Their presence in Rashis on Parshat MiShPaTiM Volume 9, Number 2
Used in the monthly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
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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 Ex23-19a discussing the command to bring first fruits to the Temple states The choicest first-fruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of HaShem thy G-d. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother's milk. Rashi clarifies the underlined words first fruits by referencing verse Dt26-01:02 which states And it shall be, when you come in to the land which the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance, and possess it, and live in it; That you shall take from the first of all the fruit of the earth, which you shall bring of your land that the Lord your God gives you, and shall put it in a basket, and shall go to the place which the Lord your God shall choose to place his name there. Hence the Rashi comment: (a) 'When you come take the first fruit' implies that when you go down to your field and see the first date or olive that you tie a string around it and declare 'This is first fruit.' (b) Other laws are inferred from Dt26-02: It says that you should take from the first fruit emphasizing that not all first fruits are given but only special ones such as the first fruit of the 7 species for which Israel was known. Other details to these laws are also stated in Dt26.
Todays example combines word meaning, formatting, and grammar rules.
The special word method deals with the few dozen special words that exist in all languages. Familiar examples are also, when, that, because, only, this,.... Rashi's job, when he comments on a special connective words, is to list the varied nuances and usages of the word. The most famous example is the Hebrew word Kaph Yud which can mean because, that, when, perhaps, rather, if. Sometimes Rashi explicitly gives all meanings of a connective word as happens with Kaph Yud while at other times Rashi does not give all meanings at once. In such a case the student must gather all the meanings together from various places.
Advanced Rashi: In this case we have incorporated the Rashi comment into the translation of the verse. This incorporation technique is very useful when discussing Rashis on translations.
We have only commmented on the meaning of the Hebrew word Ki. However there are two other Rashi comments on this verse. One explains the use of the pronomial phrase with his help; this will be explained in rule #3 below, grammar. The other explains the use of repetition; help him unload unload which will be explained in rule #7 below format.
Todays example combines word meaning, formatting, and grammar rules.
Two familiar functions of grammar in all languages are pronoun reference and plurality.
Hebrew is more flexible than English in pronoun reference. However Hebrew frequently follows the rule in all languages that a pronoun refers to the last mentioned person.
In verse Ex23-05 the English phrase with him is indicated by an entire word (vs. a suffix) thus indicating emphasis. I have captured the essence of this emphasis by translating you must, with his help unload. Rashi (following the Mechiltah brought down in the Talmud) states Does the command to help unload a donkey imply that the owner of the donkey can maliciously sit down in the shade and order me to unload by myself since I am commanded to? No! For this reason it states you must with his help unload. Again we emphasize that the driving force of this exegesis is the use of an entire word to indicate a pronoun indicating extra emphasis.
Advanced Rashi: As indicated we will complete the explanation of this Rashi in rule #7, formatting below.
The table below presents an aligned extract of verselets in Ex23-13b,c Both verselets discuss the obligation to observe commandments and avoid idolatry The alignments justify the Rashi assertions that (a) The abstention from idolatry is equivalent in moral worth to observing the entire Torah. (b) One should not (b1) mention idolatry casually, e.g. 'We will meet by that statute' nor (b2) cause others to mention idolatry, e.g. bring a person to court and force him to swear by his god.
Advanced Rashi: Notice the unusual features of two alignments in the verse. The two verse halves from an alignment - do all commandments, don't associate with idols - and the two halves of the second verse also align suggesting a spectrum of mentioning of idolatry from casual to serious.
The table below presents presents two contradictory verses. Both verses speak about commandments related to land produce The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse set says Observe festivals - bring produce to Jerusalem and give produce tithe to the poor. while the other verse states there is no land ownership in the 7th year(Shmitah) Which is it? Is there an obligation to observe the festivals during the 7th year or not? Rashi simply resolves this using the 2 case method: Even though land is not owned (and the festival land laws do not apply) still observe the other festival laws in the 7th year
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.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi makes his comments on the bold words none shall miscarry Rashi explains that this promise of lack of miscarriages belongs in the paragraph promising God's help conditional to our observing his commandments. That is, it is not a new paragraph but rather a continuation of the previous paragraph.
Todays example combines the meaning, grammar, and formatting rules #2,#3 and #7.The interested reader is referred to the discussion in the previous examples.
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 Ex23-05c states perhaps you will see the donkey of your enemy overburdened with transport and you will abstain from helping him? You must, with his help, unload unload. Rashi commenting on the repeated words unload unload connoting an unspecified emphasis states You must always unload the donkey even e.g. if the person is elderly and cannot help you.
The above Rashi is therefore fundamental and illustrative of a broad class of Rashi comments with talmudic flavor. The serious student of exegesis would do well to study it throughly.
The table below presents the chronology of events from the arrival at Mount Sinai to the giving of the Torah.
Advanced Rashi: We have stated most aspects of Rashi's derivation. Rashi gives further points. For example Rashi mentions that some people believe the Torah was given on the 6th of Sivan the end of the 3 day separation period. If one carefully examines the above derivation one sees that the driving force behind the Rashi comments is that a response by Moses took place after a day of discussion with the nation. Such assumptions of reasonableness are typical in spreadsheet Rashis.
This week's parshah does not contain examples of the database and symbolism methods. Visit the RashiYomi website at http://www.Rashiyomi.com for further details and examples.