israel, saying to them: THIS IS THE ANIMAL WHICH YE SHALL EAT.
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