I  HAVE  A  STUDY  ON  MY  WEBSITE  CALLED  "DO  WE  LOOK  TO  THE  JEWS  FOR  INTERPRETING  THE  BIBLE"

READ  THE  FOLLOWING  AND  I  WILL  ANSWER  -  Keith Hunt


Parashas Beha'aloscha

The Torah discusses the laws of a person who could not bring the Pascal offering because he was either ritually impure or because he was at a distance from the Mishkan (or in later generations from the Temple.). He is to offer his Passover sacrifice a month later, on the 14th of Iyar.

Numbers 9:10

"Speak to the Children of Israel saying: Any man of you or of your generations who will be impure or is on a distant way nevertheless, he shall bring the Passover sacrifice to Hashem."

RASHI

Or on a distant way: Rashi: There is a dot on the letter "heh" ( in the word "Rechoka' ("distant") which means that the letter is then regarded as non-existent) and this tells us that the Torah means that the way need not really be a distant one but merely outside the threshold of the forecourt during the time of the sacrificing of the Passover offering.

WHAT IS RASHI SAYING?

Rashi explains the meaning of the dot on top of the letter 'heh' in the word "rechoka" which we find in the Torah scroll. Whenever a word has one or more dots on the top it the Talmudic Sages interpret the significance of this strange phenomenon. The rule is that when the majority of the letters of a word have dots above them, then the meaning of just these letters is interpreted. When a minority of the letters of a word have the dots, then only the undotted letters are interpreted.

So in our case, only one letter is dotted, so it is dropped and the word is read without the letter. The word that remains is "Rachok" which also means "distant" but is the masculine form of the word.

Rashi tells us the significance of this. It teaches us that the words "a distant way" refer to a subjective distance and not an objective one. So the person need not actually be distant from the Temple to be excused from bringing the Pascal offering, as long as he is merely outside the entrance of the Temple he is excused, since that "distance" was far enough for him to be delayed in making the sacrifice. The journey itself was not distant; the man was.

UNDERSTANDING RASHI

The meaning of this interpretation is based on the fact that the Hebrew word "way " ("derech") is feminine while the word "Ish" ("man") is masculine. Therefore once the letter "heh" is dropped, the word "distant" becomes a masculine adjective and refers back to "man" and not to " way."

Considering the rules of dots on top of letters in the Torah this is a reasonable interpretation.

But for a deeper understanding let us look at the Midrashic source of Rashi's comment.

THE MIDRASHIC SOURCE

In the Tractate Pesachim (93a) we find a dispute between Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Eliezer on this issue. Rabbi Akiva says that the distance is as far as the town "Modiin." Which is about 15 miles from Jerusalem. While Rabbi Eliezer says (based on the dot interpretation) that the distance here is only beyond the threshold of the Temple entrance.

The problem is that Rashi has chosen Rabbi Eliezer's interpretation which is nether the law nor the closest to the simple meaning (p'shat) of the verse. Why would Rashi do that?

Can you think of an answer?

Your Answer:

A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING OF RASHI

An Answer: It would seem that Rabbi Akiva's simple interpretation of the word "rechoka" as objectively distant (until Modiim) would be the one that Rashi should have chosen for his commentary, sine Rashi prefers p'shat interpretations. But he does not choose Rabbi Akiva's interpretation because Rashi characteristically sees p'shat in a unique way. He sees p'shat through the eyes of the Sages. And since the Sages have a rule about interpreting words that have dots on top of them, then Rashi too bases his interpretation on this principle. So Rashi is left with the word "rachok" (without the letter "heh" at the end) which must refer to a masculine noun - that is to "man" and not to "way." This interpretation also finds some support in the Torah text itself. See verse 13 where it refers to way but does not mention the word "distant." This would support Rabbi Eliezer's view that the journey need not actually be "distant.".

So Rashi has chosen the p'shat interpretation considering the Sages' principle about interpreting the dots on top of letters in the Torah.

