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Why does Rashi leave out an example?

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In Devarim 32:48 the pasuk says:

וַיְדַבֵּ֤ר יְהוָה֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה בְּעֶ֛צֶם הַיּ֥וֹם הַזֶּ֖ה לֵאמֹֽר

That very day the LORD spoke to Moses

Rashi on Devarim 32:48 writes:

וידבר ה' אל משה בעצם היום הזה
... בִּשְׁלוֹשָׁה מְקוֹמוֹת נֶאֱמַר בְּעֶצֶם הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה, נֶאֱמַר בְּנֹחַ "בְּעֶצֶם הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה בָּא נֹחַ וְגוֹ'" (בראשית ז')
...בְּמִצְרַיִם נֶאֱמַר "בְּעֶצֶם הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה הוֹצִיא ה'" (שמות י"ב)

And the Lord Spoke to Moses That Very Day
In three places in Scripture the expression בעצם היום הזה is used. It states in the narrative of Noah (Genesis 7:121) That very day entered Noah … [into the ark]”...
Of Egypt, too, it states, (Exodus All. 11) “The very day the Lord did bring [the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt]”...

However, there is another place in Genesis 17:23:

וַיִּקַּח אַבְרָהָם אֶת־יִשְׁמָעֵאל בְּנוֹ וְאֵת כָּל־יְלִידֵי בֵיתוֹ וְאֵת כָּל־מִקְנַת כַּסְפּוֹ כָּל־זָכָר בְּאַנְשֵׁי בֵּית אַבְרָהָם וַיָּמָל אֶת־בְּשַׂר עָרְלָתָם בְּעֶצֶם הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר אִתּוֹ אֱלֹהִים

Then Abraham took his son Ishmael, and all his homeborn slaves and all those he had bought, every male in Abraham’s household, and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins on that very day, as God had spoken to him.

So we see that there are four places in which the term בְּעֶצֶם הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה is used2.

Why doesn't Rashi mention this place in his list?

  1. Note: The words themselves appear on the next pasuk (Genesis 7:13), It seems Rashi means the beginning of the storyline.

  2. In fact, Rashi there even gives the same basic explanation of why those words are used (To show that even if others wanted to stop him, they wouldn't have been able to).

Why should this post be closed?

1 comment

crosspost: https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/117641 ‭msh210‭ about 1 month ago

2 answers

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Based on several Shiurim I've heard personally from Rabbi Yochanan Zweig.


What is עצם היום?

The Torah opens up with the beginning of Creation. In Bereishis 1:5, the Torah writes:

וַיִּקְרָא אֱלֹהִים לָאוֹר יוֹם וְלַחֹשֶׁךְ קָרָא לָיְלָה‏

G-d called the light "Day," and the darkness He called "Night."

So the Torah expressly defines יום as the light created on the first day.

What was this light? Chagigah 12a.9 describes it as follows:

א"ר אלעזר אור שברא הקב"ה ביום ראשון אדם צופה בו מסוף העולם ועד סופו

R' Elazar said, "The light which Hashem created on the first day — Adam saw with it from the end of the world to its end."

As the Gemara goes on to describe, this special light was hidden away for future generations.


Revealing the Light

It stands to reason, then, that when the Torah elsewhere references יום, it's referring to something to do with this light. In the expression בעצם היום הזה, one might translate it not as "in the middle of the day," but rather with the essence of the day. That is, in the various instances where בעצם היום הזה is employed, Hashem revealed the light of Creation momentarily, for whatever purpose it was needed at that moment.

How would this have been employed in the three instances Rashi cites? Well, have you ever looked at the sun on a cloudless day? You know how blinding that is? Now amplify that by several orders of magnitude. Hashem's revealing the supernal light in these instances was effectively to blind anyone who would stop Noach from entering the Teivah,1 Bnei Yisrael from leaving Mitzraim, or Moshe from ascending Har Nevo.

Avraham's Bris was different. The light wasn't needed to stop anyone from preventing the Bris from taking place. Its goal was instead to heal Avraham. Since Rashi is only discussing the three locations in which the light was employed to blind those attempting to stop an event from taking place, he doesn't discuss Avraham's Bris Milah; it's irrelevant to the point he's making.

  1. For those familiar with The Little Midrash Says, you may recall that Hashem sent lions and bears to stop them from destroying the Teivah. How does that fit with Hashem using the light? Rabbi Zweig explained by noting that Rashi doesn't bring that up on v. 13; he only discusses that on v.16, once they're already in the Teivah. So Hashem employed the light to allow Noach entry, and the animals to prevent harm once he was already inside. One thing that he did not address is why Hashem revealed the light specifically when he entered, and the animals specifically once he was already inside, as opposed to the opposite or simply using one method of defense.

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The locations that Rashi cites are actions by Hashem and not by human beings. Thus, the commentary by Rashi pointing out that Hashem performed the actives in broad daylight to show that he would prevent anyone from attempting to interfere. The fourth pasuk cited was about the action of Avraham which was done in broad daylight in order to show that he did not care if anyone objected. Additionally, Rashi in the locations cited points out that there were people who stated that they would prevent this from being done. In the case of Avraham, there were no people who stated in advance that they would prevent the circumcisions from taking place. Thus that pasuk was not relevant to the explanation.

2 comments

Interesting! Are these your own ideas? ‭msh210‭ about 1 month ago

@msh210 It is based on what Rashi says ‭sabbahillel‭ 28 days ago

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