Dvarim

Question

“Between... the stranger”(“gero”) Deuteronomy (1 16); This refers to his opponent in court who brings up arguments against him. Another explanation: even with regard to living accommodations (“ger” - sojourner, one who sojourns), in the sharing out between brothers, even of an oven and cooking stove. Rashi

What difficulty did Rashi find? Why was not one explanation sufficient?

Answer

If the word “gero” is derived from “ger” (stranger) then the construct form “gero” - his stranger - poses a difficulty because the Humash never uses this construct form as an individual possessive pronoun. In Deuteronomy (5 14) the text reads “and your stranger within your gates”; here the Torah usage of “your” is referring to the collective nation of Israel.

Thus Rashi offers his first explanation, taken from Sifrei, in which the word “gero” is a description of “achiv” - the opposing litigant of “ish” listed earlier in the verse. “Gero” here is derived from the root “la’agor” - to heap up. Still, there remained a problem for Rashi in the text’s seeming superfluous usage of the word “u’vain” (between) right before the listing of “gero.” So Rashi turns to the Talmud, Sanhedrin 7B, which takes into consideration the word “u’vain” - as referring to litigation involving two brothers (dividing a bequest) who were to inherit a residence i.e. “gero” (from “lagur” - to dwell) or two brothers who inherit household utensils (i.e. “gero” deriving from “magur” household appliances). Case one, in the Talmud, deals with real estate and case two, with chattels. In either case a just division of the property must prevail. In the talmudic explanation, “Gero” refers to the item of dispute. In this explanation, “u’vain” alludes to the distribution of property between the two heirs. Thus, Rashi offers all three possible explanations to the word “gero” because none of them alone provides a clear, definitive, smooth reading of the text “u’vain gero.” The three explanations together cover the full gamut of possibilities.

Prepared by: Rabbi Mordechai Spiegelman veteran yeshiva educator (USA) now residing in Jerusalem

 


 

 

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08 Sep 2005 / 4 Elul 5765 0