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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parashas Bereishis (5762)

With parashas Bereishis, we begin a new cycle of Torah study. The year we are about to begin is an historic one. It has begun with a world-wide war. The battle being waged is no less than one of the forces of good pitted against the forces of evil. This most basic life and death encounter has placed the people of Israel and the Holy City of Jerusalem in the eye of the tornado. The first Rashi comment in the Torah, on the first verse of this week's sedra, has always been considered an auspicious one. We can only say that this year it is probably more meaning laden than it has ever been since Rashi wrote it 900 years ago. As we look at this Rashi-comment and study Torah, may G-d enable us to be strengthened spiritually, morally, psychologically and physically to bear the weighty burden that is being thrust upon us at these awesome times.

For this week's devar Torah, we analyze another Rashi-comment.

Genesis 3:8

And they heard the sound of Hashem going through the Garden at the wind of the day. And the man and his wife hid themselves from the face of Hashem G-d in the midst of the Garden.

I have chosen the following Rashi-comment, because it is known as Rashi's first and fullest mention of his goal and agenda in his Torah commentary.


And they heard: RASHI: There are many midrashic explanations and our Rabbis have already ordered them in their appropriate place in Bereishis Rabbah and in other midrashim. I, however, have only come [to explain] the Simple Meaning of the verse and such Aggadah that explain the words of the Scripture in a manner that fits in with them. And they heard: RASHI: What did they hear? They heard the sound of the Holy One, blessed be He, who was going in the Garden.


A Question: What has Rashi added to our understanding? What has he told other than what the verse itself says?

Hint: Is Rashi excluding a different interpretation of the words in this verse?

Your Answer:


An Answer: The meaning of the verse is not clear. What was "going in the Garden" ? The Hebrew can be read in one of two different ways.

1) They heard the sound of G-d, who was going in the Garden. Meaning that it was G-d who was going in the Garden.

2) They heard the sound of G-d which was going in the Garden. Meaning it was the sound that was going in the Garden.

Which of these has Rashi chosen and why?

Your Answer:


An Answer: Rashi has chosen #1 above. It was G-d, not the sound, that was going in the Garden. The Hebrew word "mishalech" ("going") implies something self moving (auto motive), a sound doesn't move itself. G-d does.

In light of this interpretation we can understanding why Rashi introduces the comment by telling us that his commentary is intended to teach the Simple Meaning of the Scripture. When we check out the midrashim on this verse we see that they interpret the verse according to the second option above. That is, that it was the sound that was going. "Said Rabbi Chalfon: We learn from this verse that Sound can be going." While sound certainly does move and thus can be said to "go" somewhere. Yet, as we said, the Hebrew implies self movement, which sound does not have. This interpretation is a midrashic one and Rashi does not accept it as p'shat.

It is probably for this reason that Rashi told us about his preference for p'shat.

Shabbat Shalom
Avigdor Bonchek

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

The Institute is in the process of preparing the Devorim volume of "What's Bothering Rashi?" This volume will feature Rashi and the Ba'alie Tosephos. Readers interested in sponsoring a sedra in this volume are encouraged to contact us for further details at msbonch@mscc.huji.ac.il

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