Their presence in Rashis on Parshat KeDoShiM Volume 9, Number 12
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.
Note: Today's Rashi is best understood through use of two Rashi methods: the reference and symbolism method. The interested reader is encouraged to read rule #10, symbolism afer reading this Rashi explanation.
When Rashi uses the synonym method he does not explain the meaning of a word but rather the distinction or commonality between several similar words both of whose meanings we already know.
Verse Lv19-15a states Ye shall not be red-taped in judgment; thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor favour the person of the mighty; but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour. We have translated the Hebrew word, Ayin-Vav-Lamed, as meaning red-taped. The root in question means burden. A burdensome judicial process, is a red-taped judicial process - a judicial process where you are burdensome (but not necessarily unjust) to the parties seeking judicial guidance.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi actually is more crafty. He skillfully cites several verses, each verse with a pair of these four synonyms linked, thereby showing that the explicitly perjorative connotations of some of these words are transferred to the lighter words. We however have sufficed with showing Rashi's basic approach of classifying the given word in a larger class of synonyms all of which refer to something bad.
The more serious student should first read rule #4, alignment and then come back to read the grammatical analysis.
The multi-verse rule simply states that some Biblical sentences span multiple verses. Knowledge of the multi-verse rule enables one to see distinct Biblical sentences as contributing meaning to each other. Today's example illustrates this.
Verse Lv19-05:06, discussing sacrifices states And if you offer a sacrifice of peace offerings to the Lord, then with proper will [intention] you shall offer it: [namely, have intent that], It shall be eaten the same day you offer it, and on the next day; and if anything remains until the third day, it shall be burned in the fire.
Advanced Rashi: One cannot but help and notice the extreme charm and naturalness with which the Rashi comments effortlessly flow from the nifty translation provided above. The skillful use of proper translations to explain even complicated Rashis was advocated in my article Peshat and Derash: A New Simple Intuitive Approach which can be found on the Rashi website at http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rashi.pdf.
The table below presents an aligned extract of verses in Lv19-05 Lv01-04 Both verses discuss offering a sacrifice in order to regain good will with God. The alignment justifies the Rashi assertions that Besides attaining good will with God the actual sacrifice procedure must be done with good will - that is with intention. Hence a priest who mechanically offers without concentration has invalidated the sacrifice.
Advanced Rashi: The alignment here is an alignment of grammatical mode: One verse uses the passive while the other verse uses the active. Rashi presents two explanations since there are two aspects of the word to comment on: First Rashi explains the passive use of good will - that it indicates regaining of good will from God; second Rashi explains the active use of good will, connoting active attention. Interestingly Rashi calls the first explanation - regaining God's good will - as the the simple meaning of the text. Actually both explanations are the simple meaning of the text since they are standard ways of interpreting passive and active. However Rashi typically refers to explanations of words as the simple meaning of the text, and refers to other simple meanings (such as grammar) as an emphasis on nuances (Midrasho).
The table below presents presents two contradictory verses. Both verses talk about paying laborers/employees in a timely manner. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says pay him by morning while the other verse says pay him by sunset. Which is it? Is the requirement to pay by morning or evening. Rashi simply resolves this using both the 2 aspects method: If a worker completes his services at night then you have from morning to evening (12 hours) to obtain money to pay him. On the other hand if a worker completes his services by day you have from sunset to dawn to obtain money to pay him. In each case the Torah gave the employer time - half a 24 hour period - to obtain money to pay the employee.
Advanced Rashi: Rabbi Dr Isidore Twersky, the Talner Rebbe, pointed out in his doctoral thesis that we tend to use cliches on Rishonim which upon closer examination are not universal. For example Rabbi Twersky points out that we typically think of the Rambam as a rationalist and the Raavad as a more spiritual emotional person. Rabbi Twersky in his doctoral thesis, shows examples to the contrary, when Raavad was the rationalist and Rambam was the mystic.
Following this thought I observe that we tend to think of Rashi as terse and Rambam as more comprehensive. However in discussion of worker rights we find the reverse. Rambam is terse, simply citing the law; while Rashi goes out of his way to explain the law as indicated in the underlined passages above.
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.
Verse Lv19-14b states a prohibition: Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling-block before the blind, but thou shalt fear thy G-d: I am HaShem. Rashi employs the generalization method on this verse: Just as you may not put a stumbling block before a physically blind person so too you may not give bad advice to an innocent person since the bad advice could cause the person to stumble in the path he has chosen.
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 Lv20-04a discussing the idolatrous rite of Molech where a person temporarily burns his children to prepare them for adult life where people frequently get temporarily burned, states And if the people of the land do at overlook-overlook their eyes from that man, when he giveth of his seed unto Molech, and put him not to death; Rashi comments on the repeated underlined phrase: overlook-overlook: If they overlook in any manner however small. To fully capture the intent of Rashi I would therefore translate the prefix letter Beth in the verse as meaning cause rather then when (The prefix beth can equally mean cause and when.) The verse would then read And if the people of the land do at overlook [in any degree however small] their eyes from that man, [thereby] causing him to giveth of his seed unto Molech, and put him not to death; then I ...
We can understand Rashi's comment more fully as follows: If courts overlook minor crimes (instead of punishing people for them), then people don't take seriously temporary overlookings of the law. In such a situation a person would not think it that serious if he temporarily (for a moment) burned his son thus symbolically affirming that adults get burned in life and this is part of life. However the emotional trauma to the child - who was burned unnecessary - is an idolatrous rite and is a serious crime since the child has been irreparably emotionally damaged.
We ask the following database query: Does the Torah symbolically affirm moral values on people by transferring them to animals,plants and objects? 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: The Torah frequently symbolically affirms moral values on people by transferring them to animals, plants and objects. For example one must execute an animal who sexually sinned with a person. This symbolically implies the seriousness of people who sexually sin. The list below presents the results of the database query.
Advanced Rashi: Two points should be made: First this Rashi is using Non-Verse logical methods. That is Rashi is not commenting on the meaning of words, grammar or comparisons with other verses. Rather Rashi is clarifying, through use of skillfully selected examples, a spectrum of applicable interpretations of the verse. Here Rashi uses raw logic to clarify the subtle shades of the verse's requirements.
A second point is that Rashi when literally translated seems to be saying something else: Does the verse mean I should know the difference between a cow and donkey. But this is well known. Rather the verse is teaching... However not all Kosher animals are known! For example we no longer know what the 24 birds mentioned in Lv11 refer to! So indeed, the verse is admonishing us that we must teach our children the obvious: the difference between a cow and donkey. Here is another way of looking at this: A person who teaches the difference between a cow and donkey, even though it is obvious, has thereby fulfilled the commandment in this verse to differentiate.
Rashi's literal language should therefore be interpreted contrastively. Besides teaching people the obvious - e.g. the difference between cow and donkey - one should also teach them the non-obvious - e.g. the difference between properly slaughtered and improperly slaughtered. Here is another way to look at this: The emphasis in the verse is on teaching the non-obvious - the difference between the properly slaughtered and non-properly slaughtered. However one should also teach the obvious differences such as the cow-donkey difference.
Note: Today's Rashi is best understood by first reading rule #1, references followed by reading the passage below.
This week's parshah contains examples of all Rashi methods. Visit the RashiYomi website at http://www.Rashiyomi.com for further details and examples.