Certain Biblical paragraphs are stated in an example form.
In other words an example of a law is stated rather than the full
general rule. The reader's task is to generalize the example.
The idea that all Biblical laws should be perceived as examples (unless
otherwise indicated) is explicitly stated by Rashi (Pesachim 6.).
This is a rule of style since the rule requires that a text be perceived
as an example rather than interpreted literally. The Rabbi Ishmael style
rules govern the interpretation of style.
negligent murder which leads to banishment to the refuge cities
Or with any stone, whereby a man may die, without seeing him, and he felt it upon him, that he died, and he was not his enemy, nor sought his harm;
Then the congregation shall judge ...
And the congregation shall deliver the slayer from the hand of the avenger of blood, and the congregation shall restore him to his city of refuge, ...
Rashi commenting on the underlined phrases states:
A status of willful or negligent murder requires an initial downward (falling) thrust. However a death that
took place from something falling after an initial upward thrust - e.g. 1) a person climbing up a ladder who fell,
2) a person climbing up a ladder, one of whose rungs dislodged and fell and 3) a pail carried by a person climbing up a ladder,
which subsequently fell and killed - is neither classified as willful nor negligent. [Note: If you throw a knife straight up
and it then falls and kills there is no death penalty; but if you threw it sideways and up and it fell and killed there
is a death penalty (because in the first case the force killing was gravity while in the latter case there were two forces
killing, your initial thrust and gravity.]
Advanced Rashi: Note that there have been several legal citations in todays Weekly Rashi. Several years ago we had a Golden
Rambam Rashi series exploring the beautiful relationship between Biblical exegesis and technical Jewish law. The series faded out (primarily because
of lack of interest on the readers). However from time to time we still bring citations of Jewish law and explore the exegetical legal interaction.