Certain Biblical paragraphs are stated in a Theme-Development-Theme form.
In other words a broad general idea is stated first followed by the development
of this broad general theme in specific details. The paragraph-like unit is then
closed with a repetition of the broad theme.
The Theme-Detail-Theme form creates a unified paragraph.
The detailed section of this paragraph is therefore seen as
an extension of the general theme sentences.
Today's example illustrates
this as shown immediately below.
Dt06 - Dt07-26
the reward for observing God's commandments
- General Theme: Observe God's commandments---it will be good for you:
These are the commandments, the statutes and the laws that Ad-noy, your G-d,
commanded to teach you to fulfill in the land that you are crossing over there to inherit.
....You will heed, Yisroel, ....so that you will multiply exceedingly, ...--- a land flowing milk and honey.
- Details: Particular Commandments to observe:
You are to love Ad-noy, your G-d, with all your heart, ....
- You are to teach them to your children and you are to discuss them, when you sit at home, and when you journey on the road, and when you go to sleep, and when you rise.
- You are to tie them as a sign on your arm
[Tefillin] and they are to be totafos between your eyes.
- You are to write them on the doorposts of your house,
[Mezuzoth]and on your gateposts.....
- Do not make a treaty with them [The Canaanite nations]...
- and do not do favors to them.....
- Do not inter-marry them [With the Canaanite nations];...
- General Theme: Observe God's commandments--it will be good for you:
As a consequence of your heeding these laws, G-d, will guard for you the covenant ....
He will love, bless and multiply you;
Rashi generalizes the detail clause
observe Mezuzah, learn, don't intermarry
as illustrative of the general clause,
do God's commandments and you will reap reward,
There is reward even for minor commandments such as Mezuzah; how
much more so for major commandments.
We believe this comment evident and consistent with the Rabbi Ishmael style guidelines.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi notes that many items in the detail section in the above passage deal with symbolic, emotional,
and informational items, love, teaching, Tefillin, Mezuzoth, favors. People tend to
belittle such laws as non-important since they are means to an end. The important law is not to forsake
one's own religion. Consequently Rashi paraphrased interprets the detail section as prototypical
The Torah promises Gods providence in exchange for the Jews following all commandments of
separation from the Canaanite nations. This includes both major items such as the obligation
to conquer them and the prohibition of worshipping idols as well as minor items such as the
symbolic, emotional and intellectual commandments affirming our values against those of the Canaanites.
This includes the commandments such as love, symbols (Tefillin, Mezuzah), education, lack of favors to the Canaanites etc.
The traditional interpretation of this Rashi comment, as found in modern
and midieval Rashi commentators, focuses on the strange Hebrew word used
for consequence, Ayin-Kuph-Beth which normally means heel. In English also the
phrase such and such came in the heels of such and such can connote causality. Rashi seems
however to make a pun on the word heel: The Bible speaks about minor commandments which people
step on with their heels. This literal Rashi phrase suggested to many people that
Rashi's focus in this verse was the unusual Hebrew word Ayin Kuph Beth. We however believe
that the explanation we presented above, focusing on the overall structure of the Biblical
paragraph is deeper, sounder and more mature. True, Rashi expressed this sound idea
by creating a pun on the Hebrew word Ayin Kuph Beth--heel-consequence-despise. However
it would appear that the primary reason for the Rashi comment is the paragraph structure