Their presence in Rashis on Parshat BeChuKoThaI Volume 10, Number 2
Used in the monthly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
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May 22, 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.
Verse Lv26-12a discussing God's intimate relationship with us when we are observant states And I [God] will walk among you, and will be your God, and you shall be my people Rashi clarifies the underlined words walk among you by referencing verse(s) Nu12-07:08 which states Not so with my servant Moses, for he is trusted in all my house. With him I speak mouth to mouth, .... Hence the Rashi comment: As the underlined words show, God's promise that He will walk among us if we observe His commandments is similar to God's conversational relationship to Moses, speaking mouth to mouth. This contrasts with the King-servant relationship with God which is characterized as God speaking by fire (Dt08-23).
Advanced Rashi: Of course, the underlined phrases - walk with you, and speak mouth to mouth - are not the same. Some readers may therefore see our approach (which is not explicit in Rashi) as slightly stretched. However we have to really ask what it means for God to walk with us in paradise. A reasonable interpretation is that we have a conversational vs. a fire relationship with God. I believe therefore that the approach we have taken gives positive insight.
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.
Rashi hilights the emphasis in his interpretation: The punishments shall be rushed. While you are attempting to recover from one punishment another will rush in.
We should emphasize that the great 19th century commentator, Malbim, introduced the powerful grammatical observation that the same root can change meaning solely based on the prepositional connectives used with it. From time to time we present intriguing examples illustrating this rule.
The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Lv27-31a Both verses/verselets discuss that plant tithe is holy (that is, it can't be eaten like ordinary food but must be eaten in holiness in Jerusalem) The alignment justifies the Rashi assertion that The fifth rule only applies to your tithe that is to tithe of the owner. In other words if the owner redeems his tithe he must pay its value and 25% more while if a non-owner redeems a friends tithe he only pays value without any addition. By contrast the tithe-holiness rule applies to tithe whether of the owner or any other person. In other words tithe is holy (forbidden to be eaten except in a holy state in Jerusalem) whether it is the tithe of the owner or a friend.
The climax principle asserts that a sequence of similar phrases should be interpreted climactically even if the words and grammatical constructs used do not directly suggest this. That is the fact of the sequence justifies reading into the Biblical text a climactic interpretation even if no other textual indication justifies it. For this reason we consider the climax method a distinct and separate method.
Verse Lv26-16 discussing a punishment of several diseases for disobedience to God states I also will do this to you; I will appoint over you in a rush, consumption, and fever, that shall destroy sight[of hope] , and cause sorrow of heart; .... The table below compactly shows the climactic progression in the four underlined phrases in the verse.
Advanced Rashi: Notice how Rashi almost arbitrarily interprets destructive of eyes as meaning loss of personal hope while emotional anguish Rashi interprets as meaning loss of communal hope. There is nothing in the language or grammar which justifies this however the Rashi interpretation is justified by the fact of Biblical sequence which justifies a climactic interpretation. The skillful fitting of a well chosen climactic interpretation on a poetic verse gives a nifty demonstration of the climax method.
Verse Lv27-32a discussing the requirement to tithe 10% of ones animals states And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth shall be holy to the Lord. Rashi comments: A typical procedure for tithing ones animals would consist of passing all animals before the person and dabbing with a dyed rod every 10th animal. Here, Rashi interprets the Biblical phrase passes under the rod by providing a real-world application of the law, something done in practice. Since Rashi does not make his derivation from gramamtical or word meaning considerations or even from considerations from other verses we consider this an application of a non-verse method.
Advanced Rashi: The verse seems to be stating a requirement of the law: e.g. If a person has a 1000 flock it is not sufficient for the person to take 100 and designate it as tithe. Rather the person has to actively separate one in every 10 animals. It is my opinion that the Bible does not require using a rod and dye. Rashi as indicated above just gave a typical application. But rather the Bible required physical marking and selection. If this is correct then if for every 10 sheep nine are veered to the left and one to the right the person would fulfill his obligation since a physical marking (a designated place) was made for the tithed sheep.
Another perspective on this is obtained by using the style rules, rule #6: We may regard dyeing with a rod as an archetypical example of any physical marking and selection procedure. It would follow that just as presence in a field is not a prerequisite for convicting a rapist - (despite the explicit Biblical language that the rape happened in a field (Dt22-25) - so too an actual rod is not a prerequisite for titheing. Rather a field is a typical place where rapes take place (because the women's screams would inhibit a man in the city). Similarly a rod is simply a typical way of taking tithe. Rashi's dyed rod is simply a clarification of the mechanics of this typical method. For this reason we have classified Rashi's dyed rod as an example of a non-verse method.
This week's parshah does not contain examples of the Contradiction, Style, Database, and Symbolism Rashi method. Visit the RashiYomi website at http://www.Rashiyomi.com for further details and examples.