Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Nimrod the villain or Nimrod the hero?

1) It's getting late in the week, so I'm going to not be fair -- I'm going to give you the question of R' Leibele Eiger, because it's a great kashe, but I'm not going to give you his answer because I can't find a way to do justice to it. You'll can look it up here -- it's the shalosh seudos torah). Rashi in P' VaYeira (18:32) writes that Avraham did not daven to spare Sdom for less than 10 tzadikim because Noach had 8 tzadikim in his family, plus Hashem, and that wasn't enough. R' Leibele Eiger asks: But Noach did not daven! Perhaps if he had davened (and the Zohar criticizes him for not doing so), Hashem would have spared the world for even less than 10 tzadikim. How was Avraham's conclusion justified?

2) I asked one of my kids whether Nimrod was a bad guy or a good guy, and the answer was pshita he was a bad guy, why would I ask such an easy one. I don't ask easy ones unless there is a catch. The catch here is that I noticed a Targum Yonasan that had never before caught my attention. The Torah tells us that Nimrod had a four-land kingdom of Bavel, Erech, Akad, and Kalney (10:10). Then the Torah tells us that from his land Ashur went out, and he built Ninveh, Rechovot Ir, Kalach, and Resen. Who does the pronoun "he" in the previous sentence refer to? Rashi fills in the gaps: It refers to Ashur, who left Nimrod's kingdom because he wanted no part in the tower of Bavel plot, which was instigated by Nimrod. Seforno adds that the Torah tells us of the cities Ashur built because the Torah wants us to know the reward Ashur got for not going along with the plan. Ramban interprets the pasuk differently: The "he" is Nimrod, who spread out over the land of Ashur and built these four additional cities -- no rebellion by Ashur, no reward. The subject of both pesukim is one person only: Nimrod. Targum Yonasan bridges both interpretations with a twist: Like Ramban, he reads the pesukim as referring to Nimrod alone, but like Rashi/Seforno, he adds a moral dimension -- it was Nimrod who fled the dor haflagah plot, and as a reward, Nimrod got to built four new cities to replace the four he had previously ruled over. Nimrod the hero instead of Nimrod the villain! Before you give him too much credit, the Targum Yonasan later in the parsha does quote the Midrash about Nimrod throwing Avraham into the furnace. Why would Nimrod refuse to join the dor haflagah's plot but rebel against Avraham's monotheistic teaching? I guess evildoers have to draw the line somewhere ; )


  1. Anonymous3:59 AM

    >>> Why would Nimrod refuse to join
    the dor haflagah's plot but rebel
    against Avraham's monotheistic

    the towerlings would disparagingly shelve Nimrod's cloak, made by Hashem for adam harishon, & compel him to don a standard uniform; Avraham's ethical god would recall that very cloak as stolen property: Nimrod receives "partial credit" for refusing to dishonor a unique garment not rightfully his

  2. Anonymous3:59 AM

    what's the sense of "1)"?? Noach
    was told up front that he & his would be spared, while the rest would die; Avraham is asking for all-or-nothing (not 8 or 10 apart
    from thousands)-- the 2 aren't comparable

  3. Anonymous2:23 PM

    in other words, Noach's situation
    reflects transcendence (some are
    above it all); Avraham's appeal
    expresses immanence (all those of sdom are in the same boat)...

  4. Anonymous5:48 PM

    ...sorry to stumble on, but to try
    to spell the point out--
    Noach would have to say to Hashem,
    'if you kill the dor, then kill me
    too' ("erase me from your book"),
    to begin to compare to the tzadikim
    of sdom as lumped by Avraham with
    the general populace (so doing,
    Noach would have to stick his OWN
    neck out, though Avraham did no
    such thing); Avraham would have to
    plea, 'at least spare the tzadikim
    of the city', to begin to arrive at Noach's portion (why didn't he try that tack, failing all else?)