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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parashas Vayigash (71)

The brothers met and recognized each other after many years of separation.

Genesis 45:14

And he fell on his brother Benjamin's neck and wept; and Benjamin wept on his neck.


And he fell on his brother Benjamin's neck: Rashi: [Cried] for the two Temples that were destined to be in the territory of Benjamin and were to be destroyed.

and Benjamin wept on his neck. Rashi:[cried] for the Mishkan in Shilo which was to be in the territory of Joseph and destined to be destroyed.


Rashi turns to drash. Why does he abandon p'shat here? What is bothering him?

Hint: Compare our verse to the next verse, 15.

Your Answer:


An Answer: Joseph also cried with his other brothers (in verse 15) but there no mention is made of "crying on his neck".

Rashi cites the midrash to deal with the fact that neck is mentioned here.

How does the midrash deal with this?

Your Answer?


An Answer: A verse in the Song of Songs (7:5) says "Your neck is like an ivory tower". There Rashi explains that 'tower' refers to the Temple and the Altar because they are 'upright and tall.' So here too in our verse the necks refer to the Temple and its predecessor the Mishkan.


Some understand Rashi's drash as based on the word "the neck of Benjamin" which is in Hebrew "tzavarei beyamin" where 'tzavarei" is in the plural. And thus it refers to the two Temples. But this is incorrect since the word "his neck" in Hebrew 'tzavariv" which refers to Joseph's neck later on in the verse, is also in the plural, yet the midrash says this refers to the one Mishkan!

And, in fact, Rashi himself in the Talmud (Megilla 16b) where this drash is brought, says explicitly that the word 'neck' (tzavar') is usually written in the plural and therefore this is no reason the make a drash out of it. The drash is based on the word "tzavarei" which, as we said, is a midrashic term for the Temple. Rashi mentions the two Temples in Benjamin's territory and the one Mishkan in Joseph's territory because that is what happened historically- two Temples were destroyed and one Mishkan was destroyed - sufficient reason to cry.

Shabbat Shalom
Avigdor Bonchek

"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.

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