Today Hebrew grammar is well understood and
there are many books on it. Rashi, however, lived
before the age of grammar books. A major Rashi method
is therefore the teaching of basic grammar.
Many students belittle this aspect of Rashi. They erroneously
think that because of modern methods we know more. However Rashi
will frequently focus on rare grammatical points not covered
in conventional textbooks.
There are many classical aspects to grammar whether
in Hebrew or other languages. They include
- The rules for conjugating verbs. These rules govern how you
differentiate person, plurality, tense, mode, gender, mood, and
designation of the objects and indirect objects of the verb. For
example how do you conjugate, in any language, I sang, we will
sing, we wish to sing, she sang it.
- Rules of agreement. For example agreement of subject
and verb, of noun and adjective; whether agreement in gender or plurality.
- Rules of Pronoun reference.
- Rules of word sequence. This is a beautiful topic which is
not always covered in classical grammatical textbooks.
Today we illustrate a powerful but little understood rule common to all languages -
apposition. Very roughly apposition consists of breaking up a phrase
mid-sentence. Instead of stating the whole phrase you instead break it up - tersely
stating the main idea and then later on in the sentence filling in details. Such a technique, although sounding strange, has a very powerful effect on the reader who
is forced to focus and concentrate more fully.
A classical example is Is63-07, I will recount the kindness of God, the things we praise him on. The author in beautiful poetic style converts this
verse with apposition. The actual reading is as follows: The kindness of God I will recount, the things we praise God on. By breaking the phrase
kindness of God, the things we praise him on into two phrases placed at different
points of the verse the author achieves powerful poetic effect forcing the reader
and listener to focus with more attention.
Verse Gn24-67a wishes to state Isaac brought her into the tent of his
mother Sarah but instead through the use of apposition states