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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parashas Bechukosai (73)

Rashi helps us understand the meaning of a strange word

Leviticus 26:11

And I will set My Sanctuary among you and My spirit will not loathe you.


And My spirit will not loathe you: Rashi: My spirit will not abhor you. Every expression of "g'eilah" (in Hebrew: rejection) means expelling a substance that was absorbed in something ; as in the verse "for there the shield of the mighty was expelled" [this means] that it [the shield] did not absorb the oiling. They would oil their leather shields with boiled fat so the arrow's blow would slip off, so as not to pierce the skin of the shield.


Rashi explains the meaning of the word "tigole" (loathe). It means more precisely to reject - expel - something that had been absorbed into something else. (We do "hagalas keilim" to expel the meat, milk or chametz from cooking utensils.)


The Ramban ask an obvious question on the meaning of our verse (not on Rashi's comment).

Read the verse. What would you ask?

Hint: This verse and the previous ones refer to the G-d's response to the Jews when they observe His Torah.

Your Question:


Ramban's Question: What kind of promise is this to Israel that when they follow G-d's mitzvot, He will not loathe them?! This is quite strange. One would have expected a more positive reward; something more than achieving the minimal promise that G-d will not loathe them!

Can you think of an explanation?

Hint: See Rashi on verse 26:30 on the words "And My spirit will loathe you".

Your Answer:


An Answer: Our verse begins with "And I will place My Mishkan in your midst."

The next verse says: " I will walk among you, I will be a G-d to you and you will be a people to me." On the words in verse 26:30 "And My spirit will loathe you", Rashi comments: "My Shechina (the Holy Spirit) will leave you." We see that losing G-d's closeness is Rashi's idea of "ge'ul."


The Ramban points out that having our produce blessed and that all the earthly blessings promised would come as a result of following G-d's commandments is an unnatural matter. In short, it is a miracle, albeit a hidden miracle. A miracle which we might not notice and which we might take for granted - but a miracle nevertheless. When events in the physical word are being directly influenced by spiritual acts of Israel it is not a normal occurrence - it is a miracle. This is a result of G-d being in our midst - "Walking among you" as the verse says. No other nation has the blessing or promise.

We can now better understand the meaning of G-d "not loathing" us if we do His mitzvot.

The meaning - as Rashi helps us understand - is not that G-d will not loathe us actually but rather that G-d's spirit will not expel us. "Expel" is the correct meaning of the Hebrew word "yigal" and not 'loathe'. The meaning would seem to be the following:


When we follow His commands and live the upright life, as a nation, G-d will be among us - He will be with us and we with Him. We will be united. We will be part & parcel of His spirit and He will not expel us from the unification. He will not place us in the world, as all other peoples, subject to nature's whims. All this is a special and unique blessing. Being part and one with His spirit and not being expelled from His spirit is itself a supernatural blessing.

This may be what the verse means: "And (if you do the mitzvot) My spirit will not expel you."

Shabbat Shalom
Avigdor Bonchek "What's Bothering Rashi?" is a product of the Institute for the Study of Rashi and Early Commentaries. A Hebrew translation of the Bereishis "What's Bothering Rashi?" is published. It is greatly expanded and is call "L'omko shel Rashi" look for it in bookstores.

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