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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parashas Masei(68)

This week's sedra is the final sedra in the book of Numbers. It tells of the 42 journeys and encampments the Children of Israel traveled during their 40 years in the wilderness. It also records Aaron's death, delineates the Torah's borders for the land of Israel; the laws of the cities of refuge; and the issue of the marriage Tzlafchad's daughters within their fathers tribe.

Numbers 33:52,53

52: And you must drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you. You must destroy all their carved stones, and destroy all their molten idols and demolish all their altars.

53: And you will drive out [the inhabitants of] the land and settle in it, because to you have I given the land to possess it.


33;53: And you will drive out [the inhabitants of] the land: Rashi: And you will drive out - dispossess - it of its inhabitants, and then 'you will settle it" - you be able to remain in it, otherwise you will not be able to remain in it.

Can you see why Rashi made this comment?

Hint: See the verse above this verse.

Your Answer:


An Answer: Our verse repeats the same words as are found in verse 52. "And you must drive out the inhabitants..." The meaning of the two phrases appears to be the same so why the repetition?

How is Rashi's comment an answer?

Your Answer:


An Answer: Rashi actually interprets the two similar phrases differently. (I have followed that in my translation of the verses.) Since they're repeated he figured that they can't mean the exact same thing - otherwise why the repetition? The first phrase (33:52) was the command to drive the people out. The second was a statement ("You will drive out" etc.). It is a statement, which tells us what will happen if Israel drives out the lands inhabitants - then (and only then) will they be able to settle and live in the land. Otherwise - if the inhabitants remain, we will be in trouble. See verses 55 & 56.


I brought this Rashi for a particular reason. The comment itself is not very difficult to understand. But its message is difficult to accept and to implement. I write these words from Jerusalem after several weeks of terror attacks within the city by Muslims who were residents of the city. Of course, Israel has experienced terror for decades. And even non-native terrorists are usually from the areas nearby. The inevitable as predicted by the Torah has - is - happening to us here. What is the alternative?

I had better stop before I become too politically incorrect.

Let us pray for better times. Let us pray that Hashem overlooks the country's (too) many corrupt behaviors and graces us with some honest to goodness peace and quite. Not the peace of false prophets but a just peace that we - all Jews - should begin to earn the right to.

Shabbat Shalom
Avigdor Bonchek

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

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