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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parashas Tzav (64)

This week's sedra continues with the laws of the sacrifices in the Temple ( and the Mishkan).

The following verse teaches us about the offering that a person brings when he wants to thank Hashem for a special kindness he received from Him.

Leviticus 7:12

"If he brings it as a thanksgiving offering, he shall bring along with the feast thanksgiving offering unleavened loaves mixed with oil, unleavened wafers smeared with oil and loaves of scalded fine flour mixed with oil."


If he brings it as a thanksgiving offering : Rashi: If regarding a thanksgiving for a miracle that was done for him, such as the seafarers or those who travel the deserts or those incarcerated in prison or a sick person who was healed [they] must give thanks for it is written regarding them (Psalms 107) "Let them thank Hashem for His kindness and His wonders for mankind. And let sacrifice thanksgiving offerings." [Rashi continues, but this is enough for our purposes]


Rashi tells us that the thanksgiving offering referred to in our verse is to be brought by anyone who was saved from four different dangerous situations. He enumerates them. The verse he quotes from Psalms is from the 107th chapter which speaks directly of these four situations and prescribes the person to thank G-d when he is saved.

But there is a serious problem here. See the four cases in Psalms. We find 1) getting lost in the desert (107:4); 2) being imprisoned (107:10); 3) Those ill (107:18); and 4) seafarers (107:23).

Compare this list and order with Rashi's. What do you find?

Your Question:


A Question: Rashi's order differs from that in Psalms. Compare;

Rashi has: 1) Seafarers; 2) desert wanderers; 3) prisoners; & 4) the sick person. As you see this is not the order in chapter 107. Why did Rashi change the order from that found in Psalms? Psalms was after all Rashi's source here. He knew Psalms (he wrote a commentary on it!) and he also quotes a verse from that chapter.

Why, Oh! why did Rashi mix up the order?

Is there method to his mix-up?

Hint: Look closely at the verses in Psalms and see the verse that Rashi quotes

Your Answer:


An Answer: There is something strange about the words in this Psalm. Each of the four cases is followed by an identical verse "Let them thank Hashem for His kindness and His wonders for mankind." But one is different. Only after the one who is ill does it add "And let them sacrifice thanksgiving offerings and tell of His works in joyful song." This is the verse that Rashi quotes. And why does he? Obviously because Rashi wants to connect these four cases of G-d's help with the fact that we have to bring a sacrifice as part of our show of gratitude. That's what our verse is speaking about, after all. Bringing a thanksgiving sacrifice.

Since Rashi wanted to link up the case of salvation with the verse "And let them sacrifice thanksgiving offerings" he ended his list of cases with the ill person, where this verse is found in Psalms. He then moved Seafarers (last on Psalm list ) to the head of the list, since it had to be inserted somewhere.

Rashi's sensitivity to the verse and it's meaning is amazing!


If you look over the four listed by Rashi, one stands out as different. Can you spot it?

Your Answer:


An Answer: Of these cases all are in the plural from ("seafarers") except the one who is ill.

Why is that ?

Can you think of a plausible explanation?

Your Answer:

Good Luck!

Shabbat Shalom & a Chag KosherV'Somayach,

Avigdor Bonchek

"What's Bothering Rashi?" is a product of the Institute for the Study of Rashi and Early Commentaries. The Rashi Institute is preparing a new, original volume of What's Bothering Rashi? We are in need of sponsors for this project. For those interested please write us and we will supply the details.

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