When Rashi uses the synonym method he does not explain
the meaning of a word but rather the distinction between two similar
words both of whose meanings we already know.
The following Hebrew words all refer to
a treatment of non-acceptance.
Nun-Samech-Hey + Nun, Nissayon,
In our article Peshat and Derash: A New Intuitive and Logical Approach,
which can be found on the world-wide-web at
we have advocated punchy translations of Biblical verses as a means of presenting
Rashi comments. The following translation of verse
embeds the Rashi translation
Nisayon challenge / doubt
Therefore the people complained to Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said to them, Why do you fight with me? why do you challenge/doubt God?
Advanced Rashi: Here is a more succinct analysis:
- A test shows that a person or object can meet unusual stresses. You test a car by going
at unusual speeds, you test a person by asking unusual amounts of knowledge;
- By contrast a challenge/doubt tries to destroy a person or object. Unlike a test
it does not seek to ascertain but rather to redicule.
In this example Rashi points out Moses (incorrectly) complained that the people were not asking God to meet needs under unusual
circumstances but rather the people were doubting God by asking for water in the wilderness.
We have identified the source of this Rashi as linguistic: Nisayon means challenge/doubt;
it does not, like Nisah mean test,show performance.
Note also that this Rashi can be defended grammatically. A terminal nun
indicates extra intensity: So if NSh means test then NShyon
would mean challenge/doubt.