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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parashas Terumah

This week's sedra is the first of five sedros which describe the building and materials of the Tabernacle the Mishkan.

Below is a very difficult Rashi comment.

Exodus 25:16

And you put in the ark the testimony which I shall give you.


the testimony: Rashi: The Torah, which is the testimony between Me and you which I have commanded you the commandments which are written in it.


Rashi is saying that the "testimony" which was placed in the ark was the Torah.


That is quite surprising, since the usual understanding is that "testimony"' here means the Tablets that Moses received at Sinai.

In fact, Rashi himself says that "testimony" means the Tablets. See Rashi in parashas Pikudie, chapter 40:20. There he says this refers to the Tablets!

The difficulty has stumped all the commentaries on Rashi.


Some answers have been suggested.

There is a Midrash in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai that "testimony" refers to the Torah. He cites the verse in Deuteronomy 4:45 were "eidos" ("testimony" refers to the Torah. The Tablets have also been called the Torah in the Talmud (Shabbos 87a).

So Rashi's idea has some support, but it is strange that in one place he says "eidos" means "Tablets" and in another he says it refers to "Torah".

One explanation for that is that our verse says: " the testimony which I shall give you" in future tense. So Hashem is telling Moses that he will give him a testimony to put in the ark. And in fact in Deuteronomy (31:26) it says to take the sefer Torah and put it on the side of the ark. And Rashi says one opinion is to put it inside the ark. So in the future the Torah will be in the ark. But verse in verse 40:20 says Moses put the testimony in the ark. That must be the Tablets because that was all he had at that time. So there is no contradiction between the two Rashi-comments.

Perhaps this explains the puzzling Rashi.

Shabbat Shalom
Avigdor Bonchek "What's Bothering Rashi?" is a product of the Institute for the Study of Rashi and Early Commentaries. All 5 volumes on What's Bothering Rashi? are available in Jewish book stores.

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