The special word method deals with the
few dozen special connective words that exist in all languages.
Familiar examples are also, when, that, if, then, all, because, only,
this,.... These words are typically
Rashi's job, when he comments on a special connective
words, is to enumeratively list the nuances and usages of the word.
- adverbs such as all,also or
connective words, either
- conjunctions such as if, then, because
- articles or demonstrative or abstract pronouns such as the, this, that
- propositional connectives such as in,on,to,from.
The most famous example of the special word method is the Hebrew word Kaph Yud
which can mean because, that, when, perhaps, rather, if.
Sometimes Rashi explicitly gives all meanings of a connective
word as happens with Kaph Yud while at other times
Rashi does not give all meanings at once. In such a case the
Rashi student must gather all the meanings together from various
One can classify the special word method as either a meaning
sub-method or grammar sub-method.
Today's special word, akh, is more fully discussed in the following
article on the Rashi website: The meaning of Ach which can be found
at url http://www.Rashiyomi.com/ach.pdf.
Although this article goes into great depth, which the interested reader is encouraged to pursue,
the reader on the go can obtain a complete understanding of ach by reading the concise
and compact summary presented below.
Today we deal with the Hebrew special word
which can have any of the following meanings.
- most of,
most of Noah remained in the ark
([Rashi: but not all of him since a lion attacked him for
bringing his meal late]
[seeing the way you behave] she is probably your wife
usually on the tenth of Tishray you will have a Yom Kippur day,
a day of atonement [Rashi: Usually you will have atonement; but not
if the sin was interpersonal in which case you must first seek forgiveness from
your fellow man].
Applying this rule to the translation of
Usually [Rashi: because the Levites don't participate in
national sins] the Levites are not censused during national censii....
As is our practice we have embedded the Rashi translation in the verse.
Advanced Rashi: In a most fascinating way, Rashi gives two explanations for why the Levites
aren't tested: one based on authority and one based on moral reason.
This comparison of an authority vs. a moral logical approach is most instructive and sheds light on Jewish values.
- The levites aren't censused among national censii because they personally serve God in the Temple
- The Levites aren't censused because usually they don't sin, for example, they didn't participate in the
golden-calf sin. Since they don't sin it is not necessary to count them to see how many were punished because of the sin.
The word ach can also mean nevertheless a introductory sentence word that alerts the reader to a contrast
between the preceding and following sentence. We however have omitted this meaning from the above list.