The Rabbi Ishmael Style rules indicate
how verses should be treated, whether literally
and restrictively or generally and broadly as
paradigms. The General-Detail style indicates
a restrictive literal interpretation--the general
clause is restricted to the specific requirements of the
Dt02-04a:05 is written in a general-detail style.
And command the people, saying, You are to pass through the border of your brothers the sons of Esau, who live in Seir; and they shall be afraid of you;
- General: take heed and watch yourselves [by]
- Detail: Contend not with them; for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a foot breadth; because I have given Mount Seir to Esau for a possession.
Rashi comments by adding the interpolated word [by] linking the
General-detail clauses and giving them specificity.
Take heed and watch yourselves [by] not contending
Here is another way of understanding this Rashi. The
statement take heed and watch yourself is very broad
and general. It could refer to not insulting them. It could
even refer to not entering commerce with them. However
the general-detail combination, take heed [by]
not contending with them...I will not give you of their land
makes it clear that the only prohibition is military
contention---the Jews were prohibited from military
conflict with the Moabites. However other forms of contention
are not prohibited.
In fact Rashi elsewhere notes that the phrase ...and they
shall be afraid of you... indicates that it was permissable
for the Jews to go thru Seir armed, even though they could not enter into war and even though they would cause anxiety to
the Moabites when they saw an armed nation going through their land.
Last week we augmented
the weekly Rashi with presentations of controversies
among the early authorities. We continue the trend this week
by presenting an attachment discussing a controversy between
Rashi and Sforno on the above Rashi. The attachment may be found