Their presence in Rashis on Parshat PiNeChaS Volume 11, Number 2
Rashi is Simple - Volume 34 Number 2
Used in the weekly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
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July 17th, 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 Nu24-39b, discussing the obligation to fulfill ones vows on festivals states These things you shall do to the Lord in your set feasts, beside your vows, and your freewill offerings, for your burnt offerings, and for your meal offerings, and for your drink offerings, and for your peace offerings. Rashi clarifies the underlined words vows by referencing verse(s) Dt23-22:24, discussing the Biblical commandment to keep ones vows (and not delay them) which states When you shall vow a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not be slack to pay it; for the Lord your God will surely require it of you; and it would be sin in you. But if you shall forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in you. That which is gone out of your lips you shall keep and perform; even a freewill offering, according to what you have vowed to the Lord your God, which you have promised with your mouth. Hence the Rashi comment: ...the vows he made during the year should be fulfilled on the festival; otherwise he will be far away, unable to fulfill them, and violate the prohibition against delaying vows.
When Rashi uses, what we may losely call, the hononym method, Rashi does not explain new meaning but rather shows an underlying unity in disparate meanings. Rashi will frequently do this by showing an underlying unity in the varied meanings of a Biblical root.
In my article Peshat and Derash found on the world wide web at http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rashi.pdf I advocate enriching the Rashi explanation using a technique of parallel nifty translations in modern English. Today's examples show this.
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 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 illustrate this Rashi principle with the translation of the following verse. To facilitate understanding the Rashi we underlined the two nouns and interpolated the Rashi comment in the translation showing that the pronoun reference refers to the more distant noun. And one kid of the goats for a sin offering to the Lord shall be offered, beside the continual burnt offering, and its [the sin-offering] drink offering.
The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Nu29-19, Nu29-28, Nu29-31. Both verses/verselets discuss the offering festival libations. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: The verses speak about its libation, its libations, and their libations. There were in fact multiple libations: There was the traditional oil-wine-flour libation. There was also an additional libation - the water libation.
Praise be Him who chose them and their learning.
Note that this Rashi also deals with certain symbolic issues. We therefore regard this Rashi comment as a multiple Rashi comment and will deal with the other Rashi comments in future issues.
The table below presents two contradictory verses. Both verses talk about the hand-placement inauguration ceremony of Joshua. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says God ordered Moses to place his hand on Joshua for the inauguration. while the other verse says Moses placed both his hands on Joshua for inauguration. Which is it? Was one or two hands suppose to be placed on Joshua. Rashi simply resolves this using the broad-literal method: The literal requirement was for Moses to place one hand on Joshua for the inauguration. This symbolized delegation and transfer of responsibility. However symbolically Moses did not have to give Joshua his full powers. Moses then interpreted God's order broadly. He placed both hands on Joshua during the inauguration cermemony symbolizing not only a transfer and delegation of responsibility but a full and generous giving over of all his powers and capacities.
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.
Verses Nu29-12:39 discussing the offerings brought on each of the 8 days of Succoth-Shmini-Azereth states And on the fifteenth day of the seventh month you shall ... And you shall offer a burnt offering, thirteen young bulls,.... And on the second day you shall offer twelve young bulls,... And on the third day eleven bulls, ... And on the fourth day ten bulls, ... And on the fifth day nine bulls, ... And on the sixth day eight bulls, ... And on the seventh day seven bulls, .... On the eighth day... But you shall offer one bull, one ram, .... Rashi commenting on the underlined phrases states: Immediately after the forgiveness of Yom Kippur we are in ecstasy and offer 14 bulls. As the holiday progresses we offer 13,12,11...,7, until on the last day we offer 1. This ecstasy with a graduated decrease to normalacy is a prototype for all interpersonal occasions of happiness (Both between God and man and between man and man) - We should always start big and gradually return to normalacy.
Very often Rashi will make an inference from the paragraph structure. A typical paragraph structures can be parallel or contrastive with or without bullets. The parallel and contrastive structure naturally generate Rashi comments. This type of inference also follows from the Rabbi Ishmael Style rule of inferring from context since the paragraph structure endows the disparate paragraph sentences with a unified context.
Today we ask the database query: Which Biblical holidays have reasons given for their names. The query uncovers 4 examples. An examination of these examples justifies the Rashi assertion that Shmini Azereth is the only Biblical holiday whose name is not explained. Since the other holidays have their names explained we are therefore justified in also explaining the name of Shmini Azereth. We can explain its name by the meaning of its underlying root Ayin-Tzade-Resh which means to hold back. So to speak, God says to the Jewish people: You have been here for Sukkoth 7 days - don't go - let me hold you back one more day. The table below presents results of the query along with illustrations of Rashi's comment.
Advanced Rashi: Many people understand this Rashi using the meaning method. Rashi is simply obtaining meaning from the underlying root. We have enriched the Rashi by combining the meaning and database method. The database method shows that holidays do have reasons for their names. So Rashi is not just applying the root meaning to the holiday, rather, Rashi is continuing the Biblical tradition of naming holidays by important commemorative criteria.
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:
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Brief Summary: Why should the lack of a son cause our father's name to vanish, rather, give us an inheritance to preserve his name [Rashi: They wouldn't have complained if they had a brother]
Verse Nu25-04b discussing Zelafchad's daughter's petition for inheritance to perpetuate their father's memory states Why should the lack of a son cause the name of our father to be forgotten from among his family? [rather] Give unto us a possession among the brethren of our father.'
Rashi identifies their petition with #2 not #1. In other words the petition was not that non-inheritance of girls causes less of a distribution among the deceased's survivors but rather that the non-inheritance of the girls causes no distribution among the deceased's survivors. This would result in forgetting the deceased. Rashi makes this inference from the underlined words in the verse, cited in the first paragraph: lack of a son cause In other words the petition was about no inheritance not about less inheritance.
Rashi concludes: They were not feminists fighting for more inheritance. Rather they correctly identified the driving force of their petition as the potential erasure of their father's name. To remedy this they wanted to inherit to preserve their father's name. By focusing on non-personal issues (erasure of the deceased's name) we see their perceptive and discrete approach to the whole situation.
We have already explained the symbolic meaning of Shmini Azereth in rule #6, style above. We recap here: Immediately after the forgiveness of Yom Kippur we are in ecstasy and offer 14 bulls. As the holiday progresses we offer 13,12,11...,7, bulls until on the last day we offer 1. This ecstasy with a graduated decrease to normalacy is a prototype for interpersonal occasions of happiness - start big and gradually return to normalacy. In effect God is telling us: We (God and Jews) had such a good time Yom Kippur when you were totally forgiven; in this moment of ecstasy we had a big meal (huge number of animals offered) on the first day of Sukkoth. We then gradually returned to normalacy (Symbolized by the decreasing number of bulls offered per day). Finally after the wedding and honeymoon are over God says to the Jews:'Please don't go - stay one more day for a small but intimate get together (Symbolized by the offering of only one bull). This symbolism illustrates dealing with the contrastive emotions of ecstasy and intimacy.
This week's parshah contains examples of all Rashi methods. Visit the RashiYomi website at http://www.Rashiyomi.com for further details and examples.