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  • Shabbat and Holidays
  • Sefer Bereshit

Adam Harishon


Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Cheshvan 2, 5781
Why Adam didn’t name the fishes? Thanks for the reply. Shmuel
ב"ה Shalom, Before I answer, I will compound your question with others. Why is it that when the Torah enumerates the animals and birds that are kosher they are called by name, while the kosher fish are identified by fins and scales but not by name? Also, as we approach reading the portion of Noach, we will notice that no fish were brought upon the ark for preservation. Why Not? Some answers have been offered by the early commentators of the Torah and the Talmud. The Redak (Bereshit 2:19) says that the fish were not given names, simply because they live in the water and only animals that could come before Adam on land were given names. Similarly, we find in the Ba'al Haturim Vayikra 11:8, and Chizkuni Vayikra 11:12, that people didn't give names to fish since being under water they are not revealed to the eyes of man. Tosafot to the Talmud in Chullin (66b) suggest that the fish were given names and the names are alluded to in the verse: "And all that Adam shall call…"(Bereshit 2:19) . Tosafot see the word "Vechol"= And all" as a superfluous word which comes to teach us that also fish were given names. The Aruch Hashulchan (who lived hundreds of years after these prior commentators) to Yoreh De'ah 83: 8, mentions that in the Talmud Chullin 63B it says that (according to the criteria of the Rabbis in the Talmud) there are 700 types of non-kosher fish and the number of kosher fish is even greater, therefore the Torah did not name the kosher fish nor the non-kosher fish. The Talmud explains there that the general trend of the Torah is to enumerate the species which are lesser in number, and since the number of fish is so great, the names of the fish were not written at all. I wish to add to these answers, a Chassidic- Kabblistic perspective, which touches upon all the unique aspects of fish as portrayed in the Torah. According to Rav Tzadok Hacohen of Lublin zt"l (Pri Tzaddik Vaykhel 3, Emor 6) the fish did not benefit from the Tree of Knowledge neither did they die in the flood. Also, as opposed to other animals, they do not require slaughtering, their blood is not forbidden, neither do they have prohibitions to other body parts. This somewhat indicates, that fish are at some higher spiritual level, since they did not sin not in regard to the Tree of Knowledge nor in the time of Noach. The fish do not require a spiritual correction as the other animals did, it is also for this reason that there is a custom to eat fish on Shabbat because this is a time when we try to rectify the spiritual downfall the Garden of Eden. Based upon this, other Rabbis have explained that the idea of a name represents an identity, and this identity is the basis which man has to rectify. Since Man and animals sinned, they have names and need to change themselves spiritually. However, since the fish did not participate in Adam's sin nor did they take part in the sins prior to the flood, they do need to be rectified and therefore they were not given names. All the best
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