Their presence in Rashis on Parshat NaSoH Volume 10, Number 4
Used in the monthly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
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June 5th, 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 Nu06-17b discussing the ram offering offered by the Nazarite states And he shall offer the ram for a sacrifice of peace offerings to the Lord, with the basket of unleavened bread; the priest shall offer also its meal offering, and its drink offering. Rashi clarifies the underlined words its meal offering, and its drink offering by referencing verse(s) Nu15-06:07 which states Or for a ram, you shall prepare for a meal offering two tenth measures of flour mixed with the third part of a hin of oil. And for a drink offering you shall offer the third part of a hin of wine, for a sweet savor to the Lord. Hence the Rashi comment: As the underlined words show, the rest offering and the drink offering of the ram mentioned in Nu06-17b cross-reference the detailed offerings mentioned at Nu15-06:07.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi may appear to be making a grammatical point: That the word its in the verselet ...and he shall offer its meal offering and its drink offering refers back to the ram not to the immediate antecedent, the meal offering. However the method (in Hebrew) for determining antecedents is by context. Hence we must bring verses Nu15-06:07 which show that the ram has both a meal offering and drink offering. This then justifies the interpretation of its as referring back to ram rather than the immediate antecedent, the meal offering. So the heart of the Rashi comment is based on the reference method.
An idiom is a collection of words which means more than the sum of the meanings of each of the phrase's individual words. Verse Nu04-22:26b discussing the work responsibilities of the Gayrshonites states Take also a census of the sons of Gershon, ... This is the service of the families of the Gershonites, to ... And they shall carry the curtains of the tabernacle, and ... and all for which they are responsible. Rashi explains: The literal Biblical text and all that is made for them; so shall they serve. is an idiom meaning and all for which they are responsible. As indicated by the underlined phrase, we have incorporated the Rashi comment into the actual translation of the verse.
A familiar function of grammar in all languages is to enable distinctions between plural and singular. In this case, very often, a single letter can totally change the meaning of a verse. Today's example illustrates this.
Verse Nu05-15f discussing the suspected-adulterous-woman offering states then shall the man bring his wife unto the priest, and shall bring her offering for her, the tenth part of an ephah of barley meal; he shall pour no oil upon it, nor put frankincense thereon; for it is a rest-offering of standing-ups..., a rest-offering of memorial, bringing iniquity to remembrance. Rashi comments on the plural standing-ups: The offering enables many parties to stand up for themselves. The woman is suspected of adultery. (1) The husband stands up for himself. (2) Organized religion stands-up for itself since every act of adultery cheapens the institution of marriage.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi literally says God stands up for Himself since His prohibitions of adultery have been violated. We have interpreted this broadly to mean that Organized religion in general and God in particular stand up for themselves. We consider this a proper reading of Rashi consistent with his intent.
The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Nu05-13c, Lv05-04. Both verses/verselets discuss offerings brought on hidden or unknown matters. The alignment justifies the Rashi assertion that For an ordinary sin offering we require the matter was hidden and unknown. For an adulterous-woman-sin-offering we require more strongly that the matter was hidden from his eyes and unknown. The extra emphasis indicated by hidden from his eyes implies a requirement that a) he is not blind, b) he was unaware of his wife's misbehavior and c) there was no overlooking (he didn't see something unseemly and ignore it).
The table below presents two contradictory verses. Both verses talk about when the altar was dedicated. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says the altar was dedicated on the day it was annointed while the other verse says the altar was dedicated after it was annointed Which is it? Was the altar dedicated the same day as its annointment or not? Rashi simply resolves this using the 2 aspects method method: The altar (and Temple) were consecrated (annointed) on the 1st of Nissan. After the annointment, but on the same day, the altar was dedicated with its gifts.
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 and consequently the law only applies to the enumerated details, but not to other cases. Today's example illustrates this.
Rashi (paraphrased): Not every trespass allows the suspected wife ceremony. For example if the woman burnt the husband's dinner he cannot test her through the ceremony. For the concept of trespass is too general. The Bible specifies that only an adultery trespass allows performing the suspected wife ceremony.
