Certain Biblical paragraphs are stated in a Theme-Development-Theme form.
In other words a broad general idea is stated first followed by the development
of this broad general theme in specific details. The paragraph-like unit is then
closed with a repetition of the broad theme.
The Theme-Detail-Theme form creates a unified paragraph.
The detailed section of this paragraph is therefore seen as
an extension of the general theme sentences.
Today's example illustrates
this as shown immediately below.
the covering of the naked drunken Noah by
- General: And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward,
- Detail:and covered the nakedness of their father;
- General:and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness.
Rashi generalizes the detail clause
and covered the nakedness of their father;
as illustrative of the general clause,
faces were backward
Their goal was not to humiliate their father. Even at the
moment of covering their face was backward and they did not
see him naked.
We believe this comment evident and consistent with the Rabbi Ishmael style guidelines.
Advanced Rashi: This verse actually has a General-Detail-General-General
form since the verse states went backwards - covered his nakedness - faced backwards -
did not see his nakedness. In other words the verse explicitly identifies
the theme of the general clause - they avoided seeing his nakedness.
Notice that Rashi is not being pedantic but rather Rashi should be perceived as
emphasizing one special implication of they did not see their father's nakedness.
Rashi emphasizes even at the critical moment of covering him, when viewing the situation
would be helpful, they did not peek. However what we have added to Rashi's explanation is
that the driving force behind the Rashi is not some technical detail - what happened
at the moment of covering - but rather a general statement that they always faced
backwards out of respect for their father.