To properly understand the word meaning Rashi today we use two Rashi meaning principles.
- Metonomy / Synechdoche: Metonomy and synechdoche are principles universal to all languages. Metonomy simply says that
you can name something by a good example of it. For example the word honey can refer
to any sweet thing. Here honey is a good example of sweetness.
Similarly day is a good example of the entire 24 hours period.
- Aleph = thing / person: This idea was introduced by Rashi and championed by
Rabbi Hirsch. Lets give some simple examples. Gimel-Lamed means to roll so that
Aleph-Gimel-Lamed would be a droplet a thing that rolls, Similarly
Caph-Resh means to dig so that Aleph-Caph-Resh means the farmer
the person who digs.
Using the above principles we can explain the varied meanings of Aleph-Tzade-Lamed.
Aleph-Tzade-Lamed means near. This uses the metonomy
prinicple. An objects shade is a good example of nearness.
Here we have identified Aleph-Tzade-Lamed with Tzade-Lamed, shade, and have not given
special emphasis to the aleph (though it is easy to work it in).
Aleph-Tzade-Lamed means protective people, leaders. Here we can use both
meaning principles explained above.
A good example of a protective person is a person (Aleph) who provides shade (Tzade-Lamed.)
Aleph-Tzade-Lamed also means big-armed. Here again we use metonomy.Big armed people are good examples
of protective people.
In Nu11-17c God promises to take some, but not all, of Moses' prophetic spirit and give
it to the 70 chosen elders. We can metaphorically refer to this partial giving as shading.
This is a coined term - the shade/shadow resembles the original object but is only a partial replica of
it. Here too we have metonomy.
We would therefore translate Nu11-16:17c as follows: Select 70 people...and I will come
down and speak to you and shade from your prophetic capacity on them so that they can help
out with running the nation. Such a translation, although coined, has a nice ring even in English.