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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parashas Shelach (71)

Numbers 13:3

And Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran, according to the word of Hashem; they were, all of them, men, heads of the Children of Israel.


all of them, men : Rashi: All [uses of the word] men (Hebrew: anashim) in the Scriptures means [men of] importance. At that time they were 'kosher' (i.e. righteous)

A brief Rashi. What can you ask on it?

The Mizrach asks one question which implies a second question.

Your Question(s).


A Question: Rashi explains the word 'anashim' in our verse. Why didn't he explain it in the verse before this one - there it says "Send for yourself men ('anashim')?

Also in the story of the evil people in Sodom it uses the word 'anashim' a few times referring to these evil men! ( See Genesis 19:3 "the men of Sodom' and "and the men who were in the entrance' 19:11) Were they also 'important' people? Can you think of answer?

Do you see a difference between the use of 'anashim' in our verse and its use in the other verses?

Your Answer:


An Answer: When the word 'anashim' is used as an adjective to describe men who have already been described, then it comes to tell us they are important people. The easiest way to analyze this is to see if the verse would be missing anything if 'anashim' were missing.

Our verse says: "they were, all of them, men, heads of the Children of Israel." Let us eliminate the word and see what happens. Then we have:

"they were, all heads of the Children of Israel." Nothing missing, right?

Now let us see the previous verse: "Send forth men and they will spy out the Landů" Let us remove 'anashim' here: "Send forth and they will spy out the Landů" That makes no sense! The word 'anashim' is necessary here. So whenever it is redundant then Rashi tells us it means they were important men; otherwise it is not to be interpreted.

A simple, clear, lesson in Torah interpretation.

Shabbat Shalom
Avigdor Bonchek

"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.

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