The bulk of traditional Biblical Hebrew grammar deals with the conjugation of
verbs and nouns. However Biblical Hebrew grammar also deals with other issues such
as a) pronoun reference, b) gender/ plurality agreement, c) adjectives /adverbs / determiners,
d) compound nouns/ verbs/ sentences, e) possessives, and f) use of connective words.
Today Rashi deals with the connective Biblical word, Vav. In Biblical
Hebrew Vav can be translated as meaning any logical connective such as and, or, but, if, then,...
To fully understand this Rashi we cite a beautiful Malbim explaining the use of
the Hebrew Vav. Malbim suggests three principles:
- In a simple command Vav means and; For example,
Take on the first day of Succoth an ethrog, and lulav, and myrtles
and willows (Lv23-40.)
- In a simple prohibition vav means or; for example, don't abuse
[either] a widow or an orphan (Ex22-21)
- In a conditional statement there is a controversy between Rabbi Oshia and Rabbi
Yonathan whether Vav means and or or. Malbim ingeniously cites
two dozen Talmudic passages where this controversy occurs. Rashi translates in accordance
with the opinion that it means or. For example Rashi translates Ex21-15
as follows: [if] you smite [either] your father or your
mother [then] you receive a death penalty.