Their presence in Rashis on Parshat BaLaK Volume 11, Number 1
Rashi is Simple - Volume 34 Number 1
Used in the weekly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
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July 10th, 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 Nu24-20b, discussing the prophecies of Bilam on Amalayk, states And when he looked on Amalek, he took up his discourse, and said, Amalek was the first of the nations; but his latter end shall be that of everlasting perdition. Rashi clarifies the underlined words first, end by referencing verse(s) Dt25-17:19, discussing the Biblical commandments on Amalayk which states Remember what Amalek did to you by the way, when you came forth out of Egypt; How he met you by the way, and struck at your rear, all who were feeble behind you, when you were faint and weary; and he did not fear God. Therefore it shall be, when the Lord your God has given you rest from all your enemies around, in the land which the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance to possess, that you shall blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; you shall not forget it. Hence the Rashi comment: The verse, Nu24-20b should be read as follows: Amalayk was the first of nations [i.e. first nation to attack the Jews after leaving Egypt] and his end shall be destruction [As the Torah commanded.]
An idiom is a collection of words which means more than the sum of the meanings of each of the phrases' individual words. Verse Nu22-39a discussing the place Bilam and Balak went to when Bilam arrived states And Balaam went with Balak, and they came to outside village. Rashi explains: The phrase outside village is an idiom meaning a village specializing in many open outside markets on the streets We can compactly combine the Rashi comment with the Biblical text by translating as follows: And Balaam went with Balak, and they came to Market village.
Most people are aware that Hebrew verbs come from three-letter roots. Each root is conjugated in the 8 dimensions of person, gender,plurality, tense, activity, modality, direct-object, and prepositional connective. 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 Nu25-04c discussing Moses order to execute the adulterers states And the Lord said to Moses, Take all the chiefs of the people, and hang them up before the Lord in the sun, that the fierce anger of the Lord may be turned away from Israel. Rashi translates the Biblical word Hey-Vav-Kuph-Ayin as coming from the Biblical root Yud-Kuph-Ayin which means to hang . We have conveniently embedded the Rashi translation in the translation of the verse. The conjugation rule governing this Biblical word may be found by using tables Feb - 10, - 2010 in the Ibn Shoshan dictionary for the causative mode (Hifil).
Advanced Rashi: Several points should be made here. First: The root Yud-Kuph-Ayin has 2 weak letters - the first letter is a Yud and the last letter is an Ayin. Hence the conjugation of this root may be truly said to be rare. Second: We note that the cousin commentator, the Radak, classifies this root similarly in his definitive work, Roots. Finally we note the contrast that Yud-Kuph-Ayin means to hang while Kuph-Ayin-Ayin means to dislodge. Many Yud-2-3 roots indicate potential of the 2-3 root. In this case hanging would indicate an activity that is potentially dislodging. Indeed, every hanging does have the potential to dislodge. By reviewing a series of Yud-2-3 roots we could show many other examples where the prefix Yud in a root indicates potential. E.g. Yud-Kuph-Mem = to fulfill = the potential to rise up; Yud-Cheth-Mem = arousal = potential to become hot; Yud- Ayin-Tzade = advice = potential to become fruitful (Literally: potential to become tree-like.. There are many more.
The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Nu22-07, Nu22-08. Both verses/verselets discuss a request to Bilam to curse the Jews. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: The Moabite princes and Midianite scholars both requested assistance from Bilam to curse the Jews. But Bilam hesitated and asked a night to think about it. The Midianite scholars interpreted hesitancy as a sign of weakness, concluded he was fake and left him.
The table below presents two contradictory verses. Both verses talk about what Bilam knew. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says Bilam knew the thoughts of God while the other verse says Bilam didn't know about an Angel that his donkey saw! Which is it? Was Bilam a prophetic genious knowing all sorts of things about God, or was he an idiot who knew less than a donkey. Rashi simply resolves this using the broad-literal method: Since Bilam did not see an angel which his donkey did see we conclude Bilam was quite ignorant. We therefore interpret non-literally the verse statement he knew the thoughts of the High one: This statement should be perceived as stated with irony; it reflects his bragging self conception rather than his true self.
Certain Biblical paragraphs are stated in an example form. In other words an example of a law is stated rather than the full general rule. The reader's task is to generalize the example. The idea that all Biblical laws should be perceived as examples (unless otherwise indicated) is explicitly stated by Rashi (Pesachim 6.). This is a rule of style since the rule requires that a text be perceived as an example rather than interpreted literally. The Rabbi Ishmael style rules govern the interpretation of style.
Verse Nu22-22c discussing how Bilam journeyed states And God?s anger was kindled because he went; and the angel of the Lord stood in the way as an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him. Rashi commenting on the underlined phrases states: We generalize the underlined phrase: Any distinguished person like Bilam should take two servants with him on trips. This way the two servants talk to each other and the distinguished person avoids being involved in lower level conversations.
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 source justifies it. For this reason we consider the climax method a distinct and separate method.
Today we ask the database query: When/how does the prophecy take place. The query uncovers 5 examples. An examination of these examples justifies the Rashi assertion that Non-Mosaic prophecy takes place at night. Mosaic prophecy takes place by day The table below presents results of the query along with illustrations of Rashi's comment.
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/w34n1.htm
Brief Summary: Very often consent to affairs is made conditional on at least outward participation in religious affiliation
Verse Nu25-02a discussing the seduction of Jewish men by the Midianite women states And Israel stayed in Shittim, and the people began to commit harlotry with the daughters of Moab. And they called the people to the sacrifices of their gods; and the people ate, and bowed down to their gods. The verse mentions harlotry and idolatry. Rashi explains the connection utilizing known world social patterns: Affairs are frequently coupled with religious preconditions. For example one partner may request outward social participation with their religious institutions. Here the request is not for a belief committment but rather for an external display so that the affair does not cause the severance of the person's religious ties. Hence if the Jewish men requested affairs the Midianite women most probably requested appearance in their religious temples and religious social events among their circle of friends. Here the request was not for belief but just for an external display. Nevertheless because of the severity of the idolatry sin the intent and goals is not relevant when considering punishment.
The above Rashi comment is based on real world facts. That is Rashi uses real world facts and patterns to supplement a possibly implied causality between the harlotry and idolatry mentioned in the Biblical text. Such a usage of real world facts to explain a plausible causal connection is classifed as a NonVerse method since the driving force of the inference is not textual but rather known social patterns.
This week's parshah contains examples of all Rashi methods. Visit the RashiYomi website at http://www.Rashiyomi.com for further details and examples.