Their presence in Rashis on Parshat ToLeDoTh Vol 8, # 5 - 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 Gn25-01 discussing discussing Abraham's 2nd marriage after Sarah's death states And Abraham took another wife, and her name was Keturah. Rashi notes: The underlined word, Keturah..., references verse 1C01-32 discussing the children of Keturah, Abraham's concubine, states And the sons of Keturah, Abraham's concubine: she bore Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah. And the sons of Jokshan: Sheba, and Dedan. But Verse Gn15-03 discussing Abraham's taking Sarah's maid as a concubine states And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar the Egyptian, her handmaid, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to Abram her husband to be his wife. Hence, the single Concubine referred to in 1C01-32 refers to one person with the two names, Keturah and Hagar.
Advanced Rashi: Below in rule #5, Contradiction we will discuss the contradiction that verse Gn25-06 refers to the sons of the concubines [Plural] while verse 1C01-32 refers to the concubine of Abraham [Singular]. Roughly we shall show that this indicates that we have one person with two stages of maturity in life reflected by her two names.
Every language has a set of words that function as connectives. Examples of such words are in, on, because, that, also, rather, .... Frequently such connective words have multiple meanings. Rashi will list the meanings of each word.
We have mirrored the Hebrew pun with an English pun. The actual Hebrew pun looks at the Hebrew word which is pronounced Gimel-Vav-Yud-Mem, meaning nations but written, misspelled Gimel-Yud-Yud-Mem, meaning great people. The use of deliberate misspelllings to communicate secondary nuances is known as metaplasmus.
Advanced Rashi: People think puns are a luxury not necessarily intended by the author. Not so! Puns are like any other literary device. For further details read my article Biblical Puns located at url http://www.Rashiyomi.com/puns.pdf
The table below presents an aligned extract of verses in Gn25-24a, Gn38-27 Both verses discuss pregnant women giving birth. The alignment justifies the Rashi assertion that Rivkah had a full 9 month pregnancy while Tamar had 7 month pregnancy. In the sermonic points section we provide further details.
Sermonic points: Rivkah had a pregnancy through marriage while Tamar had a pregnancy through an affair. The stresses of out-of-marriage pregnancy can prevent a normal gestation period and contribute to a premature birth. A pregnancy through marriage encourages normal delivery patterns.
The table below presents presents two contradictory verses. Both verses speak about Abraham's concubines. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says And the sons of Keturah, Abraham's concubine: she bore Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah. And the sons of Jokshan: Sheba, and Dedan. [Note the singular concubine.] while the other verse state But unto the sons of the concubines, that Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts; and he sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country [Note the plural concubines.] Rashi simply resolves this using the 2 Aspects method: There was one concubine with two different personalities. Gn16-03 calls her Hagar the Egyptian, which literarlly means an alien who annoys while the other verse calls her Keturah which literally means stately incense column. We infer that when Abraham first married her Hagar was bratty, unprofessional and annoying. She asked for things by creating nuisances. However later in life Hagar was chaste, stately and regal. Hence there were two personalities to the same one person.
Advanced Rashi: This is a beautiful example of refutation of a flippant reading of Rashi. Rashi Gn25-06a states The word concubines is written deficiently indicating one concubine. But the word concubines is written plural and fully. It might appear that Rashi had a different text. But the correct simple reading of Rashi is The word Concubine [in the corresponding verse 1C01-32] is written deficiently or singularly. This creates a contradiction between the singular concubine in 1C01-32 and the plural concubines in Gn25-06. A resolution is created by assuming one concubine with two personalities. Such a reading of Rashi is professional and consistent with rules of logic. For further illuminating details on this Rashi please see Rule #1, Other Verses above.
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.
Hence the Rashis on the above paragraph: Esauv lived a life of eating and drinking. Such a lifestyle is inconsistent with the Priesthood which required a life of abstention. As a simple example a priest who served while intoxicated could be liable to a death penalty.
The driving force behind Rashi is the re-interpretation of the Biblical phrase eat and drink as developmental details of the Biblical phrase did not want the birthright. Precisely because of the paragraph structure Rashi perceives the eating and drinking not as incidental items but as reflections and clarifications of did not want the priesthood. This is the essence of the style method.
Sermonic Points: Rashi teaches us basic etiquette. Jacob could have said: Look the Priesthood will be given to me and not to you; why don't you just cooperate and willfully give it to me; that way it looks better for you. This is an argument based on politics, power and authority. Instead the Bible approaches this as an argument based on lifestyle. Jacob's lifestyle belonged with the Priesthood; Esauv's lifestyle did not. It is always best to approach appointments based on merit instead of authority.
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 indicated unspecified emphasis by using repetition.
That is, if a modern author wanted to get a point across using bold, italics, underlhine - an indication of unspecified emphasis - then the Biblical Author would instead use repetition Today's verse illustrates this principle.
Verse Gn26-28a discussing the desire of Avimelech to make a treaty with Isaac since God was with him states And they said: 'We see see that HaShem was with thee; and we said: Let there now be an oath betwixt us, even betwixt us and thee, and let us make a covenant with thee; Rashi commenting on the unspecified emphasis indicated by the repeated words see see states: We have seen that God is with your whole family. That is, the perception was Divine grace on the family not on one individual.
Advanced Rashi: For further examples of regarding Biblical styles such as repetition as parallel to modern styles such as bold, italics, underline, see my article Biblical Formatting located on the world wide web at http://www.RashiYomi.com/biblicalformatting.pdf.
Verse Gn26-08a discussing how Avimelech found out that Rivkah was his wife, not sister, states And it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out at a window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife. Rashi fills in and explains how length of time leads to lowering of guard: When Isaac came to the town he was worried that someone would take his wife. But after a few years, with no one making overtures to her, Isaac lowered his guard. By playing with her publicly Avimelech knew she was his wife not his sister. Here we see how prolonged time can often lead to a lowering of guard.
For further details and examples please see rule #8 above.
This week's parshah contains examples of all Rashi methods. Visit the RashiYomi website at http://www.Rashiyomi.com for further details and examples.