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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parashas Nitzavim-Vayelech

Last week (Parashas Ki Savo) we asked about the Rashi on Deuteronomy 28:46-47.

After the "Tochacha" (Curse), the Torah says:

46. "They (the curses) will be to you as a sign and a wonder and to your descendants forever.

47. Because you did not serve Hashem, your G-d, in gladness and goodness of heart when everything was abundant.


46. When everything was abundant. ("Merov kol") : RASHI: While you had all good things.

Question: Why is this comment necessary? In what way is Rashi enlightening us with this comment? Notice this is brief comment and that is a clue that this is a Type II comment (See "What's Bothering Rashi?" Feldheim publishers, Breishis volume, introduction). That means that Rashi is commenting in order to help us avoid a misunderstanding. What misunderstanding would I have made were it not for this comment?

Your Answer:

Rashi is telling us that the Hebrew letter "mem" in the word "merov" does not mean "from" that is, that you did not serve Hashem BECAUSE of your having everything. Rather it means "you did not serve Hashem WHILE you had everything."

The question is: How does Rashi know that this interpretation is correct?

Before we try to answer this let us look at another question: What does this verse mean?
Does the word "tachas" mean (as it is often interpreted to mean) "because" - because you did not serve Hashem in gladness and goodness of heart - then the curse will come upon you? This would mean that perhaps they did serve Hashem, but they didn't serve Him in gladness. Therefore the curse came upon them. But this is really strange - would such a horrendous curse be fair punishment for not serving Hashem in joy! even if they did serve him but in apathy?

No. That can't be the meaning. The meaning can be understood when we read the following verse. "Then you will serve your enemies whom Hashem will send against you, in hunger and in thirst....without anything..." The meaning is: Since you didn't serve G-d when you had everything, then your punishment will be to serve your enemies when you have nothing!

Now we can understand that Rashi chose his interpretation of Merov kol to be "WHILE you had everything" because this fits best with the correct interpretation of the verse. To prove this meaning of "merov kol" we must compare it with its parallel in the next verse: "you will serve your enemies "without anything" this is parallel to "Because you did not serve Hashem...with (while) you had everything..." The fact that the two verses are parallel but opposites gives us the clue to the correct meaning of "tachas" in our verse.

Parashios Nitzavim-Vayelech

After that difficult question from last week, let's take an easy one.

Deuteronomy 29:14: "Not with you alone do I seal this covenant and this imprecation. But with whoever is here, standing with us today before Hashem our G-d and with whoever is not here with us today."


"And whoever is not here": RASHI: and even with generations that are destined to be [born].

This is somewhat of a mystical interpretation. Why does Rashi interpret the verse this way? Why not say simply "those that are here physically now and those that are not physically present" ?
Your answer:

Next week IY"H we will suggest an answer.

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