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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Bamidbar 15:39

And it shall be for you for tzitzis and you shall see it and you shall remember all the commandments of Hashem and do them and you shall not spy ('lo sasuru') after your heart and after your eyes after which you stray.


And you shall not spy after your heart: Rashi: [the word sasuru'] is similar in meaning to the word 'mitur' in 'from spying (mitur) out the land. ' The heart and the eyes are 'spies' for the body procuring sins for it. The eye sees, the heart desires and the body commits the sin.

What is Rashi Saying

There are two parts to this Rashi-comment. The first part tells us the derivation and meaning of a word "sasuru" ('you shall spy'). Rashi refers back to this word when it was used previously used in our Parasha in the story of the spies when they came back from "spying ('mitur' same root) the land." The second part tells us a psychological lesson and moral warning about how we are seduced into sinning.

What would you ask about Rashi's choice of word to teach us the meaning of "lo sasuru"?

Questioning Rashi

A Question: In the story of the spies the root 'tur' (to spy) is used no less than a dozen times. Of this list of twelve times, Rashi chooses the fifth use of the term on which to base his comment.


Why not the first use of this term; why not the last? Why this one?

Note: Whenever Rashi compares a word in a verse to another word elsewhere in Tanach, there is a reason for his particular choice of word.

Hint: Look at the context of the word he chooses.

Your Answer:

Understanding Rashi

An Answer: The word Rashi choose is found in verse. 13:25 "They returned from spying out ('mitur') the land at the end of forty days." It was this point that their mission turns sour. It was at this point that we begin to see that their spying out the land was for negative motives. Soon after this they begin their negative report about the Land.

The word 'to search' or 'to spy' can have either positive or negative connotations. Moses sent the spies on a positive mission; it was they that turned it into something negative and ultimately self-destructive. It would seem that Rashi's search was not just philological, not the only to know the derivation of the word 'sasuru', it was also to find the moral equivalent to the meaning of the word our chapter about tzizis. Our verse says in effect: Don't search out, for negative motives, after your heart etc. Rashi thus choose the first use of the word "tur" in the story of the spies that serves this purpose.

Shabbat Shalom

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