by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek
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Parashas Ki Savo (71)This week's sedra begins with the blessing the Jew makes when he brings his first fruits to the Temple in Jerusalem.
"And you will come to the Priest who will be in those days and you will say to him 'I have declared today to Hashem, your G-d, that I have come to the Land which Hashem had sworn to our Forefathers to give to us.' "
And you will say to him: Rashi: That you are not ungrateful.
The comment should lead you to ask …
A Question: How does Rashi derive this comment from these words?
Rashi has lifted this comment straight out of the midrash Sifrei. But he wouldn't have included it in his commentary if it weren't connected with the words of the Torah.
What is his reason for including it ?
Hint: Read the whole verse and see what the man who brings his first fruits goes on to say.
WHAT IS BOTHERING RASHI?
An Answer: If you read the verse you certainly saw that before he gives the new fruits to the Priest, he has said nothing of significance, at least no words of gratefulness. He says only that he has come to the Land that G-d promised, but that is quite apparent. Only later (verses 5-10) does he thank G-d for the land of milk and honey. So why, in these verses, does he say the obvious and only the obvious?
That is what Rashi is bothered by.
Can you now see the connection between these words and Rashi's comment?
Hint: See the very next words have declared today .
An Answer: Notice that the very next words which the man as says: "I have declared today…" in the past tense! But he has yet to declare anything. This is a clue.
The Hebrew word ìäâéã "to declare" does not necessarily mean to declare verbally. See , for example, these verses:
In Psalms 19:20:
"The works of His hands, the heavens declare."
This definitely is a non-verbal declaration.
See also II Samuel 19:7 where we are told that after David's rebellious son, Abshalom, dies, David publicly mourns his death. Then David's general, Yoav, (who fought Abshalom in order to save David's kingdom ) rebukes him saying:
"You have declared today that you have no officers or servants…"
Nowhere did David make such a declaration. What Yoav meant was that David's mourning behavior was, in effect, such a declaration.
We see from these examples that behavior also "speaks" and can make declarations. We know that 'actions speaks louder than words.' That is what is meant in our verse. The man has already brought his fruits to Jerusalem (therefore the past tense " I have (already) declared today." Bringing the fruits is the man's behavioral declaration that he has not only come to the Land, but that he has clearly benefited from living in the Land.
Rashi related to the words "and you will say to him" because what the man is about to say is evidence that he is not ungrateful. He says "I have declared already" meaning that his act of bringing the fruits all the way to Jerusalem (and not just by thanking G-d at home) is in and of itself, even without any other verbal declaration, an indication of his gratefulness to G-d.
"What's Bothering Rashi?" is produced by the Institute for the Study of Rashi and Early Commentaries. The five volume set of "What's Bothering Rashi?" is available at all Judaica bookstores.
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
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