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      2. RASHI METHOD: WORD MEANING
      BRIEF EXPLANATION: The meaning of words can be explained either by
      • (2a) translating an idiom, a group of words whose collective meaning transcends the meaning of its individual component words,
      • (2b) explaining the nuances and commonality of synonyms-homographs,
      • (2c) describing the usages of connective words like also,because,if-then, when,
      • (2d) indicating how grammatical conjugation can change word meaning
      • (2e) changing word meaning using the figures of speech common to all languages such as irony and oxymorons.
      This examples applies to Rashis Nu32-13a
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w34n3.htm
      Brief Summary: The root NUN-VAV-AYIN means a) to rattle b) cymbals c) demographic wandering.

When Rashi uses, what we may losely call, the hononym method, Rashi does not explain new meaning but rather shows an underlying unity in disparate meanings. Rashi will frequently do this by showing an underlying unity in the varied meanings of a Biblical root.

In my article Peshat and Derash found on the world wide web at http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rashi.pdf I advocate enriching the Rashi explanation using a technique of parallel nifty translations in modern English. Today's examples show this.

    The Hebrew root Nun-Vav-Ayin has a basic meaning of rattle. It can therefore mean
  • To physically rattle e.g. to rattle food in a sieve
  • Cymbals, the musical instrument which achieves its effect by rattling
  • Human wandering which is poetically called rattling of humans.

Frequently the underling unified theme in our unified meanings is only conjecture. But in this case we have a charming verse in which both of the meanings of rattle and wander occur confirming our hunch on a poetic analogy. Verse Am09-09 discussing the punishment of the Jews states For, behold, I will command, and I will make the house of Israel wander among all nations, like grain is rattled in a sieve, yet not even the least grain shall fall upon the earth.

Using the above Rashi we would translate Nu32-07,13a as And why do you rattle the heart of the people of Israel from going over to the land which the Lord has given them? Thus did your fathers, .... And the Lordís anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation, that had done evil in the sight of the Lord, was consumed.

Advanced Rashi: Notice how Moses also used the root Nun-Vav-Ayin in the sense of both rattling and wandering. This gives a rare moment of insight: We can appreciate how the Prophet Amos borrowed Moses' Biblical pun and used it in his own prophecies. Such cute insights enrich the Rashi experience.


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