The table below presents an aligned extract of verses in
Gn06-18b, Gn07-07, Gn08-16.
the entry/departure of Noah and his family from the ark.
The alignment justifies the Rashi assertion that
While in the ark there was abstention: Men (Noah-sons) and Women (Noah's
wife and his daughter-in-laws) were separate. After leaving the ark
normal relations resumed - families (Noah and his wife or Noah's sons and
Noah's daughter-in-laws, were together).
Rashi infers this from the different sequencing of Noah, his sons, his wife,
and his daughter-in-law.
Text of Verse
But I will establish My covenant with thee; and thou shalt come into the ark,
- thy wife, and
- thy sons' wives with thee.
The men (Noah and his sons) are with each other and the woman
(Noah's wife and his daughter-in-laws) are with each other. This indicates
Go out from the ark,
- your sons, and
- your sonsĘ wives with you.
Upon leaving the ark the couples (Noah and his wife, Noah's sons
and his daughter-in-laws) are together. This indicates a cessation
of the abstention.
The above explanation by alignment is the traditional explanation
of this Rashi. However an advanced Rashi technique uses multiple methods to
prove a point. In this case we can find further support for Rashi
from verse Gn11-10 which states
These are the generations of Shem; Shem was a hundred years old,
and fathered Arphaxad two years after the flood;
We see that Shem, Noah's eldest son, did not have any children till two years
after the flood, supporting the idea that there was abstention in the ark.
This example nicely illustrates the value of using
multiple methods in explaining a single Rashi.
The reason for the abstention is that it shows a symbolic affirmation of
empathy with the suffering of the world. It is not right to enjoy oneself
with one's spouse while the world is suffering. It is interesting that this
symbolic affirmation is found in Jewish law which prohibits relations during
fasts for tragedies that befall the Jewish community. Thus we see here how
Noah contributed to Jewish law.