Today only basic Hebrew grammar is well understood and
there are many books on it. Rashi, however, lived
before the age of grammar books. A major Rashi method
is therefore the teaching of basic grammar.
Many students belittle this aspect of Rashi. They erroneously
think that because of modern methods we know more. However Rashi
will frequently focus on rare grammatical points not covered
in conventional textbooks.
There are many classical aspects to grammar whether
in Hebrew or other languages. They include
- The rules for conjugating verbs. These rules govern how you
differentiate person, plurality, tense, mode, gender, mood, and
designation of the objects and indirect objects of the verb. For
example how do you conjugate, in any language, I sang, we will
sing, we wish to sing, she sang it.
- Rules of agreement. For example agreement of subject
and verb, of noun and adjective; whether agreement in gender or plurality.
- Rules of Pronoun reference.
- Rules of word sequence. This is a beautiful topic which is
not always covered in classical grammatical textbooks.
Today we study a rule common in many languages, the use of
articles. In English the articles are a, the. In Hebrew
a prefix letter hey indicates the article the. The article when
used can indicate a proper noun.
A consequence of this principle is that
- Rayshith Shanah means the year beginning while
- Rayshith hashanah uses the article the and hence indicates
a proper noun, The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah.
We therefore translate Dt11-12c as follows:
A land which the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are always upon it, from The Jewish New Year to the end of the year.
Here Rashi translates the phrase with the article the as as proper noun, Jewish New Year, Rosh
Hashanah, but translates the phrase without the article as meaning the year end. From this translation
we obtain in a straightforward manner the Rashi Israel is judged for rain each Rosh Hashanah for the entire