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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parashas Emor (71)

Leviticus 22:21, 22

Rashi's sensitive ear alerts us to a difficulty.

21) A man who brings a peace offering to Hashem because of a vow he made or as a free will offering from the cattle or the flock, it shall be without blemish, to find favor, there shall be no blemish in it.

22) One that is blind or broken or with a split eyelid or a wart or a dry skin eruption or a moist skin eruption, you shall not offer these to Hashem. And you shall not burn them on the altar for Hashem.


22) Blind: Rashi: This is a noun meaning the blemish of blindness, in the feminine form. "[A blemish] shall not be in it" (the end of the previous verse) a blemish of blindness.

or broken: Rashi: Should not be.


A Question: What is Rashi telling us with this brief comment on the words "or broken"? It seems quite unnecessary.

There is a subtle grammatical point, not easy to catch.

Hint: It is connected to the previous comment.

What's bothering Rashi?

Your Answer:


An Answer: The word broken (Hebrew: "shavur") is an adjective. (describing the animal). The word "broken" does not fit smoothly with the words (at the end of the previous verse) "no blemish in it." Broken cannot be "in it". The animal is broken; it is not broken in it.

Rashi tries to make sense of this poor fit.

How does he do that?

Your Answer:


Caution: Get ready for some dry grammar!

An Answer: Note Rashi's previous comment. There he points out that the word "averess" is a noun (now best translated as "blindness") and it fits with the last words of the previous verse "no blemish in it." As if to say there is no blindness in the animal. Rashi is saying the word "averess" (in English translation) means "blindness" not blind. He must say this because translating the Hebrew word "averess" as "blind" means it also is an adjective, and that would not fit with the words "no blemish in it." You cannot say "There is no blind in it"! It doesn't sound correct. Instead (by making "averess" a noun) meaning "blindness" you can say it has no blindness.

With this in mind we see the subtlety of Rashi's comment. In Rashi's comment on the word "blind" he links it up with the Torah's words "[A blemish] shall not be in it" But in his comment on "broken" he says only "It should not be" , leaving out the words "in it" (Hebrew: "bo"). He has to tell us this, so we won't be bothered by the poor fit it would make if we connected it with the words from the previous verse "[A blemish] shall not be in it". He is telling us to understand our this word ("shavur") in our verse without connecting it to the previous verse.

This interpretation of Rashi's comments is the Mizrachi's, the famous Rashi commentator.

This seems to be Rashi's point. The close reasoning it takes to understand Rashi's point indicates how sensitive he was to nuances in grammar.

Shabbat Shalom
Avigdor Bonchek

"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.

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