Their presence in Rashis on Parshat TaZRiAh Volume 9, Number 10
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 Lv13-43a discussing the appearance of certain head leprosies states Then the priest shall look upon it; and, behold, if the swelling of the sore is white reddish in his bald head, or in his bald forehead, as the appearance of skin leprosy Rashi clarifies the underlined word as the appearance of skin leprosy by referencing verse Lv13-02 which states When a man shall have in the skin of his flesh a swelling, a scab, or bright spot, and it is on the skin of his flesh like the disease of leprosy; then he shall be brought to Aaron the priest, or to one of his sons the priests; Hence the Rashi comment: The reference to appearance like skin leprosy in Lv13-43a refers to the skin leprosy symptoms mentioned in the chapter on skin leprosy beginning with Lv13-02.
When Rashi uses the synonym method he does not explain the meaning of a word but rather the distinction between two similar words both of whose meanings we already know.
We can invoke another literary rule, FFF, to explain how the word for washing comes to mean to immerse. The FFF rule states that words can be named by Form, Feel and Function. For example the Pentagon is named by its form while the United Nations is named by its function. Similarly hardship is named by its feeling. Applying the triple FFF principle we find that the word for washing can refer to the form of the washing, which is a simple immersion.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi on this verse shows advanced methods. Rashi skillfully takes the Aramaic translation of the word Kuph-Beth-Samech and shows how in some verses the aramaic translation renders this word as immerse while in other verses the aramaic translation renders this word as clean. We however, have chosen a different route. We examined actual verses to show how the two nuances - cleaning and immersion - can blend with each other.
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 Lv13-55a states And the priest shall look, after that the afflicted spot is washed; and, behold, if the plague have not changed its colour, and the plague be not spread, it is unclean; thou shalt burn it in the fire; it is a fret, whether the bareness be within or without. The underlined phrase corresponds to the translation of the Hebrew word Hoo-Ka-BaYS which Rashi identifies as the passive infinitive mode of the root Kuph-Beth-Samech. This conjugation is extremely rare. Modern grammarians consider this to be an abnormal reflexive or passive causative. Rashi's approach - the passive infinitive - is at least as defensible as the positions of modern scholars. Furthermore Rashi's classification as passive infinitive is fully consistent with all English translations. It is therefore the grammatical form that is most consistent with the data.
The table below presents an aligned extract of verselets in Lv12-04d Both verselets discuss the prohibition of a woman who had just given birth from dealing with holy objects The alignment justifies the Rashi assertions that Coming to holy grounds is prohibited to a woman who gave birth; touching (e.g. Eating) holy objects is prohibited to a woman who gave birth.
Advanced Rashi: We have interpolated the aligned text with an example: Both coming and touching, e.g. by eating are prohibited. This interpolation is not explicitly mentioned in Rashi. However Rashi explicitly refers to to the Tractate Yevamoth where this is mentioned.
Advanced Rashi: Here is another way to view this Rashi: Two verses state wash the afflicted spot and wash that which has the afflicted spot. The verse wash the afflicted spot implies only the afflicted spot. The verse wash that which has the afflicted spot implies washing more than the afflicted spot. The two verses together are harmonized by washing the afflicted spot and its immediately surrounding parts but not more.
A typical Malbim type comment which fully explains the Rashi is as follows: The contrast of the underlined phrases: shut him up 7 days vs. see him on the 7th day implies that shut him up need not be taken literally but rather contrastively: The priest who initially examined him now and who is instructed to examine him in 7 days is prohibited from examining him till then. That is, the phrase shut him up 7 days, because of the contrast, means, don't see him again till day 7.
Advanced Rashi: The astute reader might point out that there is an obligation of shutting up the lepor. In fact there is an explicit Biblical verse, Lv13-46 which says All the days when the disease shall be in him he shall be unclean; he is unclean; he shall dwell alone; outside the camp shall his habitation be.
I believe the proper persepctive is as follows: The obligation to shut up a leper is derived from the explicit verse, Lv13-46; not from Lv13-04. The contrastive phrases in Lv13-04:05 - shut him up 7 vs. see him on the 7th only requires that the priest not reexamine him till the end of the 7 day period. This is in fact the normal way to interpret contrastive verses. By coincidence the literal meaning of the phrase used, shut him up, corresponds to the explicitly indicated Biblical obligation mentioned in Lv13-46. However the verses Lv13-04:05 by themselves, and without other verses, would only require that the priest not reexamine the person for 7 days.They would not require, by themselves, a literal shutting in of the lepor.
We now return to the Rashi on Lv13-43a: The verse speaks about leprosy on a completely bald head. It speaks about an appearance like the appearance of skin leprosy. Rashi using the above table states: In other words the initial declaration is accomplished thru 4 shades of white and the waiting period is 2 weeks. Here Rashi used the criteria for skin leprosy and bypassed the criteria for other types of leprosy since the verse explicitly required a resemblance to skin leprosy.
This week's parshah does not contain examples of the style, spreadsheet and symbolism methods. Visit the RashiYomi website at http://www.Rashiyomi.com for further details and examples.