by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek
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Parashas Pinchas (70)This week's sedra deals with Pinchas' reward, receiving the priesthood, a census of the people after the plague, how the Land was to be divided to the tribes, the pleas of the daughters of Tzelafchad to receive a portion, and the offerings on the holy days.
Therefore say: Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace.
My covenant of peace: Rashi: That it should be for him a covenant of peace. Like a man who shows his gratitude and friendship to one who has done him a kindness. Likewise here the Holy One, blessed be He, expressed to him His peaceful (fond) feelings.
This seems like a simple, straightforward, comment, what would you ask on it?
A Question: Rashi adds the words "That it should be for him". Why?
What's bothering him here?
Another question: Why does Rashi go on to say: "Like a man who shows his gratitude and friendship to one who has done him a kindness. Likewise here the Holy One, blessed be He, expressed to him His peaceful feelings."
Why does he add this?
WHAT IS BOTHERING RASHI?
An Answer: The Hebrew has "brisi shalom" which would seem to mean: "My covenant of peace". But to make the phrase possessive (My covenant) it should have said in Hebrew "es bris shlomi" (as in "raiach nichochi" - My fragrant smell."
(Numbers 28:2). This is what Rashi is commenting on.
How does his adding the words "That it should be for him" take care of this?
An Answer: Rashi is separating the two words, 'My covenant' from the words 'of peace.' Rashi is telling us these words should be read as "My covenant, a covenant of peace." In this way he sidesteps the problem of 'brisi" in the possessive form being connected with the word 'shalom' (which as we noted above, is incorrect Hebrew.)
Rashi then continues by mentioning a man who feels gratitude to one who does him kindness - he wants to express his feelings of peace and love outwardly. These words explain the first words in the verse: "Therefore say;" Rashi tells that these words tell us that G-d wants Moses to say - proclaim - publicly what Pinchas did. This proclamation itself is a sign of G-d's gratitude to Pinchas. Not only was G-d rewarding his act of bravery but He also was announcing it publicly.
This comment deals with two implicit questions. Foremost, the grammatical difficulty of a possessive noun (brisi) attached to an adjective (shalom). Secondly, what is the meaning of "Therefore say". The "saying" is part of the reward and indicates the degree of G-d's gratitude to Pinchas.
"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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