Their presence in Rashis on Parshat Re'eh Volume 11, Number 8
Rashi is Simple - Volume 34 Number 8
Used in the weekly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
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August 28th, 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(s) Dt16-09a discussing the obligation to count 7 weeks states Seven weeks shall you count; begin to number the seven weeks from such time as you begin to put the sickle to the grain. Rashi clarifies the underlined words put the sickle to the grain by referencing verse(s) Lv23-10:15 discussing the counting of 7 weeks from Passover to Pentecost, which states Speak to the people of Israel, ...When you come to the land ...and shall reap its harvest, then you shall bring a omer offering ... And you shall count ... from the day that you brought the omer of the wave offering; seven sabbaths... Hence the Rashi comment: The phrase put the sickle to the grain in Dt16-09a refers to the omer offering brought during Passover since the omer is done at the beginning of the harvest (sickle to the grain!).
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.
The Hebrew root Nun-Shim-Mem means to breath and hence this same root refers to the soul, the breath of life. When a Hebrew word has a prefix or suffix Tauv it refers not to the root itself but to the signs of the root. In fact the Hebrew word Tauv means signs. So for example the Hebrew root Aleph-Vav-Resh means light,sight, appearance while Tauv-Aleph-Resh refers to the figure the signs of the sight or appearance.
Hence the Tauv-Nun-Shin-Mem-Tauv would be an animal whose sign is breathing. It is intereesting that Rashi only translates the word in Dt14-16a. However at Lv11-18a Rashi is more elaborate: The Tauv-Nun-Shin-Mem-Tauv resembles a mouse that flies at night. The various English Bibles suggest either an owl or bat. Both these animals are known for their shrieks. Thus we have the Shriek owl. Similarly we know that bats navigate sonically.
We have in this Rashi an example of how an animal is named by its distinguishing characteristic and this fact is indicated by the prefix and suffix Tauv.
Most people are aware that Hebrew has 3 tenses: Past, present, future. However most people are unaware that there are over a dozen meanings of tenses. Consider the following two sentences: I am walking to synagogue versus I walk to synagogue every day. The first sentence - I am walking to synagogue - indicates something happening now, in the present, while the second sentence, I walk to synagogue every day indicates something habitual.
We can summarize this as follows: There are at least two types of present: A simple present - I am walking to synagogue - and a habitual present - I walk to synagogue every day. We will refer to these as verb semantics or verb meanings. They are the types of meaning that a verb can have.
By contrast the form in which we write the verb - walk, walking, walked, will walk, did walk - will be referred to as the verb conjugations.
The challenge in learning grammar is to learn which verb conjugations go with which verb meanings. Most people are unaware that Hebrew uses the same conjugation for multiple meanings!!!!
Because this concept is complicated let me re-summarize it with the examples given above: The sentences I walk to synagogue every day and I am walking to synagogue illustrate two verb meanings: simple present activity and habitual activity. The verb forms - walk, walking are two verb conjugations, forms. In English walking is a verb form, conjugation associated with the verb meaning of something done at the present time while walk is a verb form, conjugation associated with the verb meaning of a habitual activity.
Scholars have erroneously not distinguished between verb meaning and form. This has created complications. However once you distinguish many things become clear. Todays example illustrates this.
Prefixing a tauv is a verb conjugation, form. One usage of this form is to indicate a future activity. But the same conjugation can also indicate a habitual activity. This explains the following Rashi: If we interpret the prefix Tauv as indicating a future activity then we would translate Dt15-19:20a as All the firstling males that come of your herd and of your flock you shall sanctify to the Lord your God; you shall do no work with the firstling of your bulls, nor shear the firstling of your sheep. You should eat it before the Lord your God year by year in the place which the Lord shall choose, you and your household. However the future conjugation in Hebrew can also have a meaning of habitual present. Consequently we translate the verses as follows: All the firstling males that come of your herd and of your flock you shall sanctify to the Lord your God; you shall do no work with the firstling of your bulls, nor shear the firstling of your sheep. One eats it before the Lord your God year by year in the place which the Lord shall choose, you and your household. Notice how we mirrored the Rashi comment with the English conjugations of eat and eats.
Advanced Rashi: Note the contrast: English indicates the habitual with the present conjugation while Hebrew indicates the habitual with the future conjugation. Both approaches are logical. After all if I walk to synagogue every day I am walking there today(Now). But it is equally logical that in the future I will be walking there. The proper approach is to sharply differentiate between form/conjugation and meaning. Whatever conjugation is used, it should be translated, in other languages, to reflect meaning. Hence we have translated One eats the firstborn in Jerusalem.
But how do we know the Bible isn't commanding us to eat our firstborn flock in Jerusalem? This Rashi is continued in rule #5, contradiction below.
The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Dt12-11c Both verses/verselets discuss the offering of sacrifices in the Temple. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: The voluntary offerings must be offered from the choicest of animals.
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.
Because the General-Theme-General style is perceived as a paragraph, therefore, we take the Detail phrase as a development of the general phrase. The logical conclusion would be You can buy meats and plant derived drinks.
Quite startingly the Rambam, Second Tithes, 7:1-3, states that honey, milk and eggs are also OK. The Rambam's logic is that You can buy items that grow from land-based food (cattle, sheep) as well as items derived from land-based-food animals (wine but also honey, milk and eggs). True, the Rambam categorizes and defends the law! But wouldn't it be more logical to simply state meats and plant-based drinks.
Problems like this arise frequently in interpretation of the General Theme General law. My own feeling is that the final law comes from two Rashi methods: a) the style rules and also b) the use of special words like all. In other words if the verse did not use the word all I would simply generalize the detail clause restrictively and only allow meats and plant based drinks but not honey, milk and eggs. However because of the word all I generalize more broadly and allow animal meats and animal derived products (eggs, honey, milk) as well as plant-based drinks (Wine, bear). We exclude fruit, water, salt, and spices.
This idea of combining the style rules with the special word rules (all) seems to solve many problems in the Rabbi Ishmael style exegesii.
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 Dt15-08c discussing the requirement to give charity illustrates this repetition principle. It states If there is among you a poor man of one of your brothers inside any of your gates in your land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not harden your heart, nor shut your hand from your poor brother; But you shall open your hand wide to him, and shall surely load load him sufficient for his need, in that which he lacks. Rashi commenting on the repeated underlined words, load, load states Load him, as indicated, with a charity gift. If he doesn't want a charity gift load him with a loan. (In other words load in any way possible.)
-------------------- ' | ' -----------------| Split hoof with one toe covering (not valid for Kashruth) ' | '------------------- -------------------- ' | ' ------------------ Split hoof with two toe coverings (valid for Kashruth) ' | '-------------------
This week's parshah contains no examples of the symbolism method. Visit the RashiYomi website at http://www.Rashiyomi.com for further details and examples.