Vol 17.15 - Shemini 4 Spanish French Audio Video
Rashi (11:42): "Any creature that goes on its belly" The difference between "Gachon (belly)" and "Me'ayim (belly)" according to the Chiddushei Aggadot Maharsha - Tal. Kiddushin 30a)
"That goes on its belly": This is the snake (Torath Kohanim 11:163). The word Gachon denotes “bending low” and it is used to describe the snake because it moves while bent a prostrated posture, prostrated on its belly.
"Any creature that goes": This comes to include earthworms and what resembles those that resemble them i.e., that have tiny legs, but nevertheless slither like a worm on their bellies. (Torath Kohanim 11:163)
The Zohar compares the snake to the evil inclination. The evil inclination is smarter than to immediately suggest that we “crawl on our belly” and bury ourselves in earthliness. It begins by suggesting that we walk with a lowered head, that we forget G-d who is above us, as well as the higher purposes of life. This eventually leads us to forget our purpose altogether.
The antidote to the snake’s schemes is to immerse ourselves in the study of the Torah, especially the inner dimension of Torah, which lifts us into a realm that the snake cannot enter.
1. On the verse (Lev. 11:42):
“All that goes on its Gachon/belly, and all that walks on four (legs) to all that has many legs (you shall not eat, for they are an abomination)” (כֹּל הוֹלֵךְ עַל גָּחוֹן וְכֹל | הוֹלֵךְ עַל אַרְבַּע עַד כָּל מַרְבֵּה רַגְלַיִם לְכָל הַשֶּׁרֶץ הַשֹּׁרֵץ עַל הָאָרֶץ לֹא תֹאכְלוּם כִּי שֶׁקֶץ הֵם)
Rashi cites (in the first comment) "that goes on its Gachon/belly" and explains:
“This is the snake. The word ‘Gachon’ denotes “bending low” (שחיי׳) and it is used to describe the snake because it moves bent down (שח) and fallen on its Meiav/belly”. (הולך על גחון: זה נחש, ולשון גחון שחייה, שהולך שח ונופל על מעיו).
The reason that Rashi explains that “‘Goes on its Gachon/belly’ – this is the snake” is understood simply for the only place in Torah where we find a similar expression (by Sheratzim/crawling creatures) is by the snake (in Parshat Bereshit), where it states: “You shall walk on your Gachon/belly” (עַל גְּחֹנְךָ תֵלֵךְ). Therefore it is understood that even the expression “goes on its Gachon/belly” - means a snake.
One must however understood the conclusion of Rashi’s explanation:
“The word ‘Gachon’ denotes “bending low” (שחיי׳) and it is used to describe the snake because it moves bent down (שח) and fallen on its Meiav/belly”.
For as aforementioned, it already states in in Parshat Bereshit: “You shall walk on your Gachon/belly”. However there, Rashi does not explain what the “word “Gachon” is -
(He just explains that “It had legs, but they were cut off”) –
Therefore it is not understood:
Rashi should have explained the meaning of the word “Gachon”, when it first appeared in scripture, and not rely on his explanation in Parshat Shemini?
2. Seemingly one could answer that the reason that Rashi does not explain (in Parshat Bereshit) what “You shall walk on your Gachon/belly” means - is because the explanation of “Gachon” is self-understood.
This is because of one of two reasons:
1. On the verse “And the name of the second river is Gichon” (which is stated before the verse “You shall walk on your Gachon/belly”), Rashi explains that:
“Gihon: (It is so called because) it flows and roars, and its roar is very great, like: “If an (ox) gore (יִגַח),” for he gores and goes on to roar.” (גיחון: שהיה הולך והומה והמייתו גדולה מאד, כמו כי יגח, שמנגח והולך והומה).
Similarly one could translate “You shall walk on your Gachon/belly”. For since a “snake” crawls on the ground
(As Rashi states “It had legs, but they were cut off”)
therefore the walking is called “on the Gachon/belly” –
(and in the words of the Gaon Ibn Ezra)
“because of the wind that emerges from it” (בעבור הרוח שיגיח ממנו). This means that Rashi relies on the explanation in the previous verse – where it states: “Gichon”.
