We have explained in our article
Biblical Formatting located on the world wide web at
that the Biblical Author indicates bold, italics, underline by using
repetition. In other words if a modern author wanted to emphasize
a word they would either underline, bold or italicize it. However when the Biblical
author wishes to emphasize a word He repeats it. The effect - whether
thru repetition or using underline - is the same. It is only the
means of conveying this emphasis that is different.
With this in mind let us read verse
which discusses apostasy. The discussion
develops in three pairs of bulleted texts.
The bullets are indicated by the underlined
repeating keywords. With each verselet we
present the Rashi comment. After the citation we explain
how the bullet rule gives rise
to the comments, not language and grammar. Many serious
students of Rashi have errored by misunderstanding Rashi
as emanating only from language and Grammar.
The six verselets describing apostasy are:
- But if you do not listen to me [Don't study], and
- do not do [Don't perform] all these commandments;
- And if my statutes [religious laws] are despised
- and if my civil cases[interpersonal civil laws] are loathed by your soul
- until you don't do any of my commandments
[Don't contribute to help others perform and actively interfer with others performing],
- until you break my covenant;[Apostasy]
We now explain what Rashi did, and did not, do. In the first set
of bullets Rashi interprets the Biblical word pair, listen-do as referring to learning-perform.
Rashi did not do this because of requirements of language. Indeed, listen
can equally mean study or performance. Similarly do can easily
mean study-performance together. Rather because the repeating
underlined keyword do not create a bullet atmosphere, therefore, Rashi
was justified in reading into the listen-do sequence the interpretation
In the second set of bullets we use the grammar-word-order rule which we
reviewed in rule #3 above. Hebrew is a verb-object language. A reversal
of this order (e.g. civil laws despised vs. despise my civil laws) indicates
unpsecified emphasis. When we couple this emphasis with the repeating underlined keyword, if,
we see that Rashi choses to emphasize the specific nuances of statute and civil law,
which very roughly refer to religious vs. civil law.
Again it was not the word meaning which drove Rashi to this. Indeed, in many verses, the
word statute by itself can refer to all laws just as the word civil law by itself
can refer to all Jewish laws.
Because of the third set of bullets, indicated by the underlined keyword, until,
Rashi contrasts commandments vs. treaty,
as differentiating non-performance vs. apostasy / denial. Rashi sees further nuances
in the repeating keyword, until. Rashi interprets this to mean a general development over
time of non-performance and treaty violation. Hence, this is interpreted broadly to refer to being annoyed
by community performance of commandments and outright denial of God.
Sermonic Points: One does not just get up and suddenly deny God. Apostasy
takes place as a gradual process. The above 6 verselets present a 6-stage process as follows:
- One stops learning every day
- One forgets and doesn't perform every law
- In one's dinner conversations with one's friends, the trans-rational laws are attacked
- One doesn't bother to understand Jewish civil law; one attacks the rational laws.
- When the above 4 happen over a period of time the hatred of the law turns outward to
other people - commandments should not be performed because they are rediculous.
- Finally, after having been cut off from learning, performance, appreciation and community,
apostasy naturally evolves (With nothing to stop it).