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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parashas Eikev (67)

This week's sedra continues Moses' moral injunction oration to the people, it contains the second paragraph of the Shema; he stress the main elements of the service of G-d. It also teaches the Jews ready to enter the Land what their attitude should be.

Rashi shows us the importance of careful analysis of the Torah's words.

Deut. 9:4, 5

4) Do not say in your heart when Hashem pushes them away from before you, saying, "Because of my righteousness did Hashem bring me to possess this Land and because of the wickedness of these nations did Hashem drive them away from before you. 5) Not because of your righteousness and the rightness of your heart are you coming to possess their Land but because of the wickedness of theses nations does Hashem , your G-d, drive them away from before you.


Don't say in your heart: Rashi: My righteousness and the wickedness of the nations caused.


Rashi is telling us that the verse says that we are not to think that both our righteousness and the nation's wickedness caused us to conquer the Land of Canaan.

What would you ask about this comment?

Your Question:


Rashi's interpretation appears to be as we would have understood this verse on our own. What has he added? Why did he see the need to comment here at all?

What is bothering him?

Your Answer:


An Answer: When we examine this verse closely it seems to say two separate things, two separate causes with two separate outcomes.

1) "Don't think that your righteousness (cause) allowed you to possess this land. (outcome)

2) "Don't think that the wickedness of the gentiles (cause) allowed you to dispossess them." (outcome)

But this can't be its meaning. Why not?

Because the very next verse says that it was, in fact, the wickedness of the gentiles that caused them to be expelled. Does not verse 5 say "because of the wickedness of these nations Hashem, your G-d, is driving them out before you" etc. ?

But this is what #2) above told us not to think.

This is what is bothering Rashi.

How does his brief comment deal with this?

Your Answer:


An Answer: Rashi's comment disabuses us of the idea that one cause lead to one result. This is an incorrect reading of these verses. Rather, the verse is telling us that Moses says we are not to think that both of these factors are the cause of both of these results. It was not our righteous together with the gentiles' wickedness that lead to their expulsion. It was their wickedness alone that caused them to be expelled from the Holy Land. Israel's righteousness was not a factor at all. And that is because Israel was not righteous.

Moses warns the People about another mistaken assumption. It is that the righteousness of Israel entitled them to possess the Land. This too was not so. Not their righteousness entitled them to the Land, (for that generation was not righteous, as verse 6 says) but rather their rights to Land were due to G-d's promise to the Forefathers.


The Torah actually foretells this condition in Genesis. When G-d makes His "Covenant Between the Pieces" with Abraham, He explains the connection between the sins of the inhabitants and their expulsion. In Genesis 15:15 we read:

"And the fourth generation shall return here, because the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete."

We see that until the sin of the Amorites was complete, until their conduct in the Land of Canaan was so evil that the Land could no longer tolerate them, then and only then could the offspring of Abraham inherit the Land. Their evil ways together with G-d's promise to Abraham, were the necessary and sufficient conditions for Israel to take possession of the Land.


Again we see Rashi's perspicacious eye and his sensitivity to important subtleties.

The message of Rashi should be uppermost in our minds as we contemplate our present day situation in Israel.

Shabbat Shalom
Avigdor Bonchek

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

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