The Formatting principle includes exegetical Rashi comments focusing on paragraph structure. That
is, the parts of a paragraph when properly sequenced naturally suggest commentary. This type of commentary,
emanating from structure, is different from commentary from word meaning,
grammatical function or verse comparison. Todays example nicely illustrates this.
Verses Lv14-33:48 discussing the laws of house leprosy has a natural paragraph
structure which we have presented below in bullet format. Comments about each paragraph
are indicated with bold headers.
- Time 0, Initial Inspection: And the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying,
When you come to the land of Canaan...and I put the disease of leprosy in a house ...
And the house owner shall come and tell the priest, saying, It seems to me there is a disease...
Then the priest shall command ...
And he shall look on the disease, and, behold, if the disease is in the walls
Then the priest shall go out of the house to the door of the house, and shut up the house seven days;
- Time 7, 2nd inspection:
And the priest shall come again the seventh day, and shall look; and, behold, if the disease has spread over the walls of the house;
Then the priest shall command that ..
And he shall cause the house to be scraped
And they shall take other stones, and put them in the place of those stones;
- Time 14?, 3rd inspection
- Case: Disease spread:
And if the disease comes again, and break out in the house, after he has taken away the stones, and after he has scraped the house, and after it is plastered;
Then the priest shall come and look, and, behold, if the disease has spread in the house,
And he shall break down the house,
- Case: Disease not spread:
And if the priest shall come in, and look upon it, and, behold, the disease has not spread in the house, after the house was plastered; then the priest shall pronounce the house clean, because the disease is healed.
The actual Rashi comment is The case of the disease has not spread simply
refers to an alternate outcome at the end of the 2nd week. That is this 3rd inspection
either uncovers the disease spreading (in which case the house is destroyed) or else
uncovers the disease not spreading (in which case the house is not destroyed).
This Rashi comment is obvious from the paragraph structure. We have visually formatted
the paragraph to reflect two subcases - disease spread, disease not spread - to the 3rd inspection.
However, without the Rashi comment, or without the formatting, the text might appear to be
speaking about a 3rd and 4th inspection (that is, each if the priest comes might connote a
new inspection.) Rashi however correctly aligns the two contrastive phrases
if the priest comes and the plague has spread vs. if the priest comes and the
plague has not spread indicating parallel alternatives at the 3rd inspection.
Since the driving force of this Rashi comment comes not from words, grammar, or database
comparisons, but rather can best be understood through visual formatting, we have classified
this Rashi as belonging to the formatting rule.