by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek
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Parashas Vayeira (71)In this week's sedra the story of Lot and the angels is told. The angels come to Lot in Sodom and are invited in to his home. When they are there the angry citizens of Sodom surround the house are demand that they be released into their custody so that they could "Sodomize" them. We find the following verses and Rashi.
19:9, 10. 11
9) And they said: "Get away" and they said: "The one has come to dwell with us and he acts as judge ! Now you are worse than they are." And they pressured the man, Lot, very much; and they drew near to break the door.
10) And the men stretched out their hand and brought Lot to themselves into the house and they closed the door.
11) And the mean who they smote with blindness from small to great, were in the opening of the house, AND they tired themselves to find the door .
Before we begin the analysis of the following Rashi, I would like to make a point about the importance and significance of AN in-depth reading of Rashi. Many people would read the following Rashi about doors and openings and be satisfied that they understood it. They would understand that Rashi is explaining what a door is and what an opening is. But this would miss the whole point of the Rashi, because Rashi does not to come to explain irrelevant matters. What difference does it make how a door works or what an opeing is? Only by questioning Rashi's comment can we come to understand what motivated him to comment and what the significance of the comment is.
Now let us proceed.
10) : The door: Rashi: That which turns to lock and to open it.
11) The opening: The space through which people enter and leave.
What would you ask on these Rashi-comments?
An Answer: What is Rashi telling us and why is this information about doors and openings important?
Another question is: If this information is important why didn't Rashi tell us this on verse 9 when "door" is first mentioned?
What is bothering Rashi?
This is a subtle Rashi-comment, think it through.
WHAT IS BOTHERING RASHI ?
An Answer: Ordinarily I would think that the "opening" was the place where the door was when it was closed; it filled the opening. There was an opening and there was a door. The door closed and the "opening" disappeared, so to speak.
But if this is the case then there is a difficulty: The verse says he closed the door yet the next verse says there were men "in the opening". If the door was close then there would be no "opening" for the men to stand in.
This is the difficulty Rashi is dealing with.
How do his comments explain matters?
An Answer: Rashi tells us that that there were two different parts to the house. First there was the door which (as we also know it) revolved on its hinges. Then there was an opening - a vestibule - an area before the door itself where people gathered to enter the house. (We too have such open hallways before the door.). Therefore, Rashi says, the "opening" is not the opening of the door. It is a separate area before the door itself, it is an entrance. So there is no contradiction to have men in the "opening" even though the door is closed.
It is for this reason that Rashi commented here and not on verse 9 where "door" is also mentioned. On that verse there was no difficulty. Only when we come to our verse do we have a difficulty that is the reason he commented here - to explain the difficulty.
"What's Bothering Rashi?" is produced by the Institute for the Study of Rashi and Early Commentaries. The five volume set of "What's Bothering Rashi?" is available at all Judaica bookstores.
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
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