2. “Gachon” means - Me'ayim (מעיים) (belly)" – as the Targum translates “You shall walk on your Gachon/belly”– as “go on your Me'ayim”
(Or chest (חזה) as the ibn Ezra explains).
And Rashi does not need to explain it since “Gachon” is a word in the holy tongue (לשון־קודש) that a student knows the translation of (just as he knows the explanation of the word Me'ayim (or “chest”).
However according to this it is difficult from the other side:
What is Rashi’s proof that here the explanation of “that goes on its Gachon/belly” is not like that of “You shall walk on your Gachon/belly” - as the Ibn Ezra explains here that –
(It is not that it “goes and roars etc.” or (like the explanation of the Targum) (also here) that it means going on its Me’ayim (מעוהי״)) but rather that
‘Gachon’ denotes “bending low” (שחיי׳) etc.?
3. Afterwards Rashi cites the words: "All that goes" (כל הולך) and explains:
“This comes to include earthworms and what resembles those that resemble them” (להביא השלשולין ואת הדומה לדומה).
It is not understood:
1) While it is true that “Kol/all” indicates an inclusion (ריבוי),
(Note: the word “Kol/all”, according to the rules (Middot) of Torah, indicates that it also includes one or more other things. This is called an inclusion (ריבוי))
nevertheless what it the proof according to the simple understanding (Pshat) that it comes to include these two things:
1. “Earthworms” and
2. “What resembles those that resemble them.”?
2) This question becomes even stronger:
This commentary here is in Torat Kohanim and the Talmud.
The wording of Rashi “What resembles those that resemble them” is in Torat Kohanim.
However in the Talmud, the wording is “that which resembles an earthworm”
According to the version of the Talmud, one could learn (albeit with difficulty) that the word “Kol/all” comes to include just one other thing - an earthworm and what it similar to an earthworm. In other words, “earthworm” is an example of a species that is derived from the inclusion word (ריבוי) -“Kol”. This includes any Sheretz that is similar to an earthworm (and of course – to an earthworm itself).
However according to the version of Torat Kohanim – “what resembles those that resemble them” – it emphasizes that there are two inclusions (ריבויים) (two levels)
1. “Earthworm” which is similar to a snake.
2. “What resembles those that resemble them” – Sheratzim that are
(not similar to a snake, but are)
similar to an earthworm which itself is just a similarity to the snake.
And Rashi chooses the version of the Torat Kohanim and not the version of the Talmud!
3) Why does Rashi also cite from the verse, the word “goes” (כל הולך) – for the inclusion is just from the word “Kol/all”?
Immediately later, when discussing a similar wording, Rashi cites (from the words of the verse “all that walks on four (legs)” and cites in the heading (just the word) “Kol/all” and explains:
“This comes to include the beetle (החפושית) etc.
However, there, Rashi does not add in the heading, the word “goes”?
4. After this Rashi cites the heading “that walks on four (legs)” and explains:
“This is the scorpion”
(Which is the only Sheretz which “that walks on four legs”).
And after that he cites, as aforementioned, the word “Kol/all” and explains:
“To include the beetle, called escarbot in French, and what resembles those that resemble them“
Here also it is not understood: (similar to Par. 3):
1. Where does Rashi derive from the simple understanding of the verse (Pshat) that the word “Kol/all” includes two things:
2. “What resembles those that resemble them”
2. Why does Rashi choose the version of the Torat Kohanim and not that of the Talmud – “similar to a beetle”?
5. Later on Rashi cites the heading “that has many legs” and explains:
“This is the Nadal (נדל), a Sheretz with legs from its head to its tail, on either side, called centipede”
(And with this Rashi concludes his explanation on this verse).
The reason that Rashi elaborates in explaining that a Nadal is
“A creature with legs from its head to its tail, on either side, called centipede”
and does not concisely state:
“This is a Nadal called a centipede, in French”
For Rashi is forewarning us that there are many Sheratzim that have a many legs. Therefore why should one say that “many legs” refers to a Nadal? Therefore Rashi explain that this is a Sheretz whose entire body has legs – “from its head to its tail” (and) “on either side”.
That is why “it is called” so - it is named for the multitude of its legs – “centipede” (- one hundred legs). And this is the Sheretz which the Torah means when it refers to “many legs”.
