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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parashat Korach

Bamidbar 16: 3

They gathered against Moses and against Aaron and said to them: "It is much for you! Because the whole assembly, all are holy and Hashem is in their midst; why then do you exalt yourselves over the assembly of Hashem?


"It is much for you! Rashi: You have taken too much prominence for yourselves.


Rashi is explaining the Hebrew word "rav". He says it is a noun meaning a lot or much.

The Hebrew word "rav" can be either a noun, as it is here or an adjective as in the phrase (Exodus 1:3) ":הנה, עם בני ישראל--רב ועצום, ממנו.. Behold the Nation Israel is great and stronger than we are." Here the word great (rav) describes Israel; it is an adjective.


But when we compare this Rashi-comment with his comment on verse 7 on the words of Moses to Korach

רב לכם בני לוי


It is too much for sons of Levi: Rashi: A great matter have you taken on yourselves - to argue with the Holy One.

Here Rashi translates the word "rav" as an adjective ( a great matter).


A Question: Why does Rashi change his translation of this word in the two verses?

Your Answer


An Answer: Each verse has to be seen in its context. In verse three, Korach complains to Moses. What is he complaining about? His complaint is that though Moses may be entitled to his position since he went up on Mt. Sinai, but them Mosses gave the high Priesthood to his brother and he gave to Elitzafan son of Uzial to be prince of the Kehas Levites. Korach felt he should have come before Elitzafan.

So, in short, he was complaining that Moses took too much for himself and his close relatives.

In verse 7 Moses is speaking to Korach. His main point is that Korach's argument is with G-d, not with Moses. It was G-d who told Moses who to appoint. So in this verse Moses is saying; It is a great matter to argue with Hashem. The word 'rav" is here an adjective.

The lesson: We must always take into consideration the context in order to better understand subtleties in the Torah.

Shabbat Shalom
Avigdor Bonchek "What's Bothering Rashi?" is a product of the Institute for the Study of Rashi and Early Commentaries. All 5 volumes on What's Bothering Rashi? are available in Jewish book stores.

Avigdor Bonchek is publishing a new book on Rashi entitled "Rashi: The Magic & the Mystery" It covers Rashi's biography and rules for in-depth understanding of Rashi's commentary. We are looking for contributors to dedicate this volume. Those interested, please contact Avigdor Bonchek at Drbonchek@gmail.com

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