Their presence in Rashis on Parshat BeShaLaCh Vol 8, # 15 - 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 Ex14-02b discussing God's order to return to the Mouth of Freedom states Speak to the people of Israel, that they return and encamp by The Mouth of Freedom, between Migdol and the sea, opposite Baal-Zephon; before it shall you encamp by the sea. Rashi clarifies the underlined words return to the Mouth of Freedom by referencing verse Ex12-37,Ex01-11 which states Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Mouth-of-Death and Raamses.... And the people of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot, who were men, beside children. Hence the Rashi comment: The Jews worked in the twin cities of Raamses and Mouth of Death. They departed Egypt from Raamses (Ex12-37) but God told them to return to The Mouth of Freedom. A very reasonable logical inference is that Mouth of Freedom was the way the joyous slaves renamed Mouth of Death when they left the Raamses - Mouth-of-Death area.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi only mentions the renaming of Mouth of Freedom. Rashi further explains that there were two great rocks with a hole between them - and hence the whole setup looked like a mouth, which explains the name.
By analogy I further explained that the Hebrew PiThom means Mouth (Pi) of Death (Tamm,) analogous to Pi HaChiroth meaning Mouth (Pi) of Freedom (HaChiRoth). I think the two stones formed a natural boundary. Slaves who tried to escape were killed and hence the name Mouth of Death. When the Jews were freed they renamed it Mouth of Freedom.
Such a reading of Rashi based on underlying reasons enriches our understanding and appreciation of Rashi.
Verse Ex17-13a discussing Joshua's defeat of Amalayk states And Joshua weakened Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. Rashis comment translates almost perfectly into English: The underlined word weakened is the verb form of the adjective weak, and means to make someone weak.
Sermonic Points: Why did God order Joshua to weaken Amalayk but ordered Saul to destroy Amalayk. See rule #4 for a continuation of the explanation of this Rashi.
Two familiar functions of grammar in all languages are pronoun reference and plurality.
Hebrew is more flexible than English in pronoun reference. The following verse uses a pronoun reference first and only then mentions the people referred to. Such a construction would not be allowed in English.
As can be seen the underlined pronoun referent they is mentioned in bullet 2, but the identity of the pronoun is only made clear in bullet 3.
An alternate approach is to notice that bullet 1 mentions Moses, Aaron and Chur. Since bullet 2 mentions a they supporting Moses' hand we can infer from the plurality that the they refers to Aaron and Chur.
Both of these approaches are not allowed in English. English requires that a pronoun refer to an immediate antecedent which must therefore be mentioned first.
Rashi does not take sides on which approach is used. He simply points out that the pronoun they refers to Aaron and Chur and leaves the reader to guestimate what rule of grammar is used.
The table below presents an aligned extract of verses in Ex14-02b, 1S15-01:03 Both verses discuss. war on Amalayk. The alignment justifies the Rashi assertion that Just as God ordered Saul to completely DESTROY Amalayk so too God ordered Joshua to WEAKEN Amalayk - that is, destroy the warriors but give the weaklings a chance to repent.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi does not explain difference #2, why Joshua was ordered to only weaken Amalayk while Saul was ordered to destroy all. A very reasonable explanation is that God first extended mercy to the Amalaykians - he allowed the weaklings among them claim that they were helpless and acting under orders. When they did not repent God ordered their total destruction.
Sermonic Points: It is tempting to apply the above logic to the current Israeli-terrorist situation. It is the policy of this email newsletter not to engage in political discussions. However I point out that Rashi emphasizes that all was done by prophetic order. Indeed Jewish law requires wars to be accompanied by both an act of parliament and prophetic orders. It might be argued that each case is individual. In any event all that can be inferred from the Amalayk case is that God can approach a military situation with both mercy and strict justice. We cannot infer the waiting period between mercy and strict justice - rather we can only infer the general form and characteristics.
The table below presents presents two contradictory verses. Both verses speak about whether Moses would be stoned by the Jews. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse set says Moses pleaded in fear to God that This nation will soon stone me, while the other verse states God told Moses to pass in front of the nation. Which is it? Was Moses fear legitimate - would he be stoned because the people had no water? Or was God correct that he would not be stoned. Rashi simply resolves this using the broad-restrictive meaning method: Moses fear was exaggerated while God's assurance that he would not be stoned was realistic.
Many readers are familiar with the 13 exegetical principles of Rabbi Ishmael which occur in the daily prayer books in the morning prayer. In this email newsletter I have called these rules the style rules. It is important to clarify what the Rabbi Ishmael rules focus on. After all they are distinct from rules of meaning grammar and alignment. What are they?