Why, however, does Rashi not cite the word “Kol/all (that have many legs)” (כָּל מַרְבֵּה רַגְלַיִם) which is stated in the verse - that it comes to include also other Sheratzim which have many legs and are similar to a Nadal - ‘what resembles those that resemble them’?
The puzzlement is even greater:
It indeed states, both in Torat Kohanim and in the Talmud, that “All that has many legs (עַד כָּל מַרְבֵּה) comes to include “what resembles those that resemble them” – and Rashi cites these commentaries of the Sages in the first two places where it states “Kol/all” in the verse. Why does he not do so in this third instance?
6. The explanation of all this is:
As stated previously, since the verse uses the term “(that goes on its) Gachon/belly” – an expression that is used solely for the snake – this proves that it means a literal snake (this is the “snake”).
Similarly, the expression “that walks on four legs” is a scorpion (since it is the only Sheretz that “walks on four legs”). Therefore it proves that the Torah is speaking of a scorpion (“this” is the scorpion).
However, why does the verse state in a roundabout way: “that goes on its Gachon/belly”, and “that walks on four legs” (which mean a snake and scorpion), and not state concisely “snake” and scorpion?
(It is understood why it states “many legs” (not “Nadal”) - for one could say that “Nadal” is not a Biblical word (לשון־המקרא). It is not found in Tanach (rather just in Torat Kohanim here and in the Mishnah, and Rashi cites Torat Kohanim many times in his explanation in sefer Vayikra)
However, snake and scorpion are words that are mentioned many times in Scripture)
One must therefore say that with the expression “that goes on its Gachon/belly”, the Torah is not speaking of a snake, in the general sense, which can refer to many species and forms - but rather specifically to one that has the property of “going on its Gachon/belly”. Therefore it is understood that “Kol/all that goes on its Gachon/belly” includes Sheratzim that are specifically similar to a snake in the aspect of “going on its Gachon/belly” (“earthworms” etc.) and similarly this applies to the expression: “Kol/all that walks on four legs”.
And therefore the verse cannot state “snake” or “scorpion” for then the word “Kol/all” would only come to include the Sheratzim from the species of snake and scorpion.
Or - even if one would include even those that are similar to then, one would not know in what manner they must be similar – in the aspect of “that goes on its Gachon/belly” and “that walks on four legs”, or in other details.
According to this it is also understood simply why Rashi cannot here learn that “Gachon” – is “because of the wind that roars from it “(similar to his explanation on the word “Gichon” – for “Kol/all that goes on its Gachon/belly” comes to include other Sheratzim that “that walk on their Gachon/belly” and we do not find any other Sheratzim that goes and roars with wind (מגיח רוח).
7. According to this it is also understood that Rashi cannot explain (like the explanation of the Targum) that “on its Gachon/belly” means “on its Me'ayim” (על מעוהי).
For if so it would not be understood why the verse uses the expression “Gachon” which proves that “this is the snake”
(For this expression is only used by a “snake”, as aforementioned)
And “Kol/all that goes etc.” comes to include other Sheratzim – it could have just stated an expression that, from the very onset, includes all Sheratzim (from that category) like those that “go on its “Me’ayim”, or the like?
One must therefore say that “goes on its Gachon/belly” is a property which, indeed, is only in the snake. Therefore Rashi explains that “The word ‘Gachon’ denotes bending low because it moves bent down and fallen on its Meiav/belly”. (שהולך שח ונופל על מעיו).
From the onset it moves bent over (not “on its Me’ayim”), but afterward it “falls on its Me’ayim”. Whereas an earthworm, and the like, which is included from the word “Kol/all”, crawl from the very onset on their Me’ayim/belly.
(Similarly, this is also applies to the expression: “Kol/all that goes on four legs”. However a scorpion actually “walks on four legs”, literally. Whereas a beetle and the like, which is included from “Kol/all” have “more than four legs, however the upper ones are not used that much”.)
And therefore Rashi cites from the verse, the heading “Kol/all that goes" (כל הולך)”:
With this, Rashi is emphasizing that the similarity between them and the snake is only in the walking (הליכה) which comes later by the snake – afterwards when it “falls on its “Me’ayim/belly”. However the aspect of “Gachon” – which is an expression of “bending low because it moves bent down”– is indeed not a property of them.
