We have explained in our article
Biblical Formatting located on the world wide web at
that the Biblical Author indicated bullets
by using repeating keywords.
That is, if a modern
author wanted to get a point across using bullets -
a list of similar but contrastive items -
then the Biblical
Author would use repeating keywords.
Today's verse illustrates this principle.
Bullets whether indicated through modern notation or
through the Biblical method of repeating keywords always indicate
contrastive emphasis - that is, each bullet is presumed
to be a distinct item contrasted to the other items on the list. Very often
the bullets are also used to indicate that the entire list is exhaustive
of some spectrum.
the requirement for priests to wash their hands and legs states
And Aaron and his sons shall wash from it [the lavere]
The repeated underlined phrase (the Hebrew word)
creates a bullet effect. The bullet effect in turn
creates an emphasis on the distinctness of all enumerated items.
Rashi interprets the distinctness as follows
Although it is preferred for Priests to wash their hands and legs together
(as indicated above in rule #4) nevertheless if they washed
their legs separately and their hands separately it is a valid washing.
- eth their hands
- eth their legs
Rashi does not actually say this interpretation. Furthermore, Rambam, in his great legal code,
in the laws of Coming to the Temple, Chapter 5, throughout, especially law 14, does not
explicitly (or implicitly) mention the above law. My thinking however is as follows. We have
always seen that bullets create distinct emphasis. The distinct emphasis here would be that
hands are washed separately and legs are washed separately. However as shown above in rule #4, alignment
this is not the preferred method. We would then conclude that if they did wash hands and legs separately
it did not invalidate the Temple service that followed. At any rate this is a novelty not discussed, nor contradicted,
elsewhere in Jewish sources.
It might be worthwhile to approach this matter symbolically. The legs symbolize ones social
circle the people one walks with. The hands symbolize ones actions. It is preferable
to sanctify ones action and social circle together; after all ones actions are not typically done solo, rather,