Their presence in Rashis on Parshat VaYayRaH Vol 8, # 3 - Adapted from Rashi-is-Simple
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The goal of this Weekly Rashi Digest is to use the weekly Torah portion to expose students at all levels to the ten major methods of commentary used by Rashi. It is hoped that continual weekly exposure to these ten major methods will enable students of all levels to acquire a familiarity and facility with the major exegetical methods.
Verse Gn19-17 discussing the prohibition, during the destruction of Sedom and Amorah, of Lot staying in the plain states And it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, Escape for your life; look not behind you, nor stay in the plain; escape to the mountain, lest you be consumed. Rashi notes The underlined word, plain, references verse Gn13-10 which states that Lot was attracted to Sedom because of the fertile Jordan plain.
When Rashi uses the synonym method he does not explain the meaning of a word but rather the distinction between two similar words both of whose meanings we already know.
Today's examples illustrate the differences between urgent and hurry or between escape and save. When expounding on the synonym principle the simplest way of explaining the Rashi is to translate the verse with the proposed Rashi synonym meaning incorporated in the translation. Today's Rashi example are presented in the translation immediately below:
Verse Gn19-15:17 discussing the saving of Lot prior to the destruction of Sedom and Amorah states At dawn the angels were urgent with Lot, saying; Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you will be swept away away in the iniquity of the city. But he lingered, and the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the Lord being merciful to him; and they brought him out, and set him outside the city. And it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, Escape for your life; look not behind you, nor stay in the plain; escape to the mountain, lest you be consumed.
Hebrew is a gender language. Feminine forms of nouns can reflect items that are passively related [=femail] to some dominant [=male] concept. For example, the Hebrew word for testament, Ayin-Daleth-Hey, is the feminine form of the word for testimony, Ayin-Daleth. Here the testament is seen as passively bound and fixed to permanantly testify and commemorate some event.
An example occurs in Gn21-30b, which states And he said, These seven ewe lambs shall you take from my hand, that they may be a testament to me, that I have dug this well.
It is always a special treat to defend, as simple and spontaneous, a Rashi which appears as homiletic, exegetical and forced. Today we present a peachy example illustrating this technique.
Sermonic points: The Rashi clarifies the miracle of why Lot who willfully chose Sedom and Amorah was saved. He kept quiet about Sarah's true identity. He participated in the expulsion from Egypt and commemorated him and Abraham being saved. The Angels came to him while he was perfoming this commemoration. They thereby emphasized to Lot his inner spiritual qualities which were masked by his material desires. These spiritual qualities merited him to be saved.
The above Rashi - that Lot was observing Passover - may have initially appeared homiletic. Yet we have put it on a sound foundation. We have shown an underlying unity between the beginning of the 400 years - The Abrahamitic expulsion from Egypt - and the end of the 400 years - The Jewish expulsion from Egypt. The Rashi now appears plausible expressing a deep underlyling unity between our founding Patriarch and his children.
Praise be him who chose them and their learning.
The table below presents presents two contradictory verses. Both verses speak about The water Abraham left for Hagar/Ishmael when he banished them The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says And Abraham arose up early in the morning, and took bread and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away; and she departed, and strayed in the wilderness of Beer-sheba. [Presumably he gave her enough water to reach the nearest civilization] while the other verse states And the water in the bottle was used up, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. Which is it? Did Abraham give enough water for expulsion or was the water used up? Rashi simply resolves this using the 2 Aspects method: Abraham gave enough water for two healthy people to reach civilization. But the boy had a fever requiring a large consumption of water. Hence the water was used up quicker than expected.
Certain Biblical paragraphs are stated in a Theme-Development-Theme form. In other words a broad general idea is stated first followed by the development of this broad general theme in specific details. The paragraph-like unit is then closed with a repetition of the broad theme. The Theme-Detail-Theme form creates a unified paragraph. The detailed section of this paragraph is therefore seen as an extension of the general theme sentences. Today's example illustrates this as shown immediately below.
Rashi comments on the Theme-Detail-Theme form which creates the illusion of an entire paragraph. Although she sat far away - a bow shot -so as Not to see the death of the child nevertheless she sat opposite the child. That is she was opposite the child but at a distance. She didn't want to see the child die and hence sat far away. But she wanted to sit close enough to him in case a miracle happened and she could save him.
Sermonic Points: Rashi's point is extremely subtle. The secularist sees prayer as an emotional outpouring, a letting off of steam. The religious person sees prayer as an emotional outpouring to God. Hagar was indeed upset that the child would die. But her prayer was to God. She was used to seeing miracles in Abraham's house and left open the possibility that God would miraculously save her child.
We have explained in our article Biblical Formatting located on the world wide web at http://www.Rashiyomi.com/biblicalformatting.pdf, that the Biblical Author indicates bold, italics, underline by using repetition. In other words if a modern author wanted to emphasize a word they would either underline, bold or italicize it. However when the Biblical author wishes to emphasize a word He repeats it. The effect - whether thru repetition or using underline - is the same. It is only the means of conveying this emphasis that is different.
When a modern author wishes to deemphasize a concept they will strike it out. When the Biblical author wishes to deemphasize a concept He places dots over it. The dots in the Biblical version, or the strikeout in the modern version, indicate deemphasis.
Advanced Rashi: Each of the above Rashis might look homiletic by itself. However the list of Rashis creates an aura of credibility that we would otherwise not be able to achieve. The list of examples is thus an important vehicle for understanding and explaining difficult Rashis.
Rashi actually gives a more detailed technical explanation. Rashi distinguishes between cases when the number of dots on the word is more than the number of letters. However the above set of explanations is straightforward and does not require such technicalities.
Sermonic points: Rashi derives etiquette from the above inference: It is proper etiquette for a guest to ask each spouse about the other spouse. Presumably such asking creates a sense that the guest is equally interested in both partners.
We ask the following database query: What personality attributes did Lot have? The reader is encouraged to perform the query using a standard Biblical Konnkordance or search engine. This database query yields the list below. The list justifies the following Rashi inference: Lot was basically a materialistic person. Yet we also find many noble traits such as pursuit of justice and hospitality. It seems reasonable that Lot learned his more noble traits from Abraham who was also known for his pursuit of Justice and Charity. The list below presents the results of the database query.
Sermonic points: There is a profound sermonic point to be inferred from this Rashi. Any person, no matter how materialistic, can acquire nobler personality traits by associating with spiritually gifted people. The idea of teaching by example is a fundamental tenet in all outreach groups today.
Verse Gn18-33a completing a paragraph where God and Abraham discuss the possibility of saving Sedom and Amorah from destruction, states And the LORD went His way, when he completed speaking with Abraham; and Abraham returned unto his place Rashi comments: This teaches court etiquette. A Judge should not declare a final verdict until all defense arguments have been presented.
This week's parshah contains no examples of the symbolism Rashi method. Visit the RashiYomi website at http://www.Rashiyomi.com for further details and examples.