(a) Why does a Nochri prefer the animals that belong specifically to a Jew?
Why should there be any difference between animals owned by a Jew and
animals owned by a Nochri? Since the animals did not receive the Torah, all
animals should be the same with regard to Zuhama!
(b) The Chachamim teach that the Zuhama of the Nachash was removed from the
Jewish people when the Torah was given at Har Sinai. The Rishonim (TOSFOS
CHOCHMEI ANGLIYA, KOLBO (Perush on the Hagadah), TASHBATZ (Avos 3:18))
explain that this is what is meant in the Hagadah of Pesach, "Had Hashem
brought us to Har Sinai without giving us the Torah, it would have been
enough." What would we have gained by being brought to Har Sinai without
receiving the Torah? The answer is that standing at Har Sinai, even without
receiving the Torah, would have accomplished the removal of the Zuhama.
How are we to understand this Zuhama that overcame Chavah due to her
interaction with the Nachash, and how was it removed at Har Sinai?
(a) It seems from the words of TOSFOS CHOCHMEI ANGLIYA that he understands
that the Gemara mentions the animal of a Jew only because the Nochri stays
away from his own animal, because he does not want to cause it to become
(b) The CHASDEI DAVID (Tosefta 3:1, cited by the SEDER YAKOV) explains that
"Zuhama" refers to a heightened level of lust. The Nochri is so overcome
with lust that he desires even animals.
Why, then, does the Gemara say that the Nochri *prefers* the animal to his
wife? Perhaps it is because of the principle mentioned in the Gemara in
Nedarim (91b) of "Mayim Genuvim Yimtaku" (Mishlei 9:17) -- taking what one
is not allowed to have provides more physical pleasure.
When the Jewish people stood at Har Sinai and Hashem revealed Himself to
them, the awe of Hashem weakened their lusts, making their lusts more
controllable, and that is how their Zuhama was removed.
The RAMBAM (Moreh Nevuchim 2:30), based on the Midrash, explains that it was
not the Nachash that seduced Chavah, but rather it was the Satan who "rode"
upon the Nachash who seduced Chavah. This is what the Chachamim mean when
they say that the Nachash seduced Chavah and infused her with Zuhama, which
remained in her descendants until the Jewish people stood at Har Sinai, and
this is what the verse means when it says that the man overcomes the Nachash
by crushing its *head*, and the Nachash overcomes man by biting his *heel*.
What does the Rambam mean by this? The heel alludes to the lowliest and most
mundane part of the person (see Tosfos to Nazir 51a, DH Rekev). The Satan
seduces a person by attracting him through his physical lusts and desires
for worldly pleasures. Man, in turn, must use his head to overcome these
lusts. The way that man conquers the Satan is by crushing Satan by his head.
The head of the Satan refers to arrogance, which arouses within a person his
physical lusts (see Zevachim 88b, which says that the Mitznefes worn upon
the head atones for arrogance, and the Tzitz worn upon the forehead atones
for brazenness). A man's heel, which represents his lowliness and mundane
qualities, can be used for his benefit or for his detriment. If he allows
the arrogance of the Satan to fill himself with lust for worldly pleasures,
it will bring his downfall. If, on the other hand, his lowliness arouses
within himself a sense of modesty and humility in front of the Creator,
through this he will be able to overcome the attempts of the Nachash to
seduce him and crush his arrogance. (See Berachos 5a, which says that
remembering the day of death will help a person to avoid sin.)
The Rambam adds that the word "Satan" and the word "Nachash" allude to the
qualities of the Satan. Perhaps he means that "Nachash" is related to the
word "Nechoshes" (see Rashi to Bamidbar 21:9) which is a metal which
represents arrogance and brazenness, as we find in the verse, "u'Metzchacha
Nechushah" (Yeshayah 48:4).
We know that Amalek is referred to as "Reishis Goyim" (Bamidbar 24:20)
because they are like the head of the Nachash; they are the most arrogant of
the nations who try to arouse the other nations to sin. That is why they
must be destroyed, just as man must crush the head of the Nachash in order
to overcome the Satan.
The Zuhama of the Nachash was removed from the Jewish people when Hashem
appeared to us at Har Sinai. According to the Gemara in Nedarim (20a), we
learn from the verse (Shemos 20:17) that the purpose of Hashem's revelation
to the Jewish people at Sinai was in order that they should acquire the
trait of bashfulness, which would guarantee their humility and prevent them
from sinning. This is what cured the arrogance that the Nachash infused in
(See also TZAFNAS PANE'ACH, end of Hilchos Terumos, at length.)