Some say that Noach himself took care of the wild beasts. His sons: Shem was in charge of domestic animals; Cham over the birds; and Yephet over reptiles. All of them shared in caring for the other creatures. For twelve months they had to remain among wild beasts and snakes. One may logically ask what carnivorous beasts such as lions ate while they were in the Ark. But when no meat is available, even carnivores can be induced to eat specially prepared vegetarian foods. The Abravanel points out that there was a decree from God that even carnivores be vegetarians in order to make them less ferocious. There is a different opinion whereby the contention is made that carnivorous animals were sustained by a special radiation that God had prepared for this purpose. This is a Midrashic interpretation brought down in the Talmud. The story was related that Avraham’s servant Eliezer met Shem, the son of Noach, and asked him about life in the Ark. Shem had replied: “It was very, very hard. Some animals would eat only by day, while others would feed in the middle of the night, and in all twelve months that we were in the Ark we never got to close our eyes.”
God made promises to Noach when he left the Ark. When Noach and his children left the Ark they looked out and saw the entire world destroyed. It was desolate and empty with nothing left standing. They began to weep as they gazed on this cataclysm. They had themselves suffered during the Flood and had lost many friends and relatives. They had three major concerns. First, since only Noach and his family had survived they were very much afraid of the wild animals. They were vastly outnumbered by the animals and susceptible to the pack. Second, they were afraid that they would not have food to eat. The earth was completely desolate. Not a single plant or tree had survived the Flood. Even though Noach had taken along all kinds of seeds in the Ark to replenish the world, they would require time to grow. They were therefore in great danger of starvation. The Abravanel points out that the divine permission to eat meat was a necessity in order to avoid starvation since there was no vegetation to feed from. The third concern that Noach and his family had was about strife among the brothers. There was fear that one might kill another like Cain killed Abel, since there were no authorities to instill respect for law and order. Therefore all the survivors decided not to have any children. God told them not to worry about these three things, that all had been taken care of. Now they would be able to be fruitful, multiply, have children, forget about the past, and develop the future.
Rabbi David Grossman
Rabbi Joshua Grossman
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