by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek
Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues
Parashas Bechukosie (71)Leviticus 25:6
And I will give peace in the land and you will lie down and none will make you tremble, and I will rid evil beasts from the land and a neither will a sword pass through your land.
And I will give peace: Rashi: Maybe you will say: We have food, we have drink But if there is no peace, we have nothing! Scripture therefore states after all these things "and I will give peace in the land" From this we learn that peace is equal to all other things and likewise it says "He makes and creates everything (based on Isaiah 45:7)
A Question: Why does Rashi present this verse as answering a question (We have food.. but if there is no peace there is nothing)? Why not accept it as one more blessing?
Can you see what is bothering Rashi?
WHAT IS BOTHERING RASHI?
An Answer: It has been pointed out (by the Divrei Dovid and the Gur Aryeh) that these words - And I will give peace - appear out of place. The verses before speak of the blessings of produce then there is a break of several verses ( beginning with our verse ) that speak of peace, then in verse ten the Torah returns to eating the produce ('and you will eat the stored up produce of former years'). The question is: why is the blessing of peace inserted here and not left for the end?
Rashi's comment relates to this.
An Answer: By placing this verse about peace in the midst of other blessings, it is as if the Torah is imitating a conversation. The person begins talking about some blessings then he suddenly stops himself as realizes that all the blessings would be worthless is there is no peace. So he interrupts himself and mentions the importance of peace as a sine quo non for enjoying any blessing.
A Question: Rashi continues and concludes: "From this we learn that peace is equal to all other things" On what basis does Rashi draw this conclusion?
A FULLER UNDERSTANDING
An Answer: Since the Torah mentions the blessing of peace in the middle of the other blessings and does not wait until the end to mention it, it is as if it were saying "Wait, I cannot continue with these blessings before I mention something even more important! - the achievement of peace"
Another simple, realistic explanation is that in truth that is the way it is. No earthly pleasure can really be enjoyed if one is living in the hell of war - that is without peace.
Rashi seems to quote a verse in the book of Isaiah. There in 45:7 it says: "Who forms light and creates darkness; Who makes peace and creates evil:; I am Hashem Maker of all these."
So the verse actually says "Who creates evil" and not as Rashi has it "creates everything." Why does Rashi change the words? Your Answer:
An Answer: The reader may remember that Rashi has quoted words from the morning prayer after Yishtabach; the blessing on the Lights says "Who makes peace and creates everything." So just as the prayer book (based on the Sages) changes the words to avoid saying something negative (creates evil) so too Rashi prefers the all-inclusive word "everything" to the negative word "evil."
A CLOSING WORD ABOUT PEACE
I think it appropriate to note the Sages' obsession with Peace. The Mishna ends on the note of peace. The last mishna of the last Tractate - Uktzin- says;
Says Rav Shimon ben Halafta: The Holy One could not find a vessel that preserved a blessing for Israel better that Peace. As it says "Hashem gives his people strength; Hashem blesses His people with Peace." (Psalms 29:11)
Our central Prayer, the Amida, ends with the blessing for Peace.
Clearly Hashem sees his People Israel as a Partner for Peace!
"What's Bothering Rashi?" is produced by the Institute for the Study of Rashi and Early Commentaries. The five volume set of "What's Bothering Rashi?" is available at all Judaica bookstores.
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
For information on subscriptions, archives, and