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Zevachim, 113


QUESTION: The Gemara records an argument between Rebbi Yochanan and Reish Lakish regarding whether or not the Mabul occurred in Eretz Yisrael. Reish Lakish says that the Mabul occurred in Eretz Yisrael just as it occurred in the rest of the world. Rebbi Yochanan says that the waters of the Mabul never entered Eretz Yisrael. The Gemara continues to discuss this argument at length. Later (113b), the Gemara explains that, according to Rebbi Yochanan, the people in Eretz Yisrael died from the heat that spread due to the boiling water of the Mabul.

TOSFOS (DH Lo Yarad) asks that it is difficult to understand how Rebbi Yochanan's opinion can be reconciled with the verse, "va'Yechusu Kol he'Harim... Asher Tachas Kol ha'Shamayim" -- "and they (the waters of the flood) covered all of the high mountains that are under the heavens" (Bereishis 7:19). Is not Eretz Yisrael under the sky just as the rest of the earth? This verse is interpreted in a literal manner in the Midrash (Bereishis Rabah 32:10). The Midrash relates that Rebbi Yonasan, while on a journey, met a certain Kusi who worshipped Har Gerizim. The Kusi told Rebbi Yonasan that the reason why he worshipped Har Gerizim was because that mountain was not submerged in the waters of the Mabul, and thus it must be holy. Rebbi Yonasan's worker in charge of guiding his animals asked permission from Rebbi Yochanan to respond to the Kusi. He asked the Kusi if Har Gerizim was under the sky. After admitting that it was, he quoted the aforementioned verse, showing that all of the mountains under the sky were submerged in the waters of the Mabul. How, then, does Rebbi Yochanan understand the verse?


(a) TOSFOS answers that perhaps the intention of the verse is not that the *water* covered the entire earth, but rather that the *effects* of the Mabul (such as the intense heat that resulted from the boiling water) and the resultant intense heat that it produced, blanketed even the highest of mountains. The Kusi in the incident in the Midrash maintained that Har Gerizim was not affected by the Mabul *in any way*, and when he was challenged with this verse, he had no response, because, as Rebbi Yochanan understands the verse, the verse clearly states that no part of the world was unaffected by the Mabul.

(b) Alternatively, Tosfos explains that Rebbi Yochanan maintains that the verse indeed is referring only to the waters of the Mabul. Even though the verse says that the water covered everything under the sky, it means that wherever the water went it covered even the highest mountains. However, the verse is not referring to the places where the water did *not* go. Accordingly, the Kusi in the incident in the Midrash was caught off-guard by the question from the verse and did not know an answer, although he could have explained the verse in the same manner that Rebbi Yochanan understands it.

(c) The YEFEI TO'AR (Devarim Rabah 3:6) gives a similar answer to Tosfos' second answer. We know that there is a rule "Ein Lemeidin Min ha'Kelalos" -- we do not use rules in an absolute manner. This rule tells us that we are to understand that the verse itself does not necessarily mean *all* of the mountains under the sky. (See Eruvin 27a, where Rebbi Yochanan himself applies "Ein Lemeidin Min ha'Kelalos.")

Another question on Rebbi Yochanan is raised by RAV REUVEN MARGOLIYOS (in NITZOTZEI OR here). Rebbi Yochanan in Sanhedrin (108a) says that there are three hot-springs left from the Mabul: Bilu'a of Gader, the hot-springs of Teverya, and Einah Rabasi of Biram. If Rebbi Yochanan is the one who says that the Mabul did not reach Eretz Yisrael, then how could he say that there are hot-springs in Eretz Yisrael that are leftover from the Mabul?

Rav Reuven Margoliyos answers that, apparently, the Mabul caused geological changes inside the earth that affected Eretz Yisrael, even according to Rebbi Yochanan. These geological changes caused the hot-springs to form in Eretz Yisrael. When Rebbi Yochanan says that the Mabul did not reach Eretz Yisrael, he means that the water did not come down from the heavens upon Eretz Yisrael, but not that the Mabul did not affect Eretz Yisrael in some way. He does not elaborate on whether the water also overflowed onto the land or not. In any event, it could not have been a significant cause of death, as the Gemara (113b) says that, according to Rebbi Yochanan, the people who died in Eretz Yisrael died because of the heat and not because of the water. (Y. Montrose)


QUESTION: The Gemara discusses how the Orzila d'Rima (see TOSFOS, DH Orzila, with regard to the identity of this creature) survived the Mabul. The Gemara assumes that it must have been able to survive outside of the Teivah (ark). The Gemara asks, however, that since the water outside the Teivah was boiling, the Orzila d'Rima should have succumbed to the boiling heat. The Gemara answers that we find that it was possible to survive the boiling heat of the water, as we find that the Teivah itself was not worn away by the boiling water, and neither was Og, the king of Bashan, who survived the Mabul as the Gemara in Nidah (61b, as RASHI here quotes) says. Therefore, the Gemara concludes, it must be that a miracle happened that around the area of the Teivah, the water was cool. This enabled the Teivah, the Orzila d'Rima, and Og to survive.

