by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek
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Parashas Shelach (70)This week's sedra tells of the episode of the spies and the result of their sin - condemning the nation to 40 years wandering in the wilderness before being allowed to enter the Land of Canaan.
And Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran, according to the word of Hashem; all men (Hebrew: "anashim"), heads of the Children of Israel were they.
all men (Hebrew: "anashim"): Rashi: All language of "anashim" in Scripture is a term of importance; at that point in time (i.e. before their evil report) they were upright men.
Can think of a question on this comment?
A Question: Is every mention of the word "anashim" (men) in the Torah , in fact, important (worthy) men? What about the people of Sodom about whom it says: "And the men (ha'anashim") who were at the entrance of the house were stricken with blindness. (Genesis 19:11). This refers to the evil residents of Sodom, yet it uses the term "ha'anashim"! This is but one example of many. So how could Rashi claim the term always refers to worthy people?
A second question is: Why didn't Rashi make this comment earlier on the previous verse were it says: "Send for yourself men ("anashim")" ?
Can you suggest an answer to these difficult questions?
An Answer: What Rashi seems to be saying is that when the word anashim" is used unnecessarily, as a in our verse, "And Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran, according to the word of Hashem; all men (Hebrew: "anashim"), heads of the Children of Israel were they." - it means they were special men. That is why the word "men" is stressed (repeated).
The word "men" could be left out with no loss: See this: " And Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran, according to the word of Hashem; all……heads of the Children of Israel were they." In such a case the "anashim" is used to dignify them. But here they weren't dignified, they were evil speaking spies. So Rashi answers: At the time they were chosen for their job they were in fact worthy men.
This explanation also answers why Rashi didn't comment on the word "anashim" in the previous verse; there the word was necessary to the basic meaning of the verse and it was not unnecessary.
"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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