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 Rashi gives an example of the construct rule. First we
explain the construct in English. In English we indicate the construct
by placing the word of after a noun. So the difference between
The pen is red vs. The pen of John is red is that pen of
indicates possession. This indication of possession is accomplished
by using the construct form which in turn is indicated by using the word of.
In Hebrew the construct form is indicated by a different conjugation of the
word. For example Kutoneth is the Hebrew word referring to the noun, coat.
Ketoneth is the construct form indicating possession, coat of Joseph.
Because both forms occur in the same verse Rashi felt obligated to clarify their difference