ANOTHER ANSWER

My Daughter, Elisheva, has suggested another answer to the question: Why did Rashi not choose rabbi Akiva's interpretation (distance means "until Modiim") since it seems closest to p'shat and since the hahlacha is like Rabbi Akiva.

Her answer is that the verse (9:10) says :" Any man of you or of your generations" ( see the complete verse above) . Now the distance of Modiim is about 15 miles from Jerusalem while the complete Camp of Israel in the wilderness was only 12 miles square (see Rashi in the book of Joshua). So the verse cannot possibly mean "until the distance of Modiim" as Rabbi Akiva said because Moses was speaking to "YOU" (meaning this GENERATION in the wilderness) and future generations." So this generation had no Jews living at that distance (15 miles) from the Mishkan! So even according to p'shat Rabbi Eliezer (who says beyond the entrance of the Mishkan) would seem to fit the verse better than Rabbi Akiva.

I think that's a brilliant answer, even I do say so myself!

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 Judaica bookstores.

...................


HIS  DAUGHTER  WAS  ON  THE  RIGHT  PATH.


IT  IS  A  JOKE  EVEN  AMONG  JEWS:  ASK  3  JEWS  A  QUESTION  AND  YOU'LL GET  3  DIFFERENT  ANSWERS.


THE  IDEA  OF  "INTERPRETING"  DOTS,  DASHES,  SQUIGGLES,  AND  WHATEVER  IN  HEBREW  LETTERS  IS  STRANGE  TO  PUT  IT  MILDLY,  AND  TO  PUT  IT  BLUNTLY:  CRAZY,  NUTTY,  ABSURD,  FANATICAL,  RIDICULOUS,  AND  JUST  BIZARRE. 


WHY?


WELL  IT  WOULD  MEAN  YOU'D  HAVE  TO  KNOW  HEBREW  FOR  STARTERS;  SECOND,  DIFFERENT  IDEAS  COULD  COME  FROM  DIFFERENT  PEOPLE  AS  TO  WHAT  THIS  DOT  MEANS,  OR  WHAT  TWO  DOTS  MEAN,  OR  THIS  SLIGHT  SQUIGGLE [BACK TO 3  JEWS  WITH  3  ANSWERS  TO  ONE  QUESTION].  THIRD,  IT  WOULD  MEAN  GOD  HAS  HIDDEN  THE  SECRETS  OF  UNDERSTANDING  THE  BIBLE  IN  A  KIND  OF  "CODE"  FORM,  AND  ONLY  THE  "LEARNED"  OF  THIS  CODE  COULD  UNDERSTAND  THE  OLD  TESTAMENT.


SUCH  A  THEOLOGY  IS  IN  THE  FANATIC  RANGE  OF  IDEAS.


GOD  HAS  NOT  WRITTEN  THE  BIBLE  IN  A  WAY  ONLY  "SCHOLARS"  OF  A  CERTAIN  CODE  THEOLOGY  CAN  UNDERSTAND  IT.


GOD  DID  INSPIRE  THE  BIBLE  TO  BE  WRITTEN  IN  HEBREW  AND  GREEK,  BUT  IT  WAS  THE  COMMON  HEBREW  AND  GREEK  OF  THE  TIMES;  NOT  SOME  "HIGHER  LEARNING"  HEBREW  AND  GREEK.  THEN  GOD  IN  THESE  LAST  "EX"  HUNDREDS  OF  YEARS  IN  THE  LATTER  END,  INSPIRED  THE  BIBLE  TO  BE  SENT  AROUND  THE  EARTH  IN  THE  ENGLISH  LANGUAGE.  HE  HAD  DOZENS  OF  SCHOLARS  IN  HEBREW  AND  GREEK,  IN  THE  TIME  OF  KING  JAMES,  TRANSLATE  THE  BIBLE  INTO  THE  ENGLISH  LANGUAGE.  THE  ENGLISH  LANGUAGE  HAS  BECOME  THE  UNIVERSAL  LANGUAGE  OF  THIS  ENTIRE  EARTH.


