The 10 RashiYomi Rules
Their presence in Rashis on Parshat SheMiNi
Volume 9, Number 9
Used in the monthly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
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(c) RashiYomi Incorporated, Dr. Hendel, President,
Mar - 27, - 2008

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 Lv10-12c
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: EAT THE MINCHAH (Lv10-12c) refers to the Consecration MINCHAH (Lv09-01:04)

Verse Lv10-12c discussing Moses order to Aaron's sons to eat the leftover Minchah offering states And Moses spoke to Aaron, and to Eleazar and to Ithamar, his sons, who were left, Take the Minchah offering that remains of the offerings of the Lord made by fire, and eat it without leaven beside the altar; for it is most holy; Rashi clarifies the underlined word Minchah by referencing verse Lv09-01:04 which states And it came to pass on the eighth day, that Moses called... and he said take ..and a Minchah offering mixed with oil; for today the Lord will appear to you. Hence the Rashi comment: The leftover Minchah offering that Moses ordered Aaron's sons to consume refers to the Minchah offering of the Consecration offerings which were offered on the 8th day of the consecration and described in detail in chapter Lv09.

Text of Target verse Lv10-12c Text of Reference Verse Lv09-01:04
And Moses spoke to Aaron, and to Eleazar and to Ithamar, his sons, who were left, Take the Minchah offering that remains of the offerings of the Lord made by fire, and eat it without leaven beside the altar; for it is most holy; And it came to pass on the eighth day, that Moses called... and he said take ..and a Minchah offering mixed with oil; for today the Lord will appear to you.
Rashi comments: The leftover Minchah offering that Moses ordered Aaron's sons to consume refers to the Minchah offering of the Consecration offerings which were offered on the 8th day of the consecration and described in detail in chapter Lv09.

Advanced Rashi: Rashi gives a second reference: Minchah besides referring to the Minchah offering of the consecration offering also refers to the Minchah offerings of the princes who offered their gifts, mentioned in Nu07, Nu08 during the consecration ceremony.

Our basic goal in this email newsletter is to expose the reader to the idea of Rashi following basic rules such as the reference method. When applying the basic rules Rashi might have several applications, some with subtleties. Thus in this case Rashi points out elsewhere that ten distinct events happened on the 8th day of the consecration ceremony; two of these ten events involved Minchah offerings. Since an analysis of this point - that there are 10 events - would require use of the advanced database method we suffice with the reference to the consecrtation offerings mentioned in the previous Biblical chapter, Lv09.

      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 Lv11-20a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: Shin-Resh-Tzade = crawling animal; Ayin-Vav-Pay = birds; Shin-Resh-Tzade-Ayin-Vav-Pay - crawling-birds = insect type flies.

An idiom is a collection of words which means more than the sum of the meanings of each of the phrases individual words.

The Hebrew Shin-Resh-Tzade refers to any crawling animal. The Hebrew Ayin-Vav-Pay refers principally to birds. The combined words Shin-Resh-Tzade-Ayin-Vav-Pay refers to insect type flies.

Advanced Rashi: Many people are unaware that there are modern language institutes whose job is to coin new words based on existing Hebrew. The Hebrew and other language institutes coins such words as tele-vision or break-fast or broad-cast. Each of these words is an idiomatic hybrid of two words which hint at the new concept, similar to crawling-bird for insect-flies.

      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 Lv09-12a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: Root MEM-TZADE-ALEPH means a) to FIND in the active mode and b) to PRESENT in the causative mode (Cause someone else to FIND).

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.

A simple recurring gramatical problem is a description of the distinct meanings of a Biblical root in the different grammatical modes. Today we study the Hebrew root Mem-Tzade-Aleph. In the active mode (Qal) this root means to find. However, in the causative mode (Hifil) this root means to present. The explanation of the connection between find-present is simple: To present something is to cause that person to find it.

Advanced Rashi: A punchy way of learning some Rashis is to embed the Rashi comment in the translation of the verse. Verse Lv09-12a states And he slew the burnt offering; and the sons of Aaron presented to him the blood, which he sprinkled around upon the altar. The underlined word presented neatly embeds the Rashi comment in the translation of the verse.

    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 Lv11-40a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: TOUCHING a dead animal makes YOU ritually impure; CARRYING a dead animal makes YOU & YOUR CLOTHING ritually impure

The table below presents an aligned extract of verses in Lv11-39, Lv11-40 Both verses discuss the affect of ritual impurity arising from contact with certain dead animals The alignment justifies the Rashi assertions that Touching certain dead animals makes only you ritually impure. Carrying the dead animals makes both you and your clothing ritually impure.

Verse Text of Verse Rashi comment
  • And if any beast, of which you may eat, dies;
  • he who touches its carcass
    1. shall be unclean until the evening.
Touching a dead animal only renders the person ritually impure.
  • ...he also who carries the carcass
    1. shall wash his clothes, and
    2. be unclean until the evening.
    The alignment justifies the contrast that
  • touching a dead animal only renders the person ritually impure
  • carrying a dead animal renders both the person and their clothes ritually impure.

Advanced Rashi: Rashi makes additional comments. Besides discussing what is ritually impure Rashi discusses the method of removing the status of ritual impurity. A simple prerequisite to removing ritual impurity is immersion in a ritual body of water. This immersion is alluded to in the verse by the phrase wash his clothes. The immersion suffices for removal of ritual impurity from clothing. For removal of ritual impurity from the person himself, besides immersion, there is a time requirement of waiting till evening. That is, even after immersion, the person remains ritually impure until evening. This waiting requirement is indicated in the text of the verse with the word ...and be unclean until the evening.

