Anyone who has any learning background is a student of Rashi. Rashi’s commentaries are part and parcel of both Chumash and Gemara and no one can budge without them. The irony is that they are so basic we do fathom how rich, deep, and complex Rashi’s commentary really is. There are two stories I’d like to share with you, and whether fact or legend they both illustrate this point.
It is told that the Arizal, the father of modern day Kabala, once decided to write a Kabalistic Peirush on Chumash. After completing this task in a dream, he was told that it is very good but too long and needs to be cut down. So he went back and made it more concise. Once he again he had the same dream. This phenomenon repeated itself time and time again until his commentary was cut down to its barest bones. At that point he had a dream and was told to go look in Rashi. After all the editing, his commentary turned out to be the exact words of Rashi.
Another story is about Rebbi who was teaching his talmidim gemara with Rashi. He read a Rashi and lamented that this was one of the three Rashis in Shas that he did not understand. Later that night he had a dream where Rashi appeared to him and taught him the three Rashis he did not know. The next day he woke up beaming with pride and told his talmidim of his dream as he explained the Rashi. He rejoiced knowing that now he knows all the Rashis in Shas. The next night Rashi appeared to him in a dream and told him, “Fool do not be so haughty. Now you actually only really know three Rashis in all of Shas!”
Whether these stories are true or not is irrelevant. Rashi’s words reach the depth of human understanding in explaining the holy words of Hashem and Chazal. Every Gadol laboriously toiled over his every word and phrase, with hundreds of seforim dedicated to trying to get to the bottom of their meaning. The Pnei Yehoshua’s grandfather wrote a Sefer called Maginei Shlomo, defending Rashi from Tosfos. Upon his death he told his talmidim to make way for Rashi who has come to lead him to his place in Gan Eden in appreciation for him saving, “The lion from the cubs”.
Today is the Yahrtzeit of Klal Yisroel’s Rebbi. On this day we fervently pray that Hashem will give us the wisdom and understanding to appreciate and peer deeper in the meaning of our great Rebbi’s holy words.