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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parashas Vayakhel 5768

Another of those short interspersed comments. Here we see Rashi's ingenious subtly and his sensitivity to the Torah's every word. We must also be sensitive to every word in Rashi!

Exodus 39:32

And all the work of the Tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting, was completed and the Children of Israel did everything that Hashem had commanded Moses, so they did.


And the Children of Israel did: Rashi: the work according to all that Hashem commanded etc.

What is Rashi Saying?

Rashi adds just the two words, "the work." He is telling us that the Israelites did the work (of the Tabernacle). You certainly have a question on this comment!

Your Question:

Questioning Rashi

A Question: What has Rashi told us that we didn't know before? The verse is clearly telling us that the Children of Israel did the work. That is what the first half of the verse says, "And all the work of the Tabernacle was finished..." What is Rashi adding to our understanding? Notice that this comment has the Type II style, meaning there is a possible misunderstanding here.

What misunderstanding?

Hint: There is also a problem here which is bothering Rashi. See the whole verse.

Your Answer:

What is Bothering Rashi?

What Misunderstanding?

An Answer: Did you notice that the word "to do" is repeated in this verse?

"And the Children of Israel did all that Hashem commanded Moses, so they did."

This repetition of "so they did" is what is bothering Rashi.

How does his comment solve this redundancy problem?

Your Answer:

Understanding Rashi

An Answer: By adding the words "the work" Rashi deftly accomplishes two things.

First he clarifies a possible misunderstanding. He tells us that the word "Vaya'asu" means "to make" and not "to do." They made the work (meaning, the Tabernacle and its vessels ).

Secondly, he shows us that there is no repetition here. The verse is to be read as two separate clauses. It now reads "And the Children of Israel made (the Tabernacle). Just as Hashem had commanded Moses so they did."

A Closer Look

Rashi adds the words "the work," in Hebrew "es hamelacha" in his comment.

Do you have a question here?

Hint: Compare these words of Rashi to the words in the beginning of this verse.

What do you see? Do you see anything strange?

Your Answer:

An Answer: The Torah uses the words "avodas hamishkan" meaning "the work of the Tabernacle." Rashi, on the other hand, uses the words "es hamelacha" "the work."

Why does Rashi say "melacha" when the Torah says "avodah" ?

This is really a subtle point. Can you get it?

Hint: See verses 39: 42-43 There it says:

"As everything that Hashem commanded Moses, so the Children of Israel did all the work ("ha'avodah"). And Moses saw the entire work ("melacha") and behold! they had done it as Hashem had commanded, so they did...."

Your Answer:

A Better Understanding

An Answer: Though most English translations translate both these words - "avodah" and "melacha" as "work," this is imprecise. The word "avodah" means "work" in the sense of labor or toil. It is an activity. The word "melacha" on the other hand, means the product of that labor; an artifact created. This is how the words are used in verses 39:42-43.

In view of our understanding of Rashi's comment, i.e. that he is telling us that the word "vaya'asu" means "they made," (and not "they did") then the word "melacha" is appropriate and not the word "avodah.".

One makes an artifact, and one does work. But one does not do an artifact, nor does one make labor.

A Lesson

Rashi's verbal precision is amazing; his choice of words must always be an object of close scrutiny.

Shabbat Shalom
Avigdor Bonchek

What's Bothering Rashi?" is a production of "The Institute for the Study of Rashi."

The five volume set of "What's Bothering Rashi?" and the Megillas Esther volume can be purchased thru Feldheim on line at Feldheim.com

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