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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Deut. 26:2

And you shall take of the first fruits of all the fruit of the ground which you shall bring from the land which Hashem you G-d has given you and you shall put it in a basket and you shall go to the place which Hashem your G-d shall choose to place His name there.


Of the first : Rashi: But not all the first, as not all fruits are subject to the first obligation but only the seven species. The phrase here is "the land" and the phrase there "A land of wheat barley, etc. (Deut.8:8). Just as the reference there is to the seven species by which Eretz Yisoel is extolled, so, too, is the reference here to the extollment of Eretz Yisroel, meaning the seven species.

Honey: Rashi: This is date honey.

Of the first: Rashi: When a man enters his field and notices a fig that ripens he wraps a string around it as sign and says 'This is firstfruits.'


There are several questions one could ask about the Rashi-comments on this verse. Which questions would you ask?

Some Questions: Rashi has two different comments on the same word 'Of the first' (Meireishis). How do they differ in their interpretation of this word?

An Answer: The first comment focuses on the letter "mem" meaning "from" or "of" the first - but not all. Rashi frequently points out that the function of the letter "mem" before a noun is to diminish from it. Some, but not all.

The second comment interprets the "mem" differently. Here it means, "from when it is a first fruit." That is, at soon as it ripens the owner marks it as a bona fide first fruit. If Rashi comments twice on the same word, why does Rashi separate the two comments ?

These two comments are separated by comments on the words "Olive oil" and "honey." This is a problem for another reason. Can see why?

An Answer: These words do not appear in this verse at all. So, we ask, why does Rashi comment on them here?

Can you think of an answer?

Your Answer:

An Answer: Rashi, in his first comment makes mention of the seven species - seven fruits. But when we check the original verse (in Deut. 8:8) we see honey mentioned - which usually refers to bees honey. That would mean that there are only six fruit species. So Rashi had to explain that this honey is from dates, the seventh fruit.

Another question that could arise is that verse 8:8 says "olive, oil" I might think these are two separate species which would make the number of species, eight. Therefore Rashi tell us that in fact "zais shemen" is one species - olives which much oil stored in them. So there are exactly seven species.

After clarifying that, Rashi returns to explain in a different way the word "meireishis" "of the first."

Shabbat Shalom,

Avigdor Bonchek

These Rashi analyses are a production of the Institute for the Study of Rashi and Early Torah Commentaries.

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