THE  KJV  TRANSLATORS  HAVE  GIVEN  THE  HEBREW  AND  GREEK  ABOUT  99  PERCENT  CORRECTLY  INTO  ENGLISH.  THE  1 %  IS  EASY  TO  PROVE  WRONG [SUCH  AS  "EASTER"  GIVEN  INSTEAD  OF  "PASSOVER"  IN  ACTS  12;  THE  GREEK  READS  "PASCHA" -  OTHER  ERRORS  ARE  TO  DO  WITH  PUNCTUATION - THERE  WAS  NO  PUNCTUATION  AT  ALL  IN  THE  HEBREW  AND  GREEK  MSS  OF  THE  BIBLE].


JESUS  SAID,  UNLESS  YOU  BECOME  AS  LITTLE  CHILDREN  YOU  CANNOT  ENTER  THE  KINGDOM  OF  GOD;  THE  MAIN  POINTS  OF  SALVATION  AND  THE  KINGDOM  OF  GOD  CAN  BE  UNDERSTOOD  BY  CHILDREN  OF  9,  10,  11  ETC.  THEN  TO  PASS  THE  MILK  STAGE  INTO  THE  MEAT,  YOU  "SEARCH  THE  SCRIPTURES"  AS  JESUS  SAID  TO  DO;  YOU  FIND  ALL  THE  VERSES  ON  ANY  GIVEN  SUBJECT  FOR  THE  FULL  TRUTH  OF  THAT  SUBJECT.


YOU  DO  NOT  NEED  A  PhD  IN  THEOLOGY  TO  UNDERSTAND  THE  BIBLE.  YOU  DO  NOT  NEED  TO  FIGURE  HIDDEN  CODES  ARE  IN  THE  BIBLE,  AND  ONLY  CERTAIN  ONES  CAN  INTERPRET  THE  BIBLE  CORRECTLY.


THIS  "JEWISH"  CODE  UNDERSTANDING  IS  IN  THE  SAME  BOAT  WITH  THE  GUY  IN  CHURCH  HISTORY  CALLED  ORIGEN  [185-254  A.D.]  WHO  "ALLEGORIZED" JUST  ABOUT  EVERYTHING  IN  THE  BIBLE.  SO  THINGS  DID  NOT  MEAN  WHAT  THEY  SAID.  WITH  SUCH  THEOLOGY  IT  IS  TRUE  WHAT  SKEPTICS  OF  THE  BIBLE  SAY,  "YOU  CAN  PROVE  ANYTHING  YOU  LIKE  BY  THE  BIBLE."


NOW  WHAT  ABOUT  NUMBERS 9:9-11 ?


IT  IS  THE  VERSES  ABOUT  OBSERVING  THE  PASSOVER  IN  THE  SECOND  MONTH  ON  THE  14TH.   IT  WAS  GIVEN  BY  GOD  BECAUSE  OF  THE  PHYSICAL WORLD  OF  MAN,  WHERE  THINGS  CAN  HAPPEN  TO  PREVENT  A  ONE  ONLY  DATE  OBSERVANCE.  SO  GOD  GAVE  THE  PASSOVER  ANOTHER  TIME  TO  BE  OBSERVED,  IF  THE  FIRST  DATE  COULD  NOT  BE  OBSERVED.


IF  WE  WERE  TO  PUT  THESE  VERSES  INTO  MODERN  PHRASING,  WITH  THE  BASIC  UNDERSTANDING  THAT  GOD  KNEW  SOME  WOULD  NOT  BE  ABLE  TO  OBSERVE  THE  PASSOVER  IN  THE  FIRST  MONTH  ON  THE  14TH;  WE  COULD WRITE  IT:  "AND  THE  LORD  SPAKE  UNTO  MOSES,  SAYING.  SPEAK  UNTO  THE  CHILDREN  OF  ISRAEL,  SAYING,  IF  ANY  PERSON  OF  YOU  OR  YOUR  GROUP  SHALL  NOT  BE  ABLE  TO  KEEP  THE  PASSOVER  IN  THE  FIRST  MONTH [for  reasons  such  as  being  unclean  through  the  unclean  laws  I  have  given  you,  or  in  a  journey  too  far  away],  THEN  THEY  SHALL  KEEP  THE  PASSOVER  IN  THE  SECOND  MONTH  AT  EVENING  SHALL  THEY  OBSERVE  IT......"


