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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parashas Naso

Last week we asked (Parashas Bamidbar) what Rashi meant to tell us by his brief enigmatic comment to Numbers 1:17 on the words "And Moses and Aaron took these men who were designated by name." Rashi says: "These men": These twelve princes who were designated here by name.

Our answer is:

The previous time, before this verse, where the Torah refers to the princes of the tribes is in Exodus 35:27 There it says that the princes brought the stones for the ephod and the choshen mishpat. In them were inscribed the names of the twelve tribes.

We gave a hint to look at Rashi's comment on Exodus 28:10. There Rashi tells us who the twelve tribes were who were inscribed in the stones in the High Priest's ephod. He names them. Did you notice a difference between those twelve tribes and the twelve tribes listed here?
Of course you did (Right?). On the stones of the ephod the tribe of Levi was included while the tribes of Ephraim and Menashe were excluded. We can reasonably assume that the princes who brought these stones were the princes of these twelve tribes. So, it turns out that the twelve princes enumerated here in Bamidbar were not the same princes referred to earlier. That is Rashi's point. He is stressing that these men, THESE PRINCES, and not those princes in Exodus. Therefore the Torah does not say just "Moses...took THEM" as we would have expected, but it rather states explicitly "THESE MEN WHO WERE DESIGNATED by NAME." Because these princes are designated by name while those in Exodus were never designated by name (Rashi just tells which tribes they came from). The Torah itself here (not just Rashi) stresses this because this is the first time that Menashe and Ephraim take their place among the twelve tribes. This necessarily must push one tribe out (because there can only be a total of twelve tribes). Levi is the tribe excluded as the Torah itself stresses and repeats three different times in this chapter. See 1:47 "But the Levites...were not numbered among them." Again in verse 1:49; and again in verse 2:33.

This I believe is the point of Rashi enigmatic comment.

Now to this week's sedra:

Parashas Naso

Numbers 5:6,7

Speak to the Children of Israel: when a man or a woman shall do any of these sins against man to act deceitfully against Hashem and that person incurred guilt (Hebrew: "v'ashmah"). Then they shall confess their sin which they have done and he shall restore that wherein he is guilty together with the principal thereof, and add to it its fifth and give it to whom he is guilty (Hebrew: "l'asher asham lo").

RASHI on the Torah's words : "To whom he is guilty": RASHI: to whom he owes the money."

Questioning Rashi

What would you ask here?
Your Question:

A Question: What has Rashi told us? Isn't he telling us exactly what the Torah verse says?
Think about it. If you have an answer you can email me. Or just hold tight, until next week.

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