Their presence in Rashis on Parshat KoRaCh Volume 10, Number 7
Used in the monthly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
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June 26th, 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 Nu18-27a discussing the requirement of levites to tithe their tithe for Priests states Thus speak to the Levites, and say to them, When you take of the people of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then you shall offer up an offering of it for the Lord, a tenth part of the tithe. And this your offering shall be reckoned to you, as though it were the grain of the threshing floor, and as the fullness of the winepress. Rashi clarifies the underlined words grain of the threshing floor, by referencing verse(s) Nu18-12, discussing the gifts given to priests which states All the best of the oil, and all the best of the wine, and of grain, the first fruits of them which they shall offer to the Lord, these have I given you. Hence the Rashi comment: The Levite's tithe'd tithe has the same status as the grain gift from Israelites to priests. As explicitly stated in Nu18-13 only ritually pure people may eat it (male or female). Furthermore as stated in Lv22-14 non-Priests who improperly eat these holy items pay a 25% fine.
Advanced Rashi: Note the unusual feature that Rashi cross references two verses: One verse indicates the requirement to eat the priestly gifts in ritual purity while the other verse indicates a 25% fine for (accidental) violation of the requirement.
The verse only states that the tithe of the tithe shall be reckoned to you as grain priestly gifts. It does not explicitly indicate the similarity - how is levite tithe similar to priestly gifts? Rashi has explained above that the similarity refers to the requirements and punishments of how the gifts may be eaten. The driving force for this aspect of Rashi comes from the style rule and will be revisited in rule #6 below.
When Rashi uses what we might loosely call the hononym method he shows the underlying unity in disparate meanings of the same root. Very often this unity clarifies further known meanings.
As can be seen all the meanings are simply connected with the fundamental idea of hollow, hole and cavity.
Two familiar functions of grammar in all languages are pronoun reference and plurality.
Hebrew is more flexible than English in pronoun reference. In other languages a a pronoun refers to the last mentioned person. However in Hebrew pronoun reference can be determined by the most logical connection even if it is not the last mentioned noun.
We can apply this suffix-word distinction to the translation of verse Nu16-10a: and that He hath brought only you near, and all thy brethren the sons of Levi with thee? and will ye seek the priesthood also? Here we have embedded the Rashi comment: Only you, the Levites may assist in Temple service; Lay Israelites may not do so, in the translation as indicated by the underlined word only. Rashi's point is that Moses seemed to counter their rebellion-point we have been left out by a counter argument only you the Levites may assist in the Temple.
The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Nu18-20a Both verses/verselets discuss the lack of Levite portion in Israel. The alignment justifies the Rashi assertion that Levites did not a) inherit the land upon entry nor b) take apportionments in conquests
Advanced Rashi: Everyone agrees that there is an alignment with an emphasis on two nuances, inheritance and apportionment. Rashi and Raavad explain as we have presented above - no inheritance on initial inheritance and no apportionment on conquests.
But the Rambam states There is no inheritance on initial conquest nor apportionment in the three lands annexed to Israel at the time of the coming of the Messiah. But Levites do take apportionment in conquests! Remarkable! The Raavad demurs: But the Bible explicitly states that the Levite 10% is in exchange for inheritance. So this would apply to conquests.
The Rambam can be defended by the extra underlined word in this verse, Nu18-21: And, behold, I have given the sons of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, an exchange for their service which they serve, the service of the Tent of Meeting. So, the Rambam argues, the Levite 10% is only in exchange for inheritances. The Rambam does accept the double nuances of the alignment. However the Rambam argues that the two nuances refer to the initial inheritance and the future inheritance at the time of King Messiah (Both of these inheritances were promised to the Patriarch Abraham). Since however the verse explicitly delimits the 10% tithe exchange to inheritances it logically follows that Levites can apportion conquests.
The above explanation of the controversy of the early authorities is a peach of an example of how to apply the methods of this list to the resolution of controversies. Notice how all authorities agree on the fact of alignment and the resolution by two nuances. However Rambam adds an additional textual exegesis which delimits the two nuances to inheritances while Rashi and Raavad do not.
The table below presents two contradictory verses. Both verses talk about the similarity of the Levite Tithed-Tithe to granary grain. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says it (the tithed tithe) will have the same status as granary grain [which must be eaten in ritual purity] - Nu18-12:13 while the other verse says you will raise a gift (tithed-tithe) to the priest .....it will be like granary grain ... you can eat it anywhere Which is it? Must there be ritual purity or may it be eaten anywhere (even the cemetery). Rashi simply resolves this using the 2 Stages Method method: 1) You separate tithe from the tithe (If the Terumah was not separated you separate that first). This tithed tithe has a status of granary grain gifts which must be eaten in ritual purity (Nu18-11:13). 2) Then the remaining grain will have the status of granary grain (after gifts have been separated) They can be eaten anyplace even in the cemetery (Nu18-31:32).