8. According to this, is understood why Rashi chooses the version of the Torat Kohanim: “what resembles those that resemble them”.
For with this he wants to make known that:
1. The word “Kol/all” does not come to include other Sheratzim in the species of snake and scorpion
(which then would include also those that “do not resemble those that resemble them”)
but only to those Sheratzim that have a similarity to a snake and scorpion in the aspect of “goes on its Gachon/belly” .. that walks on four legs”
2. On the other hand:
Even “earthworms” are not similar to snake in all its details, even not in the aspect of “going on its Gachon/belly”. There is only a slight resemblance between them (for a snake, at the end of it all, “falls on its Me’ayim/belly”).
Similarly, a “beetle” has only a slight resemblance to a scorpion in the aspect of “walking on four legs” (since “the upper ones are not used that much”).
And since this is so, the word “Kol/all” can include even “what resembles those that resemble them” – as long as it has some resemblance in the aspect of “going on its Gachon/belly” and “that walks on four legs”.
9. According to all the aforementioned, the difference between “Kol/all that goes on its Gachon/belly” and “Kol/all that walks on four legs” and “Kol/all that have many legs” is also understood (where Rashi does not explain the word “Kol/all”):
“That goes on its Gachon/belly” and “That walks on four legs” are found (in Sheratzim) only by a snake and scorpion. Therefore when the verse adds “Kol/all that goes on its Gachon/belly” and “Kol/all that walks on four legs” - one cannot explain it literally as – “all” Sheratzim which go on “its Gachon/belly or that walks on four legs” – since, except for the snake and scorpion, there is no Sheretz which “goes on its Gachon/belly or on four legs”. Therefore one must say that “Kol/all” here is not literal, but rather just comes to include other things.
However, “many legs” – more than four – is found by many Sheratzim.
(Although – except for a centipede – there is room on their bodies to increase their legs)
Therefore the translation of all “Kol/all that have many legs” (כָּל מַרְבֵּה רַגְלַיִם) is literal,
(And Rashi does not need to explain it).
and means all Sheratzim which are in the category of “many legs”
10. One must however understand:
According to this, how does Rashi explain “many legs” – “this is the Nadal etc.” and does not even write “for example the Nadal” (כגון נדל)?
The explanation of this is:
Since, in the first two cases – “that goes on its Gachon/belly” etc. and that walks on four legs” – the verse means one Sheretz – snake and scorpion (as aforementioned, at length) – it is probable to say that even in the third case - “many legs” – it means one Sheretz – “Nadal”. And the expression “Kol/all that have many legs” means all categories in the aspect (species) of “many legs”.
(and Rashi does not need to explain it since it is self-understood. it is similar to what is stated beforehand many times “according to its kind” and the like).
11. From the lessons in Avodat Hashem:
Seemingly it is still not straightforward (at least according to the inner aspects) at the very end, the snake goes on its “Me’ayim/belly”
(Going bent over is only at the beginning of its movement) –
Therefore why doesn’t the Torah write “going on its Me’ayim” and with this include all the Sheratzim for that category (even the snake)?
However, there is a lesson in Avodat HaShem:
The Sages state on the snake:
“Here is the evil inclination (Yetzer Hara).
Regarding the Yetzer Hara that Torah states - that the Yetzer Hara does not immediately come to achieve that a Yid should go on his “Me’ayim/belly” – which means going, crawling and immersing himself in aspects of eating etc. and other physical aspects. He starts by causing the person to go “bent over” - his head is lowered, bent down, meaning that he is lacking in the “Lift up your eyes on high and see (who created these). (שְׂאוּ מָרוֹם עֵינֵיכֶם וּרְאוּ מִי בָרָא אֵלֶּה) –
However this accomplishes that in the very end he will become, G-d forbid, one who “falls on his belly”. As the Sages state:
“Such are the wiles of the Yetzer Hara: Today he says to him, 'Do this'; tomorrow he tells him, 'Do that,' until he bids him, 'Go and serve idols,' etc.”
