by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek
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Rashi gently guides us away
from a misunderstanding
In the Tent of Meeting, outside the partition that is near the Testimonial tablets, Aaron and his sons shall arrange it from evening until morning, before Hashem an eternal decree for their generations from the Children of Israel.
From evening to morning. Rashi: Give it its due measure so that it will burn from evening to morning. Our Sages estimated a half log [sufficient] for the nights of Teveth which are long, and [the same] for every night and if any was left over it did not matter.
The first part of Rashi's statement seems to be a Type II comment. Notice how he just adds a few words ( "Give it its due measure so it will burn") which he inserts them into the Torah text ("from evening to morning"). This means that his comment is meant to steer us clear of a possible misunderstanding.
A Possible Misunderstanding
An Answer: The verse says "Aaron and his sons shall arrange it from evening until morning etc." Does this mean they should spend the whole night, from evening until morning, arranging the lights?
An Answer: Rashi alerts to the fact that the Hebrew word "ya'aroch" in our verse has two possible meanings. It can mean either "to arrange" as in "Shulchan Aruch" an arranged table. Or it can mean "to estimate" as in " the priest shall estimate its value whether it is good or bad; as the priest estimates its value "ya'arich oso" so shall it be established. (Leviticus 27:14)"
Rashi has chosen the second meaning "to estimate." He says "give it its due measure so that it will burn from evening until morning. The Sages estimated etc." In this way Rashi deftly avoids the misunderstanding. The priests do not arrange it from evening until morning, rather they estimate how much oil is necessary to burn from evening until morning.
At first glance this Rashi-comment seems to be strictly informative, telling us how much oil was used in the candelabrum. But sensitivity to Rashi's style makes us aware that Rashi never just informs. When we search, we find that his comment is meant to clarify something about the Torah's words themselves.