Here Rashi interprets the underlined Biblical words trespass-adultery as indicating a general-specific sequence. The general-specific sequence in turn indicates that of all trespasses only adultery allows bringing the suspected wife ceremony.
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.
In reviewing the verses below from the suspected-adulterous-woman-ceremony, verses Nu05-15:28, note both the context and the several repetitions, indicated by bold letters:
Rashi paraphrased states: (1) Note the many repetitions indicated by the letters (A,B,C) referring to repeated standing, swearing, drinking of water and (2) note the many degrading procedures such as unraveling of hair, use of dust, and placing heavy objects, like the meal offering, on her hand. This shows that the underlying idea here is to harass her during an interrogation procedure so that she should confess. Nothing was just done once: She was stood up, moved, and stood up again. She was sworn, spoken to, and sworn again. She was forced to drink the water, spoken to (e.g. asked to confess rather than cause the Holy Divine name to be erased), and forced to finish drinking again. Throughout, the intent was to cause her anxiety and break her defenses so that she should confess.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi only speaks about the repetition of standing (#A above). But as can be seen, there are many items repeated. Furthermore, reviewing the Midrashic comments on these items we see hints that they also were done, interrupted, and then repeated. For example, we have explicit midrashic statements that the woman was admonished not to descecrate the Divine name that is uttered in holiness.. An easy consequence of this is that the woman was forced to drink the water, was admonished not to totally destroy the Divine name, and then forced to drink the water again.
Such a reading of Rashi - combining the single repetition mentioned by Rashi with both (1) other repetitions and (2) the underlying context of harassing proceedures involving dust, unraveling of hair, and placing heavy objects like the meal offering on her hands discussing a general interrogation procedure with several anxiety producing sub-procedures each of which was broken in half to increase the anxiety with the intent of getting the woman to confess.
Today we ask the database query: Where is incense offered? The query uncovers 5 examples. An examination of these examples justifies the Rashi assertion that Incense was offered as a communal offering on the golden altar except for the Prince gifts which were private on the outer altar.
The table below presents results of the query along with illustrations of Rashi's comment.
Advanced Rashi: Of course, Nadav and Avihu's offering was an improper offering
resulting in their death. By contrast, the prince offerings were proper and accepted.
A Nazarite abstains from wine and ritual impurities. Verses
Nu05-09:12 discuss what happens when the Nazarite count is
interrupted by an unexpected defilement:
And if any man die very suddenly beside him, and he defile his consecrated head, then he shall ...
And he shall consecrate unto HaShem the days of his Naziriteship, and shall bring a he-lamb of the first year for a guilt-offering; but the former days shall fall, because his consecration was defiled.
A Nazarite abstains from wine and ritual impurities. Verses Nu05-09:12 discuss what happens when the Nazarite count is interrupted by an unexpected defilement: And if any man die very suddenly beside him, and he defile his consecrated head, then he shall ... And he shall consecrate unto HaShem the days of his Naziriteship, and shall bring a he-lamb of the first year for a guilt-offering; but the former days shall fall, because his consecration was defiled.
We have classified this Rashi as using the spreadsheet method since Biblical text is interpreted numerically. Some readers may consider this obvious. However there is a point: Notice words like fall which although physical and picturesque refer to numerical events.
Very often a symbolic interpretation will use a single motif to explain a variety of items and procedures. In the example below we symbolically interpret the prince gifts presented when the Temple was consecrated. The single motif used is an important event in human history. This motif is used to symbolically interpret the prince gifts, brought at the consecration of the Temple. These gifts as a whole symbolize the progression of important events in human history. The Table below gives details.
Advanced Rashi: We have not reviewed all gifts. Als at times we have deviated from Rashi's associations which use numerical values of letters (There is nothing wrong with this in a symbolic context but we preferred to give the strongest associations). As the table shows there is a natural sequence from the beginning, Adam, till the reception of the Torah. Some of the numerical associations are quite strong based on numerical identity. The other associations can then be justified in context because they fill in the gaps in the missing sequence.
This week's parshah contains examples of all Rashi methods. Visit the RashiYomi website at http://www.Rashiyomi.com for further details and examples.