Therefore the advice on how to be victorious over the “snake” is by immersing oneself in Heavenly aspects – Torah, in general, and specifically, in the esoteric and Pnimiyut aspects of Torah. This protects one from the aspect of “going bent over”.
And this is also alluded to in our verse:
As the Maharsha explains the statement of the Sages:
“Therefore the Rishonim (early scholars) were called Sofrim (counters) because they used to count all the letters of the Torah. Thus, they said, the Vav in Gachon marks half the letters of the Sefer Torah etc.”
“The letters only reflect on the name of G-d who is the complete hiddenness (הנסתר גמור) of the Torah, and since the Left Side (שהסטרא דשמאלא) and the power of impurity (כח הטומאה) is the Nachash HaKadmoni/Original Serpent (נחש הקדמוני) . . therefore it interrupts (הפטיק) the letters of the Torah with a Vav of “Gachon” to allude according to the letters of the Torah that they are all names of G-d and that there is no place at all for the powers of impurity for the Vav of “Gachon”, interrupts it”.
12. This very interruption (הפטיק) of the power of the snake must not just be through the Avodah of the nullification and destruction of the power of the snake, but also through the refinement of the snake, so much so that it becomes transformed to holiness.
As the Sages say on the verse: “He will cause even his enemies to make peace/yashlim with him” (בִּרְצוֹת יְהוָה דַּרְכֵי אִישׁ גַּם אוֹיְבָיו יַשְׁלִם אִתּוֹ) that:
“This refers to the snake”.
This means that the snake is indeed “his enemy” as it states “And I shall place hatred between you and between etc.” Nevertheless the snake will make peace (שלום) with him.
And the refinement of the snake of Klippah is through revealing the root of the snake of Klippah - namely that the Satan’s intent is for the sake of heaven – the level of the snake of holiness.
This is explained in the aspect of the “Copper Snake” (נחש הנחושת) that Moshe Rabbeinu made – that through “gazing at the Copper Snake“ and “looking heavenward” (מסתכלין כלפי מעלה) – meaning through the looking from the level of the root of the snake of holiness – the root of the snake of Klippah becomes “alive” (וחיה) – which means the refinement of the snake of Klippah.
And also the making of “peace/yashlim”, the peace/shalom between the snake of holiness and the snake of Klippah is alluded to in our verse:
The Tzemach Tzedek explains the aforementioned aspect of the statement:
“The Vav in Gachon marks half the letters of the Torah etc.”
that the large Vav of “Gachon” alludes to the Sefirah of Tifferet as it ascends to Keter.
Therefore it has the power to join the two half’s of the Sefer Torah, which are the levels of Chesed and Gevurah
(Similar to that which is known regarding Chatzot haLaila (midnight) that the first half of the night draws from Din (יונק פון דין) and the second half from Chesed)
Therefore the Vav of “Gachon” interrupts the power of the snake, since the power (Lit. nursing יניקה) of the snake is from the many contractions (צמצומים) of the Left Side. However through the integration (התכללות) of the left and the right (through the Sefirah of Tifferet) this drawing of power (יניקה) is halted”.
And one could say that even the “shalom” between the snake of Klippah and (its root) the snake of holiness, is through the large Vav. For this very joining between “Above” and “below” - not like the error of the apostate who said that:
“From the middle of thy (body) upwards you belong to Ormuzd from the middle downwards, to Ahriman”
(Note: in the Zoroastrian system, Ormuzd represents light, life and good, whereas Ahriman the forces of darkness, death and evil. Hence the upper part of the body, belongs to the former; and the lower half of the body to the latter.) –
and through the middle line (קו האמצע) which “passes through from end to end” (מבריח מן הקצה אל הקצה) – from the (highest) end to the (lowest) end – and therefore it makes peace between the heavenly family (פמליא של מעלה) and the earthly family (פמליא של מטה), so much so that also in the snake below, its root becomes revealed which is the level of the snake of holiness.
And this “peace” will be revealed in the coming of our righteous Moshiach, for even Moshiach is called “snake”, since he will “make peace with him” (יַשְׁלִם אִתּו) – soon mamosh.
mSichas and Maamer Shabbat Parshat Shemini 5730
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