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.
Today Rashi examines the Hebrew root
Cheth-Lamed-Tzade. It is interesting how both Rashi and
Radack approach the meaning of this root. They state: Language indicating
removal. If you read the Rashi-Radack comment properly they are not
saying it means removal but rather that it is language indicating
removal. Neither Rashi nor Radack go further.
The Rashi/Radacak are explicitly incomplete. They indicate the general
direction of meaning without explaining the exact meaning. I regard these Rashi
comments, not as authoratative declarations of Biblical meaning, but rather as a sort
of homework assignment, to review the usages of the root and find the exact nuances.
Reviewing several verses using the word Cheth-Lamed-Tzade, or, reviewing the
list of Biblical meanings, provided by the Radack who also lists sample verses, we find
that cheth-lamed-tzade can mean
- removal of shoes
- removal of stones from a house
- removal of captives from captivity
- removal of breasts (from under the garments) for purposes of nursing
- removal of a sword from its sheath.
Performing the homework assignment given by Rashi we see that
The basic idea seems to be removal of something that is meant to stay in place.
- removal against a physical resistance (shoes, house stones, captives)
- removal that is typically not socially acceptable (breasts, swords).
Advanced Rashi: We advocate enriching the Rashi experience with short
terse punchy translations capturing the Rashi comment. In this case I would translate
cheth-lamed-tzade as meaning yank. Hence we would translate verse
Then the priest shall command that they yank the house-stones in which the disease is, and they shall throw them into an unclean place outside the city;