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Can You Relate?

By: Rav Jason Knapel

Our first introduction to the use of Rashi on Chumash (or Rashi as a whole) is usually in the younger grades and therefore we never really appreciate the depth in his perush – we also never gain an appreciation for how much real “machshava” there is within his perush on Chumash. As I was going over the Parsha this week I noticed something which seems a simple perush but can be used to understand a fundamental approach to Judaism and Avodat Hashem.

The Torah tells us that when we lend money to a person and that person has trouble paying we can take a “mashkon” from him – collateral so that he will pay the loan. The Torah strongly states that if one were to take the only set of clothing of the poor person for collateral he needs to return it to him each day so that he can have use out of it. Even if it would mean that you need to make the trip numerous times you need to make sure the ani has his clothing. Even without Rashi this concept is amazing – the ani owes you money and yet you need to make sure that he gets his clothing – even if it is a burden to you – a standard of caring not seen in many cultures today.

Rashi on the pasuk explains why you need to keep going back again and again to the ani to make sure he has his clothing – even if it is a burden. He explains that Hashem says to the people – your souls go up to shamayim and are judged every single night and they are found lacking – but I return them to you each morning – I take them and return them, take them and return them – so too you can take the mashkon and return it as well. In other words, Hashem is saying that He does the same thing for us – He bothers Himself every day for us – even when we are not deserving.

There are multiple levels of understanding in this Rashi that can influence our lives.On a simple level we see the concept of Imitatio Dei – that in our lives we need to imitate the way Hakadosh Baruch Hu acts so that we can be moral and ethical people.

On a deeper level we see that we learn morality – ben adam lechavero from ben adam lamakom. Often we ask which is more important the right side of the luchot or the left. Rashi is explaining that they are totally interconnected. That through the “Spiritual” concepts that deal with G-d we learn about the social concepts of how to deal with our fellow man and of course vice versa…..

There is a third level I think to Rashi which made me stop when I read the Rashi to do some introspection. Hakadosh Baruch Hu is saying that because He treats us one way therefore we should treat our fellow man in kind. I thought of another perspective – the way I treat Hakadosh Baruch Hu and the way He treats me. Often people blame Hashem for things, ignore Hashem and don’t listen to Him – However did we ever stop to think what would happen if Hashem reflected that relationship back to us. If we ignored Him – then He ignores us, if we go against His wishes then He does the same. As a parent I have often thought of how I parent vs. the way Avinu SheBashamayim relates to me – and how I need to parent my child with the same understanding that I want from Hashem for myself. Reading this Rashi took this out of just parenting and into all of life itself. Am I relating to G-d the same way that I want him to relate to me? Am I asking too much from Him when I am unwilling to respond in the same way?

I know there is a big difference when dealing with Hashem as opposed to a person and that it is much more all-encompassing and detailed but it was nice to read a Rashi that set my mind to reflecting how I lead my life.

Shabbat Shalom

Rav Jason





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