Sharing Torah Insights

Noach- Speak Softly

Posted on ל׳ בתשרי ה׳תשע״ב (October 28, 2011) | in Noach | by
“Take with you seven of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean (Anenu tahora) animal, a male and its mate”. (7:2)

Why did the Torah use the language of Anenu Tahora when the simpler “Tameh” could have been used*? [The Torah usually prefers terse language.]

This shows us that we should use only the most pristine of language. (Gemara in Pesachim 3a) The answer is that saying the word Tameh sounds slightly more ‘vulgar’ than Anenu Tahora and the torah also prefers only the most pristine type of language.

Asks the Dubna Maggid: “It says Tameh many times in the Torah! Take a look at Parshas Shmini and you will find many uses of the word Tameh! So what point is the Torah and Gemara making here in Parshas Noach, when in reality the word Tameh is used many times (later) in the Torah!?”

He answers with a parable. There was once a guy who was known by a derogatory name and rightfully so. The man was uncouth. A master once criticized his servant for flippantly referring to this person by a derogatory name, but later on the master used that very name himself in regards to marriage proposal with this third person. What was the discrepancy, the servant wanted to know? The master answered that the servant used the name for no apparent purpose. That is simply wrong. However, the master used the name in regards to a marriage proposal. There the master had a real purpose in stating to the Shadchan exactly the types of behaviors this person exemplified.

The same reasoning applies here, as well. In the Parshiyos later on when the Torah uses “Tameh”, there is a real need to do so. For example, the Torah has a real purpose in saying that a Nidda is Tameh. It is in order to demonstrate exactly we are dealing with, namely, a prohibition of closeness to someone in a certain situation. Therefore, the Torah used the word Tameh. However, by Noach, there is no definitive purpose in stating exactly what condition the animals were in – there were no rules riding on this episode. There is no need to say Tameh, so the Torah uses Anenu Tahora.

The lesson is that we should be careful with our speech. Even words that are not terribly offensive, but have a tinge of ‘dirtiness’ to them should be avoided, except in situations which call for it.

Good Shabbos from the Heights,
Yaakov

*The truth is that in English both words are translated as “impure”, sadly producing no real difference between the distinct Hebrew terms. But you could say it is like saying unclean vs. dirty. It is more pristine to say unclean. Clean and unclean here refer to kosher vs. non-kosher

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2 Responses to “Noach- Speak Softly”

  1. jlasson says:

    not sure what happened here. i think my cpu is a little out of whak. sorry.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    @jlasson, Fixed it :).

    [Reply]

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