INSIGHT: Giant Crib or Giant Bed?Rashi, Rashbam, and Rabbeinu Tam

Giant Og’s Baby Crib in the Museum of Rabbah

Giant Og’s Baby Crib in the Museum of Rabbah

Once again, here in Parshas Devarim, Moshe filled in some important details:

“And we conquered all of the many cities in the kingdom of Og. All these cities were fortified with high walls, double doors, and bolts, in addition to a great many unwalled cities. And we utterly destroyed them, as we did to Sichon! This victory was n othing less than a miracle. A miracle of HaShem!”

“Splendiforous!” the people sure were impressed.

Moshe continued, “Allow me to describe to you the enormous size of Og, and you’ll appreciate this miracle! The crib of Og was built of sturdy iron. I’m talking about a CRIB. A crib of a baby… not a bed of an adult! And do you know why this crib was made of iron?”

Moshe captured the attention of his audience. Nobody made a peep and with bated breath they were waiting for the answer.

“I’ll tell you why!” Moshe called out. “It’s because, even as a baby, if Og had a regular wooden crib it would have broken! That’s why he needed a custom-made strong iron crib!”

“Wow! That’s some awesome baby!”

“Now, just imagine how big this baby became, after he grew up and up and up and up!” Moshe said as he pointed his finger to the sky.

“Now if you don’t believe me, let me tell you exactly where that crib is today. You can see it for yourselves.”



“Can we see it?”

“You sure could. It’s kept in the Land of Amon, in a city called Rabbah, for all to see – open to the public. You see, I am not making up these stories!”

“It’s truly amazing!”

“I wonder if they charge admission to this Og Museum?”

Shazak insight

Giant Crib or Giant Bed?

Shazak understands that the Parsha is describing the amazingly large crib that was used for baby Og. This follows the teaching of the great Rashbam, who is famous for always looking to find the simple meaning of the words. Other great Rabbi commentators, however, disagree. They understand it to be the bed of the adult Og and not his crib.

Why does Rashbam believe that it was a crib and not a bed?

Most likely because the Torah uses the unusual word, ערש (Eres), which means a “crib.” If the Torah would have been referring to an ordinary bed, it would have used the word מטה (Mitah).

Fun fact: Do you think the word Mitah is related to the English word “mat?” We do.

Shazak insight

Giant Og – The Crib Demolisher!

It’s true! Every single word of the Torah is super important, and there is a reason for everything. So why does the Torah need to describe here what the Og’s crib was made from – a crib of iron?!

Once again, the Rashbam to the rescue:

Og’s parents had a wooden crib for their son, just like everyone else did. But then when he would lie down in the crib… CRASH! BANG! KABOOM! The crib was destroyed, shattered, and totally demolished! Tsooshmettered!

So Og’s parents had no choice but to build for him a crib made out of strong iron.

That’s why the Torah tells us this fact, to let us know the great strength of Og even as a baby!

Shazak insight

Rashi, Rashbam, and Rabbeinu Tam

Rabbi Shmuel ben Meir was a grandson of Rashi, who composed a brief but very insightful commentary on the Torah – just like his famous grandfather. But there are major differences between the two.

While Rashi often turns to Midrash to help us understand the meaning of the Pasuk, Rashbam is more likely to dig deeper into the words themselves and arrive at his own conclusion, even if it is different from the opinions found in Talmud or Midrash.

You can imagine that he, even at a young age, had many friendly disagreements with his grandfather, Rashi.  In fact, Rashbam tells us all about these “arguments” in the beginning of his commentary to Parshas VaYishlach.

BTW: Are you wondering what Rashbam’s real name is?

Hint #1: RaMBaM stands for Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon. So what does RaSHBaM stand for?

Hint #2: His name was Shmuel, and his father’s name was Meir.

Got it?

One final Rashbam fact: He was the older brother of the famous Rabbeinu Tam (whose real name was Yaakov).

And another final, final Rashbam fact:

RaShbam was Rabbeinu Tam’s teacher? (Do you teach your siblings?)

And another final, final, final Rashbam fact. Just joking.

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