For Ever a Yeshiva
Dr. Don Weissman wrote:
Recently in your weekly Torah publication you mentioned that Yaakov studied in the Yeshiva of Shem and Ever. What was being studied in this 'yeshiva' since the Torah was not yet given to B'nei Yisrael? What are the sources that in fact there were schools for 'Jewish' studies. I think there is need for answers to these and many many other 'rational intellectual' questions.
Dear Dr. Don Weissman,
Wisdom and righteousness didn't begin at Sinai. One need look no farther than the Chumash to see that Mankind had mitzvot and Divine wisdom before the giving of the Torah:
Example: Hashem directed Noah to take into the ark seven of every kosher-type animal and two of every non-kosher animal (Genesis 7:2). From this it's clear that Noah understood the idea of 'Kosher' 700 years before the giving of the Torah.
After the flood, Noah and his offspring were commanded not to eat a limb from a live animal (Genesis 9:4). This plus the six mitzvot given to Adam make up the seven 'Noachide Laws,'' including prohibitions against stealing, killing, idol worship, etc.
Today the Talmud contains no less than three tractates - Bava Kama, Metzia and Batra - dealing almost exclusively with property laws. Isn't it logical that people in ancient times - in upholding the prohibition against stealing - would need a similar code of property laws? Just as today Yeshivot exist where we study the wisdom received at Sinai, it's quite rational that academies always existed for the study of the seven Noachide laws and the prophetic wisdom of the time.
Therefore, Noah's son Shem and Shem's grandson Ever directed an academy in Be'er Sheva where these traditions were studied and upheld in the hope that they be passed on to future generations.
Ever hear of Hamurabi? 'The Code of Hamurabi' (18th century B.C.E.) is one of the oldest known legal codes on record. I heard from Rabbi Simcha Wasserman, zatzal, that Hamurabi was most likely a dropout from the academy of Shem and Ever.
- Bereishit Rabbah 26.
- See Genesis 26:5 that Abraham fulfilled the mitzvot