by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek
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And Moshe could not enter the Tent of Appointment because the cloud rested on it and the glory of Hashem filled the Mishkan.
And Moshe could not enter the Tent of Appointment: Rashi: but another verse says (Bamidbar 7:89) "And when Moshe came into the Tent of Appointment" (which implies that Moshe could come into the Tent), then comes the third verse and decides between them –"when the cloud rested on it ." That is to say, any time the cloud rested on it Moshe could not enter but if the cloud removed itself then he could enter and He spoke with him.
WHAT IS RASHI SAYING?
This is one of the thirteen principles of interpretation of Rav Yishmael. When two verses seem to contradict each other a third verse can resolve the apparent contradiction.
But as you read the whole verse what would you ask?
A Question: When we read our verse from beginning to end there is no contradiction at all. Rashi has constructed a "contradiction" by arbitrarily splitting our verse in two. Ignoring the second half and then using it to resolve the "contradiction." But had we read the whole verse, as we usually do, we would not have seen a contradiction.
Can you answer this question?
An Answer: We can understand Rashi when we realize that the Hebrew word λι has several meanings. 1) When ("When ((λι Pharaoh's horse and chariot came into the sea (Shemos 5:19). It can also mean because as in "And Sarah denied saying I did not laugh Because ( λι ) she was afraid (Bereishis 18:15).
With this in mind we can now try to answer our question. At first reading, it says "And Moshe could not enter the Tent of Appointment Because the cloud rested on it.." This implies that the cloud resting on it was a permanent feature of the Tent with the cloud on it. If so Moshe could never enter it. Then we come to the verse in Bamidbar which says "When Moshe entered the Tent.." So we see he did enter it. We then go back to our verse in Shemos and re-read it. Now we see its correct meaning "Moshe could not enter the Tent when (λι ) the cloud was resting on it…" but when there was no cloud on it he could enter.
Now our apparent contradiction is resolved.
Avigdor Bonchek has published a new book on Rashi called "Rashi: The Magic and the Mystery" published by Gefen. Look for it at Jewish book stores.
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
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