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      3. RASHI METHOD: GRAMMAR
      BRIEF EXPLANATION: Rashi explains verses using grammar principles, that is, rules which relate reproducable word form to word meaning. Grammatical rules neatly fall into 3 categories
      • (a) the rules governing conjugation of individual words,Biblical roots,
      • (b) the rules governing collections of words,clauses, sentences
      • (c) miscellaneous grammatical, or form-meaning, rules.
      This examples applies to Rashis Gn32-19a
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/gn32-19a.htm
      Brief Summary: Proper etiquette and grammar require answering a series of questions with a series of answers in the same order.

Today anyone wanting to learn Hebrew can take a course and learn Biblical Hebrew grammar. But in Rashi's time Grammar was just beginning. One of Rashi's major tasks was to teach basic Hebrew Grammar the same way we find in modern Hebrew textbooks. Modern Hebrew Grammar deals with such issues as conjugation of verbs, indication of possessive pronouns, gender etc. Today's example illustrates this.

    Verse Gn32-18 states three questions: And he commanded the foremost, saying, When Esau my brother meets you, and asks you, saying,
    1. Whose are you? and
    2. where are you going? and
    3. whose are these before you?
    Gn32-19 states a corresponding 3 responses Then you shall say,
    1. They are your servant Jacobís;
    2. it is a present sent to my lord Esau; and, behold, also
    3. he is behind us.

Thus Rashi here teaches the grammatical rules governing answering questions: A sequence of answers following a sequence of questions should be parallel: That is the first answer responds to the first question, the second answer responds to the second question, etc. This parallel rule is depicted above in the numbered lists.

Advanced Rashi: We have presented this Rashi as grammatical. But most people see this Rashi as indicating etiquette: It is proper etiquette to answer questions sequentially, rather than in a random order.

The reason for the grammatical and etiquette rule are the same. It is less burdensome on the listener if you use the same order of inquiry in your answers. Both grammar and etiquette are equally interested in minimizing listener confusion.


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