We have explained in our article Biblical Formatting located on the world wide web at http://www.Rashiyomi.com/biblicalformatting.pdf that the Rabbi Ishmael style rules are rules governing the interpretation of examples. In other words if the Biblical text gives a specific example, as a law or narrative, does the Author intend that the law or narrative exhaust its meaning in that particular example, or, does the Author intend the example as a mere example which should be understood by the reader as a paradigmatic example which should be generalized.
Here is a good example. Dt25-04 states don't muzzle an ox while threshing. The Rabbi Ishmael generalization rule requires that we do not see this example as exhaustive of the law but rather as requiring generalization. Hence Jewish law interprets this to mean Don't muzzle any animal while it is doing its typical work. Actually the law prohibits not only muzzling but any type of inteference with the animal eating.
In this particular case we used the generalization style. Sometimes however we use the restrictive style and interpret the example as exhaustive of the law-- the example is all the law says.
Most of the Rabbi Ishmael style rules are known: They include: Generalization, Theme-Detail, Detail-Theme, and Theme-Detail-Theme. Today however we encounter a rare form, not listed any place: The Detail-Theme-Theme style. Let us see how Rashi interprets it.
The calculation of 40 years minus one month may be a little complicated for some people. We will lay it out more clearly below in rule 9.
Here in rule #6 we focus on the fact that Rashi could have simply said 40 years can easily refer to 40 years less one month since the Torah did not always use exact numbers. Indeed all the census figures in Nu01 are rounded to the nearest 100 or 50. So we see that the Torah did not always have to be exact. Why didn't Rashi take the easy way out and simply say that 40 years is a rounding off to the nearest year?
The apparent pickiness of this Rashi has led some scholars to use a sermonic appraoch: You needn't believe that the cakes tasted like Manna. Rather Rashi exaggerated the miracle and added an extra month. Such exaggerations while not supported by the Biblical text offers hope and encouragement to readers.
The position of this email newsletter is that Rashi never made a commment for sermonic purposes unless it could be backed up as the simple meaning of the text. In this case we suggest that Rashi was compelled to interpret the 40 years literally - exactly 40 years - because of the rare style form - Detail-General-General. Apparently such a form requires interpreting all clauses exactly. This is consistent with the exegetical rule (also mentioned in my article above) that repetition - such as the repeated statement of until they came to an inhabited land ...until they came to the borders of Canaan - such repetitions typically indicate an emphasis connoting exactness.
Finally we note that we have only suggested an explanation. Normally we defend Rashis with a list. In this case we have no list. However the connections with the Rabbi Ishmael Style rules and the repetition format is solid.
We think the above explanation exemplary of how students eager to understand Rashi's rules should do research.
See rule #9 below for further details.
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.
Verse Ex16-25a discussing the double portion of Manna that came down on the Sabbath states And Moses said: 'Eat that to-day; for to-day is a sabbath unto HaShem; to-day ye shall not find it in the field. Rashi comments on the three-fold repetition of today: The repeated emphasis of the underlined word today creates an unspecified emphasis: This unspecified emphasis can be captured by inserting the words only,all: The verse states a) Only today you don't have to go out to get Manna but tomorrow the manna will resume; b) all of today you shouldn't go out (whether morning or evening).
We ask the following database query: Of the nations declaring war on the Jews what was unique about Amalayk. 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-Midrashic inference: Although many nations declared war on the Jews when they left Egypt, Amalayk was the first. It so to speak broke the ice. Therefore they were singled out for being remembered by God for destruction. The list below presents the results of the database query and shows examples.
Advanced Rashi: We explain the database inquiry. Many nations declared war. But Amalayk was first to declare war. Hence God singled them out. Of all nations declaring war only on Amalayk does it say in verse Ex17-14 And the Lord said to Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and recite it in the ears of Joshua; for I will completely put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.
The table below justifies the computation that the Jews ate Manna for 40 years less one month. For further inferernces on this verse see rule #6 above.
Verse Ex17-12c discussing Moses' prayers for t he Jewish people during the war with Amalayk states But Moses? hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
The rules of symbolism, listed in the above article, require symbolic interpretation when a verse description is anomolous. Here Moses supporting his hand with a stone versus a pillow is anomolous.
The rules of symbolism, listed in the above article, state that when symbolic interpretation is required, we interpret items by function, form, linguistic association, and Biblical assocaition. In this case Rashi uses the form of resting on a stone: Resting on a stone is painful. Moses abstained from resting on a pillow to symbolically affirm that he empathized with the suffering of the Jewish people. This empathy was a source of strength to them and encouraged their fighting. Even though Moses was an angel and did not need war he emphasized his empathy with the plight of the Jewish people.
This week's parshah contains examples of all methods. Visit the RashiYomi website at http://www.Rashiyomi.com for further details and examples.