When Rashi uses the synonym method he does not explain
the meaning of a word but rather the distinction between two similar
words both of whose meanings we already know.
The following Hebrew words all refer to
to relate a story;
In our article Peshat and Derash: A New Intuitive and Logical Approach,
which can be found on the world-wide-web at
we have advocated punchy translations of Biblical verses as a means of presenting
Rashi comments. The following translation of verse
embeds the Rashi translation
And God cited Moses and said to him "I am God."
Advanced Rashi: Normally we think of a citation as something a traffic
officer does when giving you a ticket. The word cite literally refers to a quotation.
We will see in rule #3 below that God did actually cite Moses and in effect gave him
The Talmud (and Rashi quotes this) explains that Daber is harsh talk while Amar
is soft talk. This Talmudic statement is consistent with my explanation that Daber means
cite while Amar means (general) speaking. Indeed, to go back to the traffic officer example,
when an officer cites a regulation to an offender the officer is being apodictic, and not allowing
further discussion. The offender violated a written regualtion and hence must be cited. On the other hand if
the officer did not cite but instead spoke - for example, if the officer said Did you know you
were doing 70 in a 55 mile hour zone the officer is not being as harsh. The officer is leaving room for
discussion and response, for example, Well the road is empty, the weather is clear, and I am in a rush to
an important meeting which will affect many people. In other words there is a difference between talking, speaking
about a violation, leaving room for response and feedback, vs. citing which is rather final and not subject
So in summary, Daber meaning cite and citation is a harsh form of communication. When
the Talmud said Daber is harsh it was not indicating a translation of Daber but rather indicating that
the meaning of daber connotes a harsher form of communication.
This approach - Daber means cite - to the Talmudic passage Daber is harsh emanates from the method
proposed by me in the above mentioned article - the method of punchy English translations.
This Rashi is continued in rule #4, alignment.
There we discuss what Moses was cited for.