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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parashas Mishpatim (70)

This week's sedra is an important compilation of laws, mainly Between Man and Man. If one wants to get a close up picture of the Torah's righteous laws, this sedra is a good introduction. There also laws Between Man and G-d in the sedra. The following verse is one of those. The Rashi-comment is not from the fascinating ones, but it must be understood.

Exodus 23:17

Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord, Hashem.


All your males: Rashi: The males in you. (Hebrew: hazcharim sh'bach")

This a strange comment. It is not really clear what Rashi is teaching us; he seems to say what the verse says.

The truth is the Rashi has to be seen in the Hebrew. The verse says (transliterated): "yera'eh kol z'churchach es pcnei haAdon, Hashem" The words kol z'curchach are a problem. Because "z'curchach" literally translates to "your male", in the singular.

Now the word kol means "all". So this would mean (literally) "all your male"! That doesn't sound right at all. The commentaries give as an example, if it would say son (not male) How would "all your son" sound? It should be "all your sons".


An Answer: In Rashi's comment he uses the word "hazcharim" which is in the plural. So he changes the singular to the plural which solves the problem, because now it sounds right "All the males in you."


But the question is: How can Rashi make this change? On what authority does he do it?

Can you explain this?

Your Answer:


An Answer: In Biblical Hebrew, as in other languages, a term in the singular may be used for a whole class of objects. The classic example of this is in Genesis 32:6 where Jacob says to Esau "I have acquired ox and donkey…." when he really means "oxen and donkeys" but, as Rashi says there, it is common to use the singular noun to mean many of the objects referred to.

So here too. Rashi's brief comment is to answer the question we stated above: The word "all" does not fit with the singular word "your male". Not it reads "All your males". In his comment Rashi adds the words "in you" to make it clear that it refers to the complete congregation of Israel.

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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