      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 Lv10-05a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: Nadav,Avihu died by a prophetic fire which burned souls but not clothing.

The table below presents presents two contradictory sets of verses. Both verse sets talk about the death of Aaron's two sons who offered an improper sacrifice. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse set says a fire devoured them while the other verse says They were carried away in their clothing. Which is it? Were they consumed by fire - if so their clothing should have been burned. Or did they die some other way which would explain why their clothing was not burned. Rashi simply resolves this using the 2 aspects method: The two sons of Aaron died by a prophetic fire vision. The fire vision overwhelmed them with guilt and this caused their death. Consequently their clothing was not consumed.

Summary Verse / Source Text of verse / Source
They were consumed by prophetic fire Lv10-02 And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord
The prophetic fire did not devour their clothing and hence they were removed from the sanctuary in their clothing. Lv10-05 So they [their brothers] went near, and carried them in their coats out of the camp; as Moses had said
Resolution: 2 Aspects: They died by a prophetic fire vision. The fire vision overwhelmed them with guilt and they died. However the prophetic fire did not burn their clothing.Hence although they were devoured by fire they could be carried out in their clothing.

    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 Lv11-24b
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: GENERAL:To these you will become ritually impure DETAIL: [BY] touching their carcasses - you'll be impure till eve.

Certain Biblical paragraphs are stated in a Theme-Development form. In other words a broad general idea is stated first followed by the development of this broad general theme in specific details. The Theme-Detail form creates a unified paragraph. Today's example illustrates this as shown below.

  • General: And for these you shall be unclean
  • Detail: [by] touching their carcass you shall be unclean till eve

In this example the verse starts with a general phrase:to these animals you shall be unclean. We are not yet told how the uncleanness is achieved. Then in the next part of the verse we are given specificity: whoever touches their carcass... shall be unclean till eve. Taken together the verse as a whole states You may become unclean to these animals [by] touching their carcass. The interpolated word [by] facilitates seeing the connection between the two verse halves which together state that only by very specific acts (touching) can you become ritually impure.

      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 example applies to Rashis Lv11-12a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: Fishes without fins/scales IN WATER may not be eaten; but if they had fins/scales in water and lost them on land they are kosher.

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.

Note the emphasized underlined word water in the following verses, Lv11-09:12 discussing the kashruth of fish: These shall you eat of all that are in the waters; whatever has fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, those shall you eat. ...And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, .... they shall be an abomination to you; .... What ever has no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination to you. The repeated underlined word waters creates an unspecified emphasis similar to the emphasis indicated by a modern author by use of underlines. Hence the Rashi comment: If the fish never had any fins/scales it is not kosher; but if it had fins/scales at least in the water (but lost them when captured on dry land) then they are kosher. As usual, the point Rashi is making may seem obvious until we articulate it using Talmudic analytic methods: The driving force of permission is not the actual fins/scales but rather the fact that this species of fish is known for fins/scales. The actual fins and scales do not have to be present.

      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 Lv11-35b
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: Impure clay utensils have no remedy; they must be broken

We ask the following database query: What remedies does the Torah list for ritual impurity. 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: Most ritual impurities have remedies. However an earthen-clay vessel that becomes impure has no remedy and must be destroyed. The list below presents the results of the database query.

Verse Item Remedy Verse text
Lv11-25 Carrying Dead rodents Immersion and sunset And whoever carries anything of the carcass of them shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the evening.
Lv15-16 Nocturnal emission Immersion and sunset And if any man?s semen goes out from him, then he shall wash all his flesh in water, and be unclean until the evening.
Lv15-01:05 Touching bed of a discharger Immersion and sunset Speak to the people of Israel, and say to them, When any man has a discharge out of his flesh, .... Every bed, on which he, who has the discharge, lies, is unclean; .... And whoever touches his bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening.
Lv11-33 Dead animal in air space of clay vessel No Remedy (destruction) And every earthen utensil, in which any of them [dead rodents] falls, whatever is in it shall be unclean; and you shall break it.

      BRIEF EXPLANATION: Rashi provides symbolic interpretations of words, verses, and chapters. Rashi can symbolically interpret either
      • (10a) entire Biblical chapters such as the gifts of the princes, Nu-07
      • (10b) individual items, verses and words
      The rules governing symbolism and symbolic interpretation are presented in detail on my website.

      This examples applies to Rashis Lv09-04a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: Bring these offerings for their fire symbolism will trigger a prophetic vision from God.

Verses Lv09-01:04 discussing the requirements of offerings at the consecration of the Temple states And it came to pass on the eighth day, that Moses called .... And he said ...., Take a young calf for a ... offering, a.... and a meal offering mixed with oil; for today the Lord will appear to you. As can be seen the verses causally connect the bringing of offerings with the prophetic appearance of God to the people. Rashi emphasizes this causal relationship: ...therefore [because God is appearing to you] you must bring these offerings.

The simplest approach to Rashi is a symbolic interpretation: The image of an animal consumed in flames on the altar symbolically triggers a prophetic vision of God. That is the offerings are symbolic procedures which facilitate prophetic visions. For a more detailed description of the offerings as symbolic procedures see my article on sybmolism mentioned above and located on the world wide web at . In passing we point out in this article that the Jewish aspiration to rebuild the Temple and offer sacrifices is in reality a Jewish aspiration to the renewal of prophecy.

Advanced Rashi: We have only discussed the general idea of the offerings being symbolic procedures. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch goes into detail on each offering and shows how it prepares us psychologically and spiritually for prophetic encounter with God.


This week's parshah does not contain examples of the spreadsheet method. Visit the RashiYomi website at for further details and examples.