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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parashas Bo 5767

This week's sedra continues the story of the plagues - the last three. It includes the laws of the Passover sacrifice, which was prepared and eaten just before the People left Egypt.

Exodus 12:21

"And Moses called to all the Elders of Israel and said to them "Draw out and take for yourself a lamb according your families and slaughter the Passover (offering)."


Draw out: Rashi: He who has sheep let him draw from his own.

And take: Rashi: He who has not let me take (buy) in the market.


An Answer: It is Rashi's custom in commentary to analyze any duplication of terms, even if the words are different as long as their meaning seems to be similar The question he implicitly asks is: Why the need for two verbs ("Draw out and take"), which have more or less the same meaning?

How does his comments deal with the apparent duplication?

Your Answer:


An Answer: Rashi says the two verbs refer to two different situations:

1) When a person has his own lamb, he draws it from his flock for the sacrifice

2) Where he doesn't own a lamb and must buy (i.e. 'take' - the Hebrew word "kach' means both take and in Talmudic language "buy") one in the market.

That this is not the only reasonable interpretation can be seen when we look at the Ramban's interpretation of these words.


The Ramban interprets these two verbs as follows:

"It could be that he said 'Draw' (i.e. pull, drag, shlep) since their sheep were very distant from them in the land of Goshen since sheep sheppards were an abomination for Egypt. Then it says "Take for yourselves into your families (i.e. homes) each man his sheep etc."

Can you since the difference in interpretive approach between Rashi & Ramban?

Your Answer:


An Answer: Rashi sees the two verbs as referring to two different individual cases while the Ramban connects them and sees them as referring to the same case but in different stages.

Do you see another difference between them in their translation of a word in this verse?

Your Answer:


An Answer: The letter "Vav' in Hebrew which connects the two verbs ("U'k'chu"), Rashi 's meaning is "or" while the Ramban's is "and." The "vav" has more meanings than "and". See "Honor your father and your mother." Here the "vav" does not mean "and" it means "or" since the obligation is not towards the pair "mother and father" but rather to each of them separately.


The Sages interpret - drash - these two verbs as follows: "Draw you hand from idol worship (sacrifices) and take a sacrifice for a mitzvah." The Torah Temima mentions an interesting point in this regard. He points out that the Rambam (Maimonides) offered a controversial explanation for our sacrifices in the Temple. He says they were instituted in order to wean the Israelites away from their habit of sacrificing to idols. This interpretation drew a lot of fire, particularly from the Ramban. He said the sacrifices have an intrinsic spiritual meaning and to say they were just a substitute for idol sacrifices degrades and distorts the spiritual significance of the sacrifices.

Yet the Torah Temima says the Rambam is supported by the Sages' interpretation here. He also point to a verse in Vayikra 17:7 "So they should no longer slaughter their offerings to the demons after whom they stray..." which says this idea explicitly.


We have two p'shat interpretations of our verse and one drash interpretation. The Torah is like " a rock, which the hammer smashes" meaning it has many meanings, all which give us new insights.

Shabbat Shalom,
Avigdor Bonchek

"What's Bothering Rashi?" is a production of "The Institute for the Study of Rashi." The 5 Volume set is available at all Jewish bookstores.

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