Certain Biblical paragraphs are stated in a Theme-Development-Theme form. In other words a broad general idea is stated first followed by the development of this broad general theme in specific details. The paragraph-like unit is then closed with a repetition of the broad theme. The Theme-Detail-Theme form creates a unified paragraph. The detailed section of this paragraph is therefore seen as an extension of the general theme sentences. Today's example illustrates this as shown immediately below.
Rashi treats the entire set of three verses as one paragraph with a central theme developed by details. The paragraph in essence states The Levites must give priestly gifts from their tithe similar to the Israelite gifts to the priests. Rashi interprets this to mean that the Levite and Israelite gifts are examples of the general category of gifts to the priest. The point here is that the paragraph structure indicates an underlying commonality to all gifts to priests, whether from Israelites or Levites. Since these gifts are all the same they all have the same requirements. They are all treated the same.
These requirements are spelled out in two verses. Verse Nu18-13 states that only people who are ritually pure may eat it; however it can be eaten by anybody - male or female. Verse Lv22-14 states that those non-Priests who accidentally eat holy gifts must pay a 25% fine.
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 Nu16-30b discussing the punishment that will befall the Korach rebellion states But if the Lord creates a creation, and the earth opens her mouth, and swallows them up, with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into Sheol; then you shall understand that these men have provoked the Lord. The underlined phrase - creates a creation - is a verb-noun repetition. General Repetition indicates emphasisis. The great 19th century Biblical exegete, the Malbim, explained that the specific noun-verb repetition applies its emphasis by requiring the noun to be intrinsic and not haphazard. Thus cooking a cookie indicates not haphazard cooking but rather cooking with a specific structure, the structure of a cookie. Similarly, sitting in a seat indicates that the seat is an actual seat, not, sitting e.g. on a table or bed.
Consequently Rashi interprets the phrase create a creation to indicate not something entirely new but rather the creation of something established to punish those who rebel against prophecy. In other words God traditionally punishes cities and countries that rebel against prophecy by earthquakes. So Moses says here If these people die normally - either a natural death or something totally unforseen - then Korach is right, I am not God's messenger. But if they die through an earthquake which God uses to punishes rebellions against prophecy then you will know that I am God's prophetic messenger and these people, Korach, have rebelled against God.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi literally says: If a creation from the six days of creation exists fine, but if not God should create a new creation and devour Korach. Such a formulation is simply a poetic play on words. Similarly the reference to the six days of creation is a poetic description of something established for rebellions, not entirely new.
But why did I deviate from Rashi's poetic translation and classify it as poetic but not the real reason. The answer is very deep. I have chosen an explanation method - repettion or verb-noun repetition that is common to many verses and is always interpreted the same way. Such an approach is more satisfying since it enables the student to learn and apply new principles. For this reason I chose Malbim's verb-noun repetition principle. Malbim himself chose this principle because of its universality. Once this principle was chosen we then re-reviewed Rashi and perceived the phrases he used - six days of creation - if it exists fine - as referring to established punishments against prophecy rebellions. As we go thru the yearly cycle we will have other opportunities to see this principle in action.
Today we ask the database query: How are genealogies indicated? The query uncovers many examples. An examination of these examples justifies the Rashi assertion that Genealogy by father is standard. Genealogy by brother indicates help in marriage. Genealogy with omission indicates lack of approval.
The table below presents results of the query along with illustrations of Rashi's comment.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi cutely mentions 1C06-22:23 where the sons of Korach who composed, sang and delivered temple songs, were listed in full genealogy going back to Jacob. This verse contrasts nicely with our verse.
The main point here is that the database method uncovers the innuendo and exposes it as intended by the author. The large number of standard genealogies proves that non-standard genealogies were intentionally produced to hint at certain inuendos.
9. RASHI METHOD: SPREADSHEETS
BRIEF EXPLANATION: The common denominator of the 3 submethods of the Spreadsheet method is that inferences are made from non textual material. The 3 submethods are as follows:
URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w33n24.htm
Brief Summary: Don't DESCECRATE the Sanctuary and Don't Die. RASHI: So if you DESCECRATE it you DIE.
Verse Nu18-32b the prohibition of descecrating Temple objects states And you shall bear no sin because of it, when you have set aside the best of it; you shall not descecrate the holy things of the people of Israel, and you shall not die. Rashi comments: This should be interpreted causatively: If you descecrate the holy things then you deserve to, and will, die.
To properly understand this we review certain rules of logic. The export-import law allows the conjunction and to exchange for an implication. For example, If it rains today and I don't have an umbrella, then I will get wet has the same logical meaning as If it rains today then if I don't have an umbrella, then I will get wet
In the Bible a statement of the form do not descecrate and you will not die has the same logical meaning as do not descecrate; if you descecrate then you will die.
Since this interpretation primarily involves the formal manipulation of logical connectives we classify it as a non verse rule similar to the spreadsheet and diagram methods.
There are many examples of this rule in the Torah and we will have opportunity to visit it during this yearly cycle.
This week's parshah does not contain examples of the Rashi symbolism methods. Visit the RashiYomi website at http://www.Rashiyomi.com for further details and examples.