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(5749) Rashi (Gen. 9:16): "between G-d and between every living creature"  


1.     And the rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will see it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and between every living creature among all flesh, which is on the earth."..In his commentary Rashi cites the words, “between God and between every living creature” and he explains:
Between the Standard of Justice of Heaven and between you, for it should have stated, “Between Me and every living creature!” But the following is its midrashic interpretation: When the standard of justice comes to accuse you (to condemn you), I will see the aforementioned sign and it will be remembered}

At first glance it appears the intent of Rashi is to explain the question (that he brings in his commentary) “it should have stated, “Between Me etc” (since all of this is a part of G-d’s statement: “and God said (“vayomer Elokim)”,

and accordingly Rashi explains the intent of “Elokim” here is “the attribute of Heavenly Justice”.

However, we need to examine this.

Because we find that it is “It is customary for the Scriptural verses to speak in this manner” as as Rashi himself explains in Parshat Vayeira on the verse: “And the Lord caused to rain down upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire, from the Lord, from heaven. ( Gen. 19:24)

 that “Here too it states “from the Lord,” and it does not state “from Him.” Because  It is customary for the Scriptural verses to speak in this manner”. And he cites many examples including an example from Parshat Beraishit: “as in the wives of Lemech,” and he did not say, “my wives.”. Thus already from Parshas Beraishis this prose has been accepted due to the reason of: “It is customary for the Scriptural verses to speak in this manner”.

[and there in Parshat Beraishit Rashi does not comment at all. And one could say the  reason is because from that verse there is no proof that “It is customary for the Scriptural verses to speak in this manner”” since over there it is the words of Lemech which are cited in the Torah and not the words [narrative] of the Torah itself. Therefore there is no proof from this that it is also “the customary prose of the Scriptual verses”. However in Parshat Vayeira, where it is the actual wording if the Torah -“ And the L-rd caused to rain down ect. , from from Hashem” – it is a clear proof that “It is customary for the Scriptural verses to speak in this manner”]

And since it is “the manner of the scriptural verses speaks so” (like we find in many places) what is the necessity of Rashi to explain the verse here according to the “Midrash

(that “between”Elokim” means “between the attribute of justice”)
and not in the simple manner that the reason it does not say” between me” is because “the manner of the verses is the speak so.”

2) We also have to understand the lengthiness of the wording of Rashi:

a)     It is known that it is not the manner of Rashi to write his commentary in a question and answer format. Rather he writes the explanation of the verses in a manner that the question is resolved by itself. Therefore, even in our case, Rashi should have seemingly sufficed to write: “between the attribute of Heavenly justice etc.”.
Why forced Rashi to elaborate and to explain the question: “, for it should have stated  between Me and between every living creature”?
   b) The innovation of Rashi, seemingly,is only regarding the words (“between) Elokim” . where he explaines that it means “the Heavenly attribute of justice”
- if so:

1)     Why did he also cite, from the verse, the words “and every living creature”?
2)      And also, why, in the body of his explanation does he go back and specify: “between you. . and between every living creature”? . He should have written concisely: “between Elokim - between the Heavenly attribute of justice . . that when the attribute of justice comes to accuse etc.” (or something similar)?
3)      The entire lengthiness  in Rashi’s conclusion : “When the standard of justice comes to accuse you,  I will see the aforementioned sign and it will be remembered” is seemingly extraneous wording, that has no innovation.
For in both, the aspect of the accusing –
Which is simple to understand that the task of the  attribute of Justice is “to accuse you”

and in the purpose of the sigh of the covenant (rainbow):
“And it shall come to pass, when I cause clouds to come upon the earth (ibid 14)” (when it comes to My mind to bring darkness and destruction to the world – Rashi).

“that the rainbow will appear in the cloud etc And I will remember My covenant etc.  and the water will no longer become a flood to destroy all flesh.”
the aspects have already been made known in the previous verses

3    In addition to the  lengthiness – one must understand many nuances (diyukei lishonos) in Rashi’s words. Some of the, are:

1.      The order of Rashi’s comments are puzzling. For in the beginning he writes his comments concisely ( “Between the Standard of Justice of Heaven and between you”).
Yet afterwards he explains the difficulty [in the understanding] of the verse, but yet again goes back to explain the meaning of the verse: “But the following is its Midrashic interpretation: When the standard of justice comes etc.!
It would have been more fitting to begin with the question:  “it should have stated” and then to resolve it in his commentary: “But the following is its Midrashic interpretation:  Between the Standard of Justice of Heaven [means that] when the standard of justice comes to accuse etc”
2.      “But the following is its Midrashic interpretation” – This that “Elokim” refers to the attribute of Justice etc has already been cited previously in Rashi’s commentary as a simple understanding of the verse [starting from the very first verse in Parshat Bereshit:
“In the beginning G-d(Elokim) created”. Rashi comments [[there]:
But it does not say “of the Lord’s creation of” for in the beginning it was His intention to create it with the Divine Standard of Justice”
               And also in our Parsha on the verse: “And God remembered Noah (ibid 8:1)” Rashi comments:
“This name represents the Divine Standard of Justice”]
-        Thus what is different here that Rashi stresses that : “this is its Midrashic interpretation”?
3.      “the Divine Standard of Justice” – Why does Rashi not write (as in other places) ”the Standard of Justice” plainly [without the word“Divine”]. (For it is self-understood that the intent is to G-d’s attribute of Justice)?
[The source of this phrase is in Midrash Rabbah on this verse. But there, the reason for the adjective is understood.
This is the wording in the Midrash:
Between Elokim and between every living soul:  Between Elokim refers to the Divine Standard of Justice, and between every living soul refers to the Earthly Standard of Justice. The Divine Standard of Justice is harsh and the Earthly Standard of Justice is lenient”
However according to Rashi, one cannot explain that “between every living soul” refers to the “Earthly Standard of Justice”.  (Since thisis the exact opposite of Pshat).
Rather it must be explained simply (K’pshuto), as Rashi writes:  “Between the Standard of Justice and between you
Accordingly, the phrase:” the heavenly standard of Justice” is not understood?
And this is specifically so, since the explanation that it refers to “harsh” [justice] is missing. And [that is why] it is specifically in the Midrash even though the student is older]


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