The 10 RashiYomi Rules
Their presence in Rashis on Parshat VaYayRaH
Vol 8, # 3
- Adapted from Rashi-is-Simple
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(c) RashiYomi Incorporated, Dr. Hendel, President, Oct 25th, 2007

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.

    BRIEF EXPLANATION: Commentary on a verse is provided thru a cross-reference to another verse. The cross references can either provide
    • (1a) further details,
    • (1b) confirm citations, or
    • (1c) clarify word meaning.
    This examples applies to Rashis Gn19-17c
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: The Angelic admonition Do not stay in the PLAIN(Gn19-17) CROSS REFERENCES the fertile Jordan plain which initially attracted LOT (Gn13-10).

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.

Text of Target Verse Gn19-17 Text of Reference Verse Gn13-10
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. And Lot lifted up his eyes, and saw the Jordan plain, that it was well watered everywhere, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as you come to Zoar.
Rashi comments: The Angels, when they destroyed Sedom and Amorah, forbade Lot from remaining in the plain. Here the reference is to the Jordan plain which first attracted Lot to the Sedom region.

      BRIEF EXPLANATION: The meaning of words can be explained either by
      • (2a) translating an idiom, a group of words whose collective meaning transcends the meaning of its individual component words,
      • (2b) explaining the nuances and commonality of synonyms-homographs,
      • (2c) describing the usages of connective words like also,because,if-then, when,
      • (2d) indicating how grammatical conjugation can change word meaning
      • (2e) changing word meaning using the figures of speech common to all languages such as irony and oxymorons.
      This examples applies to Rashis Gn19-15a Gn19-17e
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: ALEPH-TZADE means BE URGENT (Not hurry); MEM-LAMED-TET means ESCAPE (not save)

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.

      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 Gn21-30b
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: The feminine form of the TESTIMONY is TESTAMENT. A TESTAMENT is a TESTIMONY that is SUBSERVIENT (=Female) to commemoration of some event.

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.

    BRIEF EXPLANATION: Aligning two almost identically worded verselets can suggest
    • (4a) 2 cases of the same incident or law
    • (4b) emphasis on the nuances of a case
    • (4c) use of broad vs literal usage of words
    This examples applies to Rashis Gn19-03b
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: Abraham cooked CAKE:Lot cooked MATZOH. Lot commemorated Abraham's swift expulsion from Egypt at which time he ate MATZOH.

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.

    The table below presents an aligned extract of verses in Gn19-03b, Gn18-06 Both verses discuss the food prepared for the Angels. The alignment justifies the Rashi assertion that
  • Abraham prepared cakes
  • Lot prepared Matzoh
  • Matzoh is associated with Passover
  • The Jews ate Matzoh because they were expelled from Egypt and didn't have time to bake bread
  • But the exodus from Egypt culminated a 400 year prophecy
  • That 400 year prophecy begins with Abraham's expulsion from Egypt for lying about his wife that she is his sister
    • But if Abraham was expelled at the beginning of the 400 years
    • ...and the Jews were expelled at the end of the 400 years
    • Then just as the Jews didn't have time for Bread but only for Matzoh
    • So too it is reasonable that Abraham didn't have time to bake bread but Matzoh
    • Just as the Jews commemorate their Exodus with a Matzoh holiday
    • So to is it reasonable to assume that Abraham and Lot commemorated their Exodus with a Matzoh holiday
  • Hence we conclude that Lot was eating Matzoh since he was celebrating/commemorating the Matzoh Exodus/expulsion of him and Abraham from Egypt.

Verse Text of Verse Rashi comment
Gn19-03b And he [Lot] urged them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake Matzoh, and they did eat Abraham baked cake; Lot baked Matzoh;
Gn18-06 And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said: 'Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes
    We know that
  • Matzoh is associated with Passover
  • Jews were expelled from Egypt; they did not have time to bake bread but only time to bake Matzoh
  • Thus the Matzoh Holiday Passover serves to commemorate the original Exodus
  • The Egyptian exodus culminates a 400 year prophecy which ends with the Jewish Exodus and begins with the Abrahamitic exodus from Egypt
        Just as
      • the Jews were expelled
      • and only had time to bake Matzoh not bread
      • and commemorated their exodus with a Matzoh holiday
        So to
      • Abraham was expelled
      • and presumably only had time to bake Matzoh not bread
      • and presumably commemorated his exodus with a Matzoh holiday which Lot was observing when the Angels came

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.

      BRIEF EXPLANATION:Rashi resolves contradictory verses using 3 methods.
      • (5a) Resolution using two aspects of the same event
      • (5b) Resolution using two stages of the same process
      • (5c) Resolution using broad-literal interpretation.
      This example applies to Rashis Gn21-15a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: Abraham gave Hagar ENOUGH water but the water was USED UP, because her son had a fever and needed alot of water.

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.

Summary Verse / Source Text of verse / Source
Abraham banishes Hagar and her son and gives them [presumably enough] water Gn21-14 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]
The water was used up Gn21-15 And the water in the bottle was used up, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs.
Resolution: 2 Aspects Abraham gave enough water for two healthy people to reach civilization. But the boy had a fever requiring large consumption of water. Hence the water wore out.

