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 rules of transforming
nouns into verbs.
Although most conjugation rules refer to the
conjugation of verbs, there are also conjugation
rules for transfroming nouns into verbs.
We list several common methods for transforming nouns
- create the noun: e.g. to flower
- remove the noun: e.g. to dust
- use the noun: e.g. to hammer
- the verb(activity) done to this noun: e.g.
Dt21-04b: neck the calf in other words kill it with
a blow to the neck
Applying this rule we see that the verb form to tent would mean
creating tents or doing the normal activity of tents, pitching them.
Hence the following Rashi-verse combination:
Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the Plain, but tented as far as Sodom.
He dwelt in the Plain Cities, but he tented, that is pitched many tents
for his numerous livestock and staff and these tents reached to Sedom.