Their presence in Rashis on Parshat VaYaQHayL Volume 9, Number 6
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 Ex38-08b discussing the copper mirrors donated to the Temple states And he made the laver of brass, and the base thereof of brass, of the mirrors of the organized women that did organize at the door of the tent of meeting. Rashi clarifies the underlined words organize by referencing verse Ex35-22 which states And the men came after the women; all who were willing hearted, and brought bracelets, and ear rings, and rings, and bracelets, all jewels of gold; and every man who offered offered an offering of gold to the Lord. Hence the Rashi comment: [The women came first] The women organized into groups from each tribe with each woman donating specific items so that as a whole the women provided a large percentage of temple items.
When Rashi uses, what we may losely call, the hononym method, Rashi does not explain new meaning but rather shows an underlying unity in disparate meanings. Rashi will frequently do this by showing an underlying unity in the varied meanings of a Biblical root.
In my article Peshat and Derash found on the world wide web at http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rashi.pdf. I advocate enriching the Rashi explanation using a technique of parallel nifty translations in modern English. Today's examples show this.
Today we illustrate with the Biblical root Tzade-Lamed-Aleph. This root is traditionally translated as army. We think a better translation is affiliations. According to the dictionary the word affiliation is closely related to nuances of organization. This pair - affiliation / organization will be used in the translations we present below of some typical verses.
Advanced Rashi: Returning to Ex38-08b we would translate this using the other verse alluded to above: ..he made the basin of copper ...from the mirrors of the affiliated women who affiliated at the door of the temple for the purpose of giving donations. As remarked earlier we will visit this verse in the following rules: other verses, meaning, and formatting.
Most people are aware that Hebrew verbs come from three-letter roots. Each root is conjugated in the 7 dimensions of person, gender,plurality, tense, activity, modality, and direct-object. For example the root Shin Mem Resh means to watch. The conjugations Shin-Mem-Resh-Tauv-Yud and Nun-Shin-Mem-Resh-Nun-Vav mean I watched and we were watched respectively.
The rules for Hebrew grammar are carefully described in many modern books and are well known. Rashi will sometimes comment when a verse is using a rare conjugation of an odd grammatical form.
When presenting grammatical Rashis my favorite reference is the appendix in volume 5 of the Ibn Shoshan dictionary. This very short appendix lists most conjugations.
Verse Ex36-07b discussing the craftsmanship donations for the temple states For the craftsmanship they had was sufficient for construction of all the temple crafting, and to leave over. Rashi comments on the Hebrew word Vav Hey Vav Tauv Resh corresponding to the underlined word to leave over: The Biblical root Yud-Tauv-Resh means extra. The causative infinitive form of this verb changes the Yud to a Vav and adds a Hey to indicate the causative: Hey-Vav-Tauv-Resh. Hence the translation of the causative infinitive to leave over.
The reader can confirm this in Table 5 of the Ibn Shoshan dictionary which discusses the Yud-2-3 root form.
The table below presents presents two contradictory verses. Both verses talk about the temple construction. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says ...the wise men constructed the temple while the other verse says ... Bezalel constructed.... Which is it? Did Bezalel construct the Temple or did the staff of wise people construct it? Rashi simply resolves this using the 2 aspects method: Bezalel was the manager of Temple construction The crafstmen were the staff of Temple construction. Managers obtain credit for the entire project since by overseeing the project they enable others to do its work.
The Rabbi Ishmael style rules govern whether Biblical laws are considered as exclusive or paradigmatic examples. For example the example ox in don't muzzle an ox is interpreted paradigmatically. The law applies to any animal. One cannot muzzle any animal while working. By contrast when you offer animal sacrifices from cattle and penned animals is intepreted exclusively. Only cattle and penned animals may be offered as sacrifices but other animals - like lions and tigers - cannot be offered as sacrifices.
The major Rabbi Ishmael style rules are well known: Theme-development, development-theme, theme-development-theme. These rules and their interpretation are well known. Occasionally rare forms of the Rabbi Ishmael rules occur. These rare forms don't have standard interpretations; their interpretation may be subject to controversy. We examine one such form today.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi does not take sides. He simply prevents the controversy. Because this particular style form is rare it is not possible to justify one interpretation over another through a list. Nevertheless Jewish law takes the explanatory footnote approach: It is e.g. prohibited to die cloth on the Sabbath. A person who lit a caldron in which the die is being mixed would be liable to a death penalty even though he hadn't done the whole act of craftsmanship.
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.
Notice the repeated underlined word in the following verse, Ex38-03: And he made the basin of bronze, and its pedestal of bronze, from the mirrors of the affiliating women who affiliated at the door of the Tent of Meeting. As indicated we interpret this repetition as indicating an unspecified emphasis. In modern notation we would translate this sentence with an underline: And he made the basin of bronze, and its pedestal of bronze, from the mirrors of the women who affiliated at the door of the Tent of Meeting. The repetition or underline indicates an unspecified emphasis. Rashi based on the other verse, Ex35-27 translates this emphasis as indicating deliberatenss: And he made the basin of bronze, and its pedestal of bronze, from the mirrors of the women who deliberately affiliated at the door of the Tent of Meeting. [for the purpose of donating.]
Advanced Rashi: We believe the above approach combining three Rashi methods, Other verses, Formatting, Meaning gives a proper natural understanding of Rashi.
We ask the following database query: In the Bible, does God select by lineage or merit? 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: Selection for important posts was frequently done by merit not by lineage. The list below presents the results of the database query.
Sermonic Points: As can be seen from the above list God in many situations choses people based on merit rather than on tribal status (Judah vs. Benjamin or Dan) or seniority (the eldest). A famous clash between Jacob and Joseph in Gn48 further emphasizes that merit takes place on lineage and form. Judaism firmly believes that our standing before God is based on our own deeds. Such a positive attitude, placing responsibility on each individual, strongly encourages good deeds and action.
Verse Ex27-18 discussing the dimensions of the courtyard. states The length of the court shall be a hundred cubits, and the breadth fifty everywhere, and the height five cubits of fine twined linen, and their sockets of bronze. Rashi uses this other verse in clarifying the underlined word, against in verse Ex38-18a which states And the screen for the court gate was needlework, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen; and twenty cubits was the length, and the height in the breadth was five cubits, against the the court curtains. Rashi comments: The verse states that the court gate was five cubits against the court curtains. But we know from Ex27-18 that the courtyard itself was five cubits. Hence we interpret against to mean aligned at the same height since two things of the same height may be said to be against each other. We would therefore translate the verse as the court gate... was five cubits as the measure of the rest of the courtyard.
This week's parshah does not contain examples of the alignment and symbolism methods. Visit the RashiYomi website at http://www.Rashiyomi.com for further details and examples.