THE  WHOLE  CONTEXT  HAS  NOTHING  TO  DO  WITH  ANY  PHYSICAL  TOWN  OR  CITY.  READING  INTO  IT  THAT  IT  DOES  MEANS  YOU  HAVE  TO  COME  UP  WITH  SOME  BIZARRE  "CODE"  UNDERSTANDING  THAT  GOD  NEVER  INTENDED.  


WHAT  THE  ETERNAL  IS  INTENDING  IS  AS  SIMPLE  AS  IT  READS:  THERE  MAY  BE  [TWO  ARE  GIVEN  AS  EXAMPLES]  TIMES  WHEN  PEOPLE  CAN  NOT  OBSERVE  THE  PASSOVER  IN  THE  FIRST  MONTH.  ANOTHER  EXAMPLE  WOULD  BE  "GIVING  BIRTH"  -  A  WOMAN  MAY  GO  INTO  BIRTHING  ON  THE  VERY  EVENING  OF  THE  14TH  OF  THE  FIRST  MONTH.  ANOTHER  EXAMPLE  WOULD  BE  SEVERE  SICKNESS  WHERE  YOU  CAN  NOT  GET  OUT  OF  BED,  OR YOU  HAVE  COME  DOWN  WITH  A  SICKNESS  THAT  NEEDS  YOU  TO  BE  QUARANTINED  -  SEPARATED  FROM  OTHERS  FOR  A  TIME.


TO  PUT  THESE  VERSES  INTO  A  MODERN  CONTEXT  I  AM  SURE  YOU  CAN  THINK  OF  OTHER  SITUATIONS,  THAT  MAKE  IT  IMPOSSIBLE  FOR  SOMEONE  TO  OBSERVE  THE  PASSOVER  ON  THE  14TH  OF  THE  FIRST  MONTH.


SO  GOD  GAVE  ANOTHER  TIME  YOU  COULD  OBSERVE  THE  PASSOVER  -  THE  14TH  OF  THE  SECOND  MONTH.


OKAY,  THE  QUESTION  ARISES;  WHAT  IT  YOU  CAN  NOT  OBSERVE  IT  THEN  EITHER?  ANSWER:  THEN  FOR  THAT  YEAR  YOU  CAN  NOT  OBSERVE  THE  PASSOVER;  GOD  ONLY  GAVE  TWO  DATES  FOR  PASSOVER  OBSERVANCE.  HE  FULLY  UNDERSTANDS  YOUR  HEART,  IF  FOR  SOME  ODD  REASON  YOU  CANNOT  OBSERVE  THE  PASSOVER  ON  THE  TWO  DATES  HE  GAVE.  THERE  IS  ANOTHER  YEAR,  NEXT  YEAR...... IF  YOU  DON'T  LIVE  TILL  NEXT  YEAR..... AGAIN  GOD  UNDERSTANDS  YOUR  HEART..... NO  PROBLEM  WITH  HIM.


SO  DO  YOU  NOW  SEE  THE  SIMPLICITY  OF  ALL  THIS  IN  NUMBERS  9  AND  THE  SECOND  PASSOVER  DATE?


AH,  PUT  ALL  THIS  TO  A  CHILD  OF  SAY  9  OR  10  AND  THEY  WILL  UNDERSTAND  IT;  THE  PRINCIPLE  BEHIND  GOD  GIVING  A   SECOND  DATE  FOR  PASSOVER  OBSERVANCE  IS  SIMPLE;  FOR  SOME  REASON  YOU  CAN'T  OBSERVE  IT  IN  THE  FIRST  MONTH,  YOU  CAN  OBSERVE  IT  IN  THE  SECOND  MONTH  ON  THE  EVENING  OF  THE  14TH.


Keith Hunt