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 deal with the topic of single-plural. Verse Lv18-29
concluding a long chapter prohibiting forbidden sexual relations, states
For he who does any of the abominations - the people doing them, they
will be cut of from their nation.
Note the gentle but forceful change from singular to plural, emphasized by the
underlined words - he, they, their. Rashi comments:
By using the plural the Bible emphasizes that both males and females are liable.
Advanced Rashi: There is a subtlety to this Rashi. The previous chapter dealt
with sexual sins. The various laws are introduced with a man a man shall not come close to exposing
nakedness...whoever sleeps with his sister..... Thus I might think that only the man (who initiates sexual sin)
is punished with cutoff. The Bible therefore emphasizes that the people doing these things, they will be cut off.
This is further emphasized in e.g. Lv20-10 both the adulterer and adulteress shall be put to death.