by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek
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Jerusalem and Am Yisroel suffered more tragedies this week. Lost were Dr David Applebaum and his young daughter Nava who was to be married the day after she was brutally murdered. This is dedicated to them and Aliyas Nishmatam. May Am Yisrael be spared further tragedies.
It is particularly appropriate because we beseach Hashem to bless us and guard us in our "goings in and goings out."
Rashi’s close reading and clear thinking help us understand the verse.
Blessed are you in your coming, blessed are you in your going out.
"Blessed are you in your coming in, and blessed are you in your going out" Rashi: Your leaving this world should be without sin as was your entry into this world.
Rashi abandons the Simple Meaning of the verse – that a person will blessed when he enters his home as when he leaves it – and exchanges it for a more spiritual concept. As Rashi sees it “coming in and going out” refers to being born and to dying.
A Question: Why does Rashi take the verse out of its Simple Meaning? Remember, when Rashi cites a midrash as interpretation of a verse, we can safely assume that some anomaly in the verse lead him to it.
Do you see what is bothering him?
Hint: Notice the order of the words here.
WHAT IS BOTHERING RASHI?
An Answer: The verse starts with coming in and ends with going out. Ordinarily a person begins by going out (of his home) and only latter “comes in”(some examples: Numbers 27:16, and Deut. 31:2) This reversed order is what caught Rashi’s eye.
How does Rashi’s comment rectify matters?
An Answer: True that most “comings in” precede most “goings out” in this world. The one glaring exception is being born and dying. A person first “comes into” this world, when he is born, and then, after 120 years, he leaves (“goes out of”) this world. So Rashi chose this case to fit the order of the words in our verse. Once this was established, he sought to turn it into a blessing. The meaning then became: that his leaving,(when he dies) should be without sin as was his entry (when born) into this world.
A DEEPER QUESTION
A Question: The Mizrachi, who suggested the above answer, then poses a question: What can we say about verse 19 where it says:
àøåø àúä ááàê åàøåø àúä áöàúê
'Arur Atoh B'voacha V'arur Atoh B'tzaischa'
“Cursed are you in your going in and cursed are you in your going out.”
Here, too, we have “coming in” before “going out” but here it is a curse. If the person came into the world without sin, how can we explain this verse, which is a curse?
Can you think of an answer?
A DEEPER UNDESTANDING
An Answer: It can be explained as follows. Granted the person came into this world without sin, as we said above, but he also came in without merit. So the curse would be, that just as a person came into the world without merit, so too he will leave the world without merit. Having lived here a lifetime and not having acquired any merits, could certainly be considered a curse.
Another explanation given is that when an evil person dies, people curse the day he was born. So just as he will be cursed “in his going out” so too will he be cursed “in his coming in.”
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This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
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