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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parashas T'ruma 5768

This week's sedra speaks of the contributions to the building of the Mishkan and of the various holy objects that were to be placed in it.

Exodus 25:12

And you shall cast four gold rings and place them on its [the ark's] four corners, two rings on one side and two rings on the second side.


Its corners: Rashi: As the Targum has it: 'its corners". It was at the upper corners near the cover that they were placed. Two on one side, and two on the other, along the width of the ark.


Rashi first explains that the Hebrew word "pa'amosav" means "its corners". The word ordinarily is taken to mean "feet" (see Song of Songs 7:2) or "times" (see Numbers 22:28). But here it means corners. Then Rashi tells us that these rings, which held the poles, were placed close to the top of the Ark.


The Ramban agrees with Rashi's interpretation of the word "pa'amosav" that it means corners. But he doesn't understand why Rashi added that the poles were near the top of the Ark. That seems strange to the Ramban, because if the poles were on top & the Ark hung down from them, then the whole weight of the Ark (and it was heavy) would be under the poles, pulling them down. This could be too heavy for them and the rings. For this reason the Ramban says the poles were near the bottom of the Ark, not near the top. Also, says the Ramban, having the Ark hang down is not as regal as having it perched up on top as it was being carried.


The Ramban's reasoning seems cogent. Why then did Rashi think the poles were on the top? The Gur Aryeh (the Maharal) defends Rashi. He cites the Talmud (Yoma 54a), which says the Ark, which was housed in the Holy of Holies, had its poles pressing against the separation curtain (paroches) and jutting out "like the two breasts of a woman." So this implies the poles were high up, for if they were on the ground, as the Ramban claims, then they wouldn't jut out against the curtain, they would extend beyond the curtain, under it.


This difference of opinion between the Ramban and Rashi is characteristic of their different modes of Torah interpretation. Ramban searches for the common sense understanding ( closest to p'shat) while Rashi often follows the Talmudic Rabbis even at the expense of a simpler common sense interpretation.

Shabbat Shalom
Avigdor Bonchek

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

The five volume set of "What's Bothering Rashi?" and the Megillas Esther volume can be purchased thru Feldheim on line at Feldheim.com

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