We have explained in our article
Biblical Formatting located on the world wide web at
that the Biblical Author indicates bold, italics, underline by using
repetition. In other words if a modern author wanted to emphasize
a word they would either underline, bold or italicize it. However when the Biblical
author wishes to emphasize a word He repeats it. The effect - whether
thru repetition or using underline - is the same. It is only the
means of conveying this emphasis that is different.
When a modern author wishes to deemphasize a concept
they will strike it out. When the Biblical author wishes to deemphasize
a concept He places dots over it. The dots in the Biblical version, or the
strikeout in the modern version, indicate deemphasis.
There are 6 examples of dotting or strikeout in the Bible.
They are presented in the list below along with
the accompanying Rashi interpretation. In each case Rashi interprets
the verse as if the word was Stricken out.
- Nu03-39a: All that were numbered of the Levites, whom Moses and
Aaron numbered at the commandment of HaShem, by their families, all the males from a month old and upward, were twenty and two thousand.
Rashi: Aaron was stricken from the census--that is he wasn't counted since he was a Levite.
And Esau ran to meet him [Jacob], and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and
kissed him; and they wept.
Rashi: The kiss should be stricken from the record! It wasn't a real (i.e. sincere) kiss since Esau really hated Jacob.
- Dt29-29a: The secret things [sins] belong unto HaShem our G-d; but the
things [sins] that are
revealed belong [are visited] unto us and to our
children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.
Rashi: Revealed should be stricken. Revealed sins weren't always visited upon the community; they weren't visited upon
the community till after the conquest of Israel in the time of Joshua.
- Gn37-12a: And his brethren went to
shepard their father's flock in Shechem.
Rashi: The word shepard should be stricken out since
they didn't really go to shepard sheep; rather they went to escape their father
who favored Joseph.
Speak unto the children of Israel, saying: If any man of you or of your generations
shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey
afar off, yet he shall keep the passover unto HaShem;
Rashi: The requirement far off should be stricken. One need not be absolutely
far away - but far away enough not to be able to
come to Jerusalem.
And they said
to him: 'Where is Sarah thy wife?' And he said: 'Behold, in the tent.'
The phrase to him should be stricken. They said it generally, not just to him.
When they met Abraham they said to him where is your spouse. Similarly when
they met Sarah they said where is your spouse.
Each of the above Rashis might look homiletic by itself. However the list of
Rashis creates an aura of credibility that we would otherwise not be able
to achieve. The list of examples is thus an important vehicle for understanding and
explaining difficult Rashis.
Rashi actually gives a more detailed technical explanation. Rashi distinguishes between
cases when the number of dots on the word is more than the number of letters. However the
above set of explanations is straightforward and does not require such technicalities.
Sermonic points: Rashi derives etiquette from the above inference:
It is proper etiquette for a guest to ask each spouse about the other spouse.
Presumably such asking creates a sense that the guest is equally interested in both partners.