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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parshas Va'eira

Exodus 6:3, 4

6:3) And I appeared to Abraham, Isaac and to Jacob as Almighty G-d but My name Hashem I did not make known to them.

6:4) And also I established My covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their sojourning, where they lived as strangers.


And also I established My covenant etc. Rashi: Also when I made Myself appear to them as the Almighty G-d I established and set up My covenant between Myself and them.

Note: The following Rashi looks quite simple. So simple, that one could ask: What is Rashi adding ? What is he telling us that we don't already know from reading these verses?

This is a subtle point, which shows us Rashi's sensitivity to what every word in the Torah says and implies.

Can you see what's bothering Rashi?

What Is Bothering Rashi?

An Answer: Our verse says "and also I established My covenant" What does the word "also" mean here? "Also" always adds to something previously mentioned. But - Rashi is implicitly asking - what was mentioned immediately before this was "but My name Hashem I did not make known to them." This is a negative statement. You cannot say "also" to a negative . It's as if someone said "I cannot lend you my drill but I can also lend you my hammer." It doesn't make sense. How does Rashi's comment deal with this?

Hint: Look carefully at Rashi's words.

Your Answer:

Understanding Rashi

An Answer: Rashi deliberately connects our verse with the FIRST part of the previous verse. There it says "And I appeared to Abraham" etc. This is a positive phrase and one could add to it an "also" This is what Rashi does when he says "when I made Myself appear them." He deliberately skipped over the last part of the previous verse, because it was a negative statement. By our verse with the positive part of the earlier verse, Rashi has justified the use of the word "also" here.

This is typical of Rashi. He has avoided a difficulty without ever telling us what that difficulty is. He doesn't do this in order to make trouble for us. He does this simply because he took it for granted that we too would be bothered by what bothered him. In this case - the odd use of the word "also." Sometimes Rashi gives us more credit than we deserve!

Shabbat Shalom
Avigdor Bonchek

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

The Institute is in the process of preparing the fourth hard copy volume of "What's Bothering Rashi?" Readers interested in sponsoring a sedra in this volume are encouraged to contact us for further details at msbonch@mscc.huji.ac.il

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