When you look at a book or any page of text, beyond, around, and between the print there are margins, spacing, and paragraph breaks. Why are these important? This is known as the “white space” without which the eye finds it difficult to focus and to absorb the content of what has been written.
In the Torah, too, the words are divided into paragraphs, with halakhically mandated margins, paragraphs, and breaks between sections. In his opening remarks to Parshat Vayikra, Rashi reflects upon the purpose of the subdivisions and paragraphing in the Torah, assuming that these divisions were part of the original transmission of Torah as God taught Moses the Law. He writes:
And what purpose did these subsections serve? To give Moses an interval for reflection between one division and another and between one subject and another — something which is all the more necessary for an ordinary man receiving instruction from an ordinary man. (Rashi)
Click here to read more from Rabbi Alex Israel in this week’s Parsha Discussion: Vayikra: White Space.
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