Pearls of Rashi – Ha’azinu II

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This week’s Torah portion, Ha’azinu, tells us that[1] “When I call out Hashem’s name, ascribe greatness to our G-d.” Rashi explains that “… When I call out and make mention of Hashem’s name, you shall ascribe greatness to Him, and bless His name. From here, our Rabbis derived that (one who hears a blessing) should respond, ‘Blessed be the Name of His glorious Kingdom (forever and ever)!” in the Holy Temple[2].”

The Sifri, here, has a different take on this verse. It writes “How do we know that one must respond ‘Omain’ to every Berochoh? Because our Parshah says, ‘ascribe greatness to our G-d.’”

As we have discussed many times, Rashi limits himself to explaining the simple meaning of each verse, i.e. Peshat. The Sifri, on the other hand, is a Midrash. It explains the Torah in a way that is far removed from Peshat.

In this case, it seems to be the other way around. The Sifri explains that ascribing greatness to Hashem’s name is accomplished by answering “Omain” to a blessing. This appears to be the Torah’s simple meaning. For nearly 2,000 years we have not had a Temple. Each of us responds “Omain” upon hearing a Berochoh. Even during the time of the Bais Hamikdosh, the overwhelming majority of blessings were not recited in the Mikdash. This very clearly appears to be Peshat.

Contrast this with Rashi’s explanation. Rashi writes that “ascribing greatness to Him,” refers to answering “Blessed be the Name of His glorious Kingdom (forever and ever)!” in the Holy Temple. These words seem to have no connection whatsoever to Peshat.

The explanation is, that this verse is answering an important question. Throughout the years of wandering, Moshe mentioned Hashem’s name to the Jews countless times. Why did he wait forty years to tell them that they “need to ascribe greatness to Him” when His name is mentioned?

This is why Rashi explains that this refers to a type of mentioning Hashem’s name which did not occur until this point. On Moshe’s last day, the Jews were on the threshold of entering Israel. There we would build the Temple, where the explicit name of G-d will be said, We will then need to ascribe greatness to it.

May we learn from Rashi and the Sifri, to ascribe greatness to Hashem’s name under any and all circumstances.

May we all have a good, sweet year both in all spiritual and physical matters. The new year which we just began should be sweet in a revealed manner. We should merit the ultimate blessing of Moshiach Now!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Hisvadu’yos 5742 Volume 1, Page 106

Mr. Sholom Moshe Hacohen
ben Reb Shlomo Meir Hacohen ע”ה Cohen
Passed away Shabbos Parshas Beshalach, 13 Shevat, 5779
May His Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
* * *
לעילוי נשמת
ר’ שלום משה הכהן בן ר’ שלמה מאיר הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטר ש”ק פ’ בשלח, י”ג שבט, ה’תשע”ט
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
יו”ל ע”י בתו וחתנו שיחיו
הרה”ת ר’ שמואל ורבקה שי’ מענדלסאהן

[1]. Our Parshah, 32:3.

[2]. Outside of the Bais Hamikdosh, we respond “Omain” when hearing a Berochoh.

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