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      7. RASHI METHOD: FORMATTING
      BRIEF EXPLANATION:Inferences from Biblical formatting: --bold,italics, and paragraph structure.
      • Use of repetition to indicate formatting effects: bold,italics,...;
      • use of repeated keywords to indicate a bullet effect;
      • rules governing use and interpretation of climactic sequence;
      • rules governing paragraph development and discourse
      This example applies to Rashis Dt11-18a
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1303.htm
      Brief Summary: (1)If you serve God you will be rewarded. (2) If you don't serve you will be punished. (3)Learn and teach these precepts. RASHI:(1)(2) and (2)(3) form a paragraph.

Both the Biblical and modern author use the paragraph as a vehicle for indicating commonality of theme. Hence if two ideas are in a paragraph they may be assumed to have a similar context. The reader will no doubt recognize this formatting rule as none other than the most intuitive of the Rabbi Ishmael style rules which orthodox Jews recite every day as part of their daily prayer: the rule of inference from context. Today's example illustrates this.

    Rashi also makes inferences from paragraph proximity. Here the context is the chapter containing several distinct paragraphs. There are three broad methods of paragraph unity:
  • cause-effect
  • contrast
  • unifying theme with multiple effects

    Biblical paragraph Dt11-08:21 has 4 sub-paragraphs as indicated below
  1. If you listen to God's commands you will be rewarded: And it shall come to pass, if you shall heed diligently to my commandments which I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, That I will give you the rain ...
  2. If you don't listen I will punish you: Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and you turn aside, and serve other gods,... And then the Lordís anger be kindled against you, ... and lest you perish quickly from off the good land which the Lord gives you.
  3. Learn/Teach these words: Therefore shall you lay up these my words in your heart... And you shall teach them to your children, ...
  4. In order you live long: That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children....

    Rashi can be summarized by in the following two ways the organization of the above 4 paragraphs: We can alter the sequence of paragraphs 1 and 2
  • Paragraphs 2 and 1. If you disobey you will be punished while if you listen you will be rewarded.
  • Paragraph 3. Teach them to your children
  • Paragraph 4. This way you will merit long life.

    Alternatively we can keep the sequence of paragraphs 1 and 2. The result is still the same.
  • Paragraphs 1 and 2. If you will listen you will be rewarded while if you disobey you will be punished.
  • Paragraph 3. Teach them to your children
  • Paragraph 4. And in the end this way of life will merit long life and a return to your land.

The point is that we are free to use the sequence #1,#2 or #2,#1 corresponding to reward,punishment vs. punishment, reward, respectively. By using the reward punishment sequence there is a suggestion of sharing the punishment paragraph, #2, with both paragraphs #1 and #3 so that the sequence will read as follows:

  • Paragraphs #1,#2: If you observe God will reward you; if you sin God will punish you.
  • Paragraphs #2,#3: If you sin you will be punished but you will still learn and teach and do all the commemorative commandments.
  • Paragraph #4: The net effect with be longevity of life.

So the gist of Rashi is using the proximity of paragraph #2 twice: If you sin you will be punished but nevertheless you will be able to do commemorative commandments and mention long life.

The use of a terminal element in one sequence to simultaneously be an initial element in another sequence is called syncopation in music. It is a powerful technique which gives cohesive unity to works.


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