    Rashi examines how rules of style influences inferences between general and detail statements in paragraphs.
    • Example: Every solo example stated by the Bible must be broadly generalized;
    • Theme-Detail: A general principle followed by an example is interpreted restrictively---the general theme statement only applies in the case of the example;
    • Theme-Detail-Theme: A Theme-Detail-Theme unit is interpreted as a paragraph. Consequently the details of the paragraph are generalized so that they are seen as illustrative of the theme.
    This examples applies to Rashis Gn21-16a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: She sat OPPOSITE but FAR (A Bow's shot)

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.

    Verses Gn21-16b discussing Hagar's distancing herself from her dying child states
    • General: And she went, and sat her down for herself opposite him
    • Details: at a distance of a bow shot; for she said: 'Let me not look upon the death of the child.'
    • General: And she sat opposite, and lifted up her voice, and wept

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.

    BRIEF EXPLANATION:Inferences from Biblical formatting:
    • Use of repetition to indicate formatting effects: bold,italics,...;
    • use of repeated keywords to indicate a bullet effect;
    • rules governing use and interpretation of climactic sequence;
    • rules governing paragraph development and discourse
    This examples applies to Rashis Gn18-09a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: The angels said WHERE IS YOUR SPOUSE Rashi: Strike out the words TO HIM. They said it to both!

We have explained in our article Biblical Formatting located on the world wide web at, 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.

    There are 6 examples of dotting or strikeout in the Bible. They are presented in the list below along with the accompanying Rashi interpretation. In each case Rashi interprets the verse as if the word was Stricken out.
    • Nu03-39a: All that were numbered of the Levites, whom Moses and Aaron numbered at the commandment of HaShem, by their families, all the males from a month old and upward, were twenty and two thousand. Rashi: Aaron was stricken from the census--that is he wasn't counted since he was a Levite.
    • Gn33-04a: And Esau ran to meet him [Jacob], and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him; and they wept. Rashi: The kiss should be stricken from the record! It wasn't a real (i.e. sincere) kiss since Esau really hated Jacob.
    • Dt29-29a: The secret things [sins] belong unto HaShem our G-d; but the things [sins] that are revealed belong [are visited] unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law. Rashi: Revealed should be stricken. Revealed sins weren't always visited upon the community; they weren't visited upon the community till after the conquest of Israel in the time of Joshua.
    • Gn37-12a: And his brethren went to shepard their father's flock in Shechem. Rashi: The word shepard should be stricken out since they didn't really go to shepard sheep; rather they went to escape their father who favored Joseph.
    • Nu09-10a: Speak unto the children of Israel, saying: If any man of you or of your generations shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey afar off, yet he shall keep the passover unto HaShem; Rashi: The requirement far off should be stricken. One need not be absolutely far away - but far away enough not to be able to come to Jerusalem.
    • Gn18-09: And they said to him: 'Where is Sarah thy wife?' And he said: 'Behold, in the tent.' Rashi: The phrase to him should be stricken. They said it generally, not just to him. When they met Abraham they said to him where is your spouse. Similarly when they met Sarah they said where is your spouse.

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.

      BRIEF EXPLANATION:Rashi makes inferences from Database queries. The precise definition of database query has been identified in modern times with the 8 operations of Sequential Query Language (SQL).

      This example applies to Rashis Gn19-01d
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: Lot despite his materialistic personality. preached justice and was hospitable - traits learned from Abraham.

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.

Verses (Im)Moral? Personality traits of Lot, inferred from the Verses
Gn19-33 Immoral Lot committed incest.
Gn13-07 Immoral Lot fought/bickered with Abraham over property
Gn13-10 Immoral Lot sought materialism even in bad neighborhoods
Gn19-09 Moral Lot was a respected Judge in Sedom
Gn19-05:07 Moral Lot fought against homosexual rape
Gn19-01:02 Moral Lot was hospitable.

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.

      9. RASHI METHOD: NonVerse
      BRIEF EXPLANATION: The common denominator of the 3 submethods of the NonVerse method is that inferences are made from non textual material. The 3 submethods are as follows:
      • Spreadsheet: Rashi makes inferences of a numerical nature that can be summarized in a traditional spreadsheet
      • Geometric: Rashi clarifies a Biblical text using descriptions of geometric diagrams
      • Fill-ins: Rashi supplies either real-world background material or indicates real-world inferences from a verse. The emphasis here is on the real-world, non-textual nature of the material.
      This examples applies to Rashis Gn18-33a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: GOD LEFT AFTER TALKING TO ABRAHAM. Teaches court etiquette- listen to all arguments before closing.

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 Rashi inference is straightforward. We use it to illustrate the essence of the FillIn method. When Rashi uses the FillIn method he is not
  • Explaining the meaning of word
  • Clarifying grammatical conjugation
  • Clarifying nuances from other verses, alignments with other verses or apparent contradictions with other verses
  • clarifying the meaning implied by paragraph style
  • explaining symbols
  • performing broad database queries on Biblical issues
  • clarifying the unspecified emphasis in formatting.
Rather, Fill-In communicates non-verse-inferred lessons derived from the Biblical text. The emphasis here is on non-verse. Unlike the other Rashi methods where something is inferred from either this verse or other Biblical verses, the Fill-In derives consequences (or presents necessary background) to understanding a verse without such derivations being even hinted at in the text. It is so to speak, a real-world derivation.


This week's parshah contains no examples of the symbolism Rashi method. Visit the RashiYomi website at for further details and examples.