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What do we learn from Rashi?

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Today commemorates the passing of Rashi, one of the greatest Torah commentator, who lived in France. We can learn much Torah from him, of course, but we should also be mindful of some fundamental truths revealed through his work.
1. Human potential is incredibly vast. Rashi's commentary is amazing both in its depth and in its scope. Unique among the Torah giants of the Middle Ages, Rashi encompassed most of the Bible as well as nearly all of the Talmud in his commentaries, which were eagerly accepted by Jewish communities throughout the world.
2. Profundity and brevity go hand in hand. Rashi's commentary is clear and concise. He distills the wisdom of myriad sources, often Mishnaic, into a few words. When we read his commentaries, we learn that it is possible to combine brevity with clarity and depth.
3. Everything has meaning. Each word in the Bible and in the Talmud conveys a message. Rashi expounds on the importance of seemingly insignificant details. He has a unique way of looking at the Torah and at the world. Nothing is without purpose and our task is to find meaning in everything.
4. It's okay to acknowledge: "I don't know." How much honesty and humility are required to articulate those words? Throughout his commentary, the man whose name is synonymous with encyclopedic knowledge and unparalleled expertise in all areas of study is not ashamed to admit that he does not know everything. Perhaps in this way he is also encouraging us to look for an explanation that escaped him.
These are among the reasons that even this morning, 917 (!) years after his passing, millions of Jews will be learning Torah with Rashi.
In his memory.


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