Og's salvation from the waters of the Mabul needs explanation. Why did Hashem let him survive? The Gemara in Sanhedrin (108b) says that the people in that generation knew that Hashem was powerful, but thought that they could withstand any punishment that He would try to give them. The Gemara says that their reply to Noach's prophecy of the Mabul was, "Mabul Shel Mah" -- "what kind of Mabul [can He bring to hurt us]?" Why, then, did Hashem let even one of them survive in a way that would apparently validate their claim that they, or at least one of them, in fact *was* strong enough that he could survive the Mabul?


(a) The RAMA MI'PANO in ASARAH MA'AMAROS (Ma'amar Chikur ha'Din 4:12) writes that Og was saved through the merit of his grandfather, Shamchazai. Shamchazai was one of the Benei Elokim who descended to this world from the heavens and proceeded to marry and have children (see Bereishis 6:2). The Rama mi'Pano continues and says that Shamchazai's two sons had a dream that the Mabul was coming and they informed him of this (the YAD YEHUDAH commentary on the Rama mi'Pano says that this is mentioned in the "Midrash Avkir"). One of the ministering Mal'achim (see Chagigah 15a) also informed Shamchazai of the Mabul. Once he found out, Shamchazai repented (indeed, according to the PANIM YAFOS in Bamidbar 21:34, he, too, survived the Mabul). The Rama mi'Pano then cites the Gemara that describes how Og survived the Mabul, and he cites Tosfos in Nidah (61a, DH Zeh) who comments that Sichon also survived the Mabul. The conclusion of the Rama mi'Pano is that this teaches us that "whoever mourns for the Tzibur (the public welfare), he *and his children* merit to see the comfort of the Tzibur."

(b) Perhaps we may suggest another answer. The SEFER HA'CHINUCH (Mitzvah 132) discusses the Mitzvah for the Kohanim to put fire on the Mizbe'ach. We know that fire from Shamayim was always on the Mizbe'ach, so why was it necessary for the Kohanim to put fire on the Mizbe'ach? He answers that Hashem always hides His miracles in ways that can give people reason to believe that there is no miracle happening. Hashem wanted the Kohanim to bring fire to the Mizbe'ach in order to obscure the fact that there was a miraculous fire from Shamayim that was constantly there. He cites another example. The Torah says, with regard to the splitting of the Yam Suf, "va'Yolech Hashem Es ha'Yam b'Ru'ach Kadim..." -- "and Hashem made the water move with a strong easterly wind the entire night" (Shemos 14:21). If Hashem was performing a miracle of making the sea split, then why did He not simply split it at the moment that He wanted it to split? Why did He need to bring a strong wind and make it look as if the Jewish people were simply benefiting from a rare natural phenomenon? The Sefer ha'Chinuch concludes that this is because of the "greatness of the Master, and the lowliness of the receiver." It appears that the Sefer ha'Chinuch is saying that Hashem does not want to make His miracles obvious and revealed to all either because of the unworthiness of man, or because doing so would make man more accountable for his actions (see CHAYEI OLAM 1:19, and YOSHEV OHALIM, Parshas Tzav).

Based on this concept, we can understand why Hashem would allow the most powerful person or people to survive the Mabul. The fact that someone survived would still give people the doubt that perhaps Hashem is not all-powerful. Although such a notion is obviously ridiculous, as the Mabul was foretold in a prophecy and caused unprecedented and unrepeated destruction, the fact that someone survived the Mabul is sufficient grounds for the disbeliever to deny Hashem's omnipotence, just as the wind at the Yam Suf and the fire brought by the Kohanim to the Mizbe'ach provide opportunity for the disbeliever to deny Hashem's omnipotence. This makes people less responsible for their sins and, as the Chayei Olam writes, allows Hashem to apply His attribute of Erech Apayim, letting the world survive without being punished for its sins. (Y. Montrose)

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