When the Jewish farmer brings his first fruits to the Temple in Jerusalem he makes the following statement:
And you shall say before Hashem your G-d: I have cleared out the holy from my house and I have also given it to the Levite and the stranger and the orphan and widow as all Your commandments which you have commanded me. I have not transgressed Your commandments neither have I forgotten.
Neither have I forgotten: Rashi: To bless You on the occasion of giving the tithes.
The source of Rashi's comment is a mishneh in Masser Sheni (5:11).
A Question: Why does Rashi comment here and on what basis does he draw the particular conclusion that one has to make a blessing on separating tithes?
Can you see what's bothering him?
Hint: Read the whole verse.
WHAT IS BOTHERING RASHI?
An Answer: The words "I have not forgotten" are both unclear (what hasn't he forgotten?) and also seem to be redundant. The latter part of our verse says "[I have done] according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me. I have not transgressed Your commandments, neither have I forgotten.
After the person proclaims that he has done all that G-d commanded him without transgressing His commands, what need is there to say any more? What could the words "neither have I forgotten" possibly add?
This is what is bothering Rashi.
How does his comment deal with this?
An Answer: One may do all the mitzvahs precisely according to the halacha, yet miss the essence of things. We must not lose sight of the ultimate goal of mitzvahs. The commandments are from G-d and their spiritual goal is to direct us back to G-d. At times, being preoccupied with the details of a mitzvah, one may forget its essence. In our verse Rashi tells us that this person makes clear that he has not forgotten the essence - he has remembered Him, Who has given him his plentiful harvest and has remembered to thank Him for it.
We have explained Rashi's interpretation above, but it cannot be considered p'shat.
Can you think of a p'shat interpretation of the words "and I have not forgotten"?
A P'shat Interpretation
An Answer: The Nachlas Yaakov, a commentary on Rashi, suggests a very simple explanation for the inclusion of the words "and I have not forgotten." He says that the words "I have not transgressed Your commandments" mean I have not intentionally transgressed any mitzvah while "and I have not forgotten" means that I have not even unintentionally transgressed. This makes perfect sense, for "forgetting" means an unintentional sin of omission, an unintentional transgression of G-d's commandments. With this quite reasonable interpretation we are reminded once again of the rule that no Torah verse ever losses it's p'shat sense.
A DEEPER LOOK
We find a rarely noticed consistency in the Torah. When the Torah describes the blessings of the Land that are to redound to the Israel's benefit, we almost invariably find immediately afterwards warnings of forgetting Hashem. See the following examples of this connection:
"And you will eat and you will be satisfied, then you shall bless Hashem your G-d for the good Land which He has given you."
The very next verse says:
Take heed lest you forget Hashem, your G-d" etc.
"Lest you will eat and be full and build good houses….and silver and gold will multiply for you…and your pride increases and you forget Hashem, your G-d…"
"And I will provide rains of your land…and you will harvest your grain…and you will eat and be satisfied. Be careful for yourselves lest your heart mislead you and you turn away and serve other gods."
And in Deut. 28:47
"Since you did not serve Hashem, your G-d, with joy and good heartedness, when you had all the good."
And again in Deut. 32:15
"And Yeshurun grew fat (i.e. blessed with plentitude) and kicked (i.e. rebelled against G-d.)" etc.
Clearly, the blessings of plentitude are a two-edged sword. In addition to their blessing they also carry within them a potential risk of forgetting the source of all blessings. Forgetting G-d, it would seem, is an occupational hazard of receiving His bounty. Therefore the Torah constantly stresses that once we have received His blessings we should be mindful not to forget the source of this goodness; not to forget Hashem, Himself, Who has "given us the strength to make our wealth".
We can now understand, as Rashi did, that the words in our verse "neither have I forgotten" refer to remembering Hashem and thanking Him with a blessing.
What’s Bothering Rashi?” is produced by the “Institute for the Study of Rashi.”
The Devarim volume of "What's Bothering Rashi?" is now out and should be at your Jewish bookstore. Ask for it. This volume features Rashi and the Ba'alie Tosafos.