Most people are aware that Hebrew verbs
come from three-letter roots. Each root is
conjugated in the 8 dimensions of
person, gender,plurality, tense, activity,
modality, direct-object, and prepositional connective. For example
the root Shin Mem Resh means to watch.
The conjugations Shin-Mem-Resh-Tauv-Yud
and Nun-Shin-Mem-Resh-Nun-Vav mean
I watched and we were watched respectively.
The rules for Hebrew grammar are carefully described
in many modern books and are well known. Rashi will sometimes comment when a verse is using a rare conjugation
of an odd grammatical form.
When presenting grammatical Rashis my favorite
reference is the appendix in volume 5 of the Ibn Shoshan
dictionary. This very short appendix lists most
the prohibition of doing work on the Passover
And in the first day there shall be a holy convocation,
and in the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation to you;
no kind of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat,
only that may be done by you.
Rashi translates the Biblical word
as coming from the Biblical root
We have conveniently embedded the Rashi translation in the
translation of the verse. The conjugation rule governing this Biblical
word may be found by using table(s)
in the Ibn Shoshan dictionary for the
Very Advanced Rashi:
There is a simple rule of grammar which states that
- Always use the active mode (Qal)
- Unless you wish to emphasize the activity vs. the person doing it in which
case you use the Nifal or passive mode.
In this case by using the passive mode the verse emphasis is not,
you shouldn't do work but rather the work should not
be done. Hence the Rashi comment: The work should not be done whether
by you or by someone else you hire. Both are prohibited on the holiday.
It is interesting that this rule of grammar is common to many languages.