by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek
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Parshios Behar/Bechukosi(69)This week's sedras are the last ones in the Book of Leviticus. Includes laws of Shemita & Bechukosi has the Reproof "Tochachah".
It shall be a Jubilee year, this fiftieth year; you shall not sow, you shall not harvest its after growth and you shall not pick what was set aside of it, for yourself
It shall be a Jubilee year, this fiftieth year: Rashi: What does this teach us? Since it says: "And you shall sanctify it", etc. As it is in Talmud Rosh Hashanah (8b) and in Toras Cohanim (3:1).
Can you see from his comment what the difficulty Rashi is referring to?
WHAT IS BOTHERING RASHI?
An Answer: Rashi, himself, actually tells us the difficulty with this verse. He refers to the words "And you shall sanctify it.." which is a quote from the previous verse (25:10). He is, in a sense, asking: Why the repetition? That verse tells us that the fiftieth year is special and so does our verse.
How does he answer this question?
A PUZZLING ANSWER
For the answer to this question Rashi refers us to the gemora and to the midrash.
All Rashi commentators quote the content of the midrash and the gemora. But they do not deal with something that, to my mind, is a puzzle.
Why doesn't Rashi give us the answer - as he always does? The answer is not so long and involved that he couldn't have told us what it is. Why does he refer us to the Talmud to find it? And why does he refer us both to the Talmud and the Midrash, which say essentially the same thing?
It is true that occasionally Rashi will refer us to a midrash without quoting it (See Korach, Numbers 15:1), but that is usually when the midrash is quite long. Not so in our case here. If Rashi thought it a reasonable approach to commentary, to refer the student to the midrash, he would have written a very different commentary - just a list of citations of places to look up!
I also wonder who in Rashi's day would have access to sefarim? Certainly books in Rashi's time, before the printing press, were a rarity and few, if any libraries, existed. So citing a Talmudic or midrashic source was of value only to a select few and Rashi's commentary was written for he masses. So it is a puzzle why Rashi would suffice with a citation.
I have no explanation.
Maybe someone out there does.
What's Bothering Rashi?" is a production of "The Institute for the Study of Rashi."
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
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