These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem


Posted on May 4, 2012 by Barer

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In this week’s ​parsha​, all the holidays are described in order (starting with ​Pesach​). Immediately afterwards, the text details the rituals associated with the objects within the קודש, the ​Holy​ on the ​Mishkan​ and later the Temple. ​Mussaf Rashi​, a compilation of scattered commentary attributed to ​Rashi​, notes that this is a hint to ​the celebration of the holiday of ​Channukah​ from the Torah – and the ​Menorah​ is the first object detailed right after the rest of the (biblically prescribed) holidays. To modern ears, this sounds a little far-fetched, but Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, in his book ​Zakhor​, explains that ​Rashi​ is hardly unique in this way of relating to Jewish history:

On the whole, medieval Jewish chronicles tend to assimilate events to old and established conceptual frameworks. Persecution and suffering are, after all, the result of ancient sins. It is important to realize that there is also no real desire to find novelty in passing events. Quite to the contrary, there is a pronounced tendency to subsume even major new events to familiar archetypes…

Viewed in this light, it is understandably comforting to the father of medieval commentary to see the desecration of the Temple and the resultant Hasmonean victory as being anticipated in our ​parsha​. This is a much more nuanced way of approaching ​Rashi​, who, when making comments like this, is normally viewed as hyper-Orthodox and out of touch to the modern reader. ​

The new and the old:
​The new, part of God’s intent;
​The old, predicted