The special word method deals with the
few dozen special words that exist in all languages.
Familiar examples are also, when, that, because, only,
this,.... Rashi's job, when he comments on a special connective
words, is to list the varied nuances and usages of the word.
The most famous example is the Hebrew word Kaph Yud
which can mean because, that, when, perhaps, rather, if.
Sometimes Rashi explicitly gives all meanings of a connective
word as happens with Kaph Yud while at other times
Rashi does not give all meanings at once. In such a case the
student must gather all the meanings together from various
The Hebrew word ZEH meaning this always
denotes something pointed to. The list below presents
several examples illustrating this fundamental method.
And this is the workmanship of the lampstand was of hammered gold, its shaft, its flowers, was hammered work; according to the pattern which the Lord had shown Moses, so he made the lampstand.
God pointed to a Menorah of fire to facilitate Moses understanding
Speak to the people of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which you shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth.
God pointed to fire images of the Kosher animals to facilitate Moses
In the third month, when the people of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt,
on this day they came into the wilderness of Sinai.
The phrase This day puns today (which can be pointed at). The
verse puns as it were Today you receive the Torah. The verse emphasizes
that you shouldn't think of the Torah as something given 2000 years ago but
rather something given today. Conceptually, the Torah should be thought of as
not belonging to any particular period.
Sermonic points: The Rashi is both psychological and
political. Pschologically we are not studying something received 2000
years ago but something received today. Politically this Rashi attacks
philosophical positions that the Torah, however great, exists within
history at a certain time. Rather, the verse teaches us, that the Torah
is equally relevant to each period of history including the current one.