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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parshas Teruma

Exodus 25:21

And you shall place the kapores (cover) on the Ark from above and into the Ark you shall place the Testimony which I shall give to you."

Rashi: An unusual Rashi-comment. Rashi asks his question openly, which he hardly ever does and then he suggests his answer.

We would ask:

A Question: The order of things as described in our verse is: First put the cover on the Ark then put the Testimony inside. Rashi says just the opposite, that first the Testimony is placed in the Ark and only later is the cover placed on it. !


An Answer: If your answer is that verse 40:20 has the order in a way that supports Rashi, for it says, in effect, first place the Testimony in the Ark then place the cover on it, we would ask : Why should that verse be any more authoritative than our verse which says the opposite?

Hint: Look closely at the words in both verses.

Understanding Rashi

An Answer: Did you notice that our verse, in Hebrew, has the noun the Ark before the verb you shall place, while verse 25:16 has the verb you shall place when the noun comes before the verb the tense is the pluperfect, meaning that the action took place before the previously mentioned action. (See Rashi's comment to Genesis 4:1)

See that our verse says: And into the Ark (noun) you shall place (verb) the Testimony. The noun comes before the verb, meaning that this act (of placing the Testimony in the Ark) came before the previously mentioned action (And place the cover on the Ark). This is exactly as Rashi says. There is, therefore, no contradiction between the two verses.

This biblical grammatical rule, though not well known, can be crucial to a correct understanding of the Torahs meaning. See an obvious use of this rule in the case of Rachels hiding Lavan, her fathers, teraphim in Genesis 31:34. But an unusual and surprising implication of this rule can be found in Esaus sale of his birthrigth to Jacob. Look closely at Genesis 25:34 and you will arrive at a startling revelation. If you can't discover it yourself, see the Ksav VHakabalah.

A note to our readers: We are preparing to publish the Vayikra volume of What's Bothering Rashi? It will add another dimension to the study of Rashi - this time Rashi's creative use of the midrash. We are looking for sponsors of this volume to enable us to publish it. Contributions can be made in Memory of or in Honor of close ones. The previous volumes of "What's Bothering Rashi?" have been adopted for use in many schools and into many Jewish homes. Your sponsorship will make it possible to continue and enlarge this project. Those interested can write msbonch@mscc.huji.ac.il

Shabbat Shalom

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