The 10 RashiYomi Rules
Their presence in Rashis on Parshat ShoFeTim
Volume 11, Number 9
Rashi is Simple - Volume 34 Number 9

Used in the weekly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
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(c) RashiYomi Incorporated, Dr. Hendel, President,
Sep 3rd, 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.


    BRIEF EXPLANATION: Commentary on a verse is provided thru a cross-reference to another verse. The cross references can either provide
    • (1a) further details,
    • (1b) confirm citations, or
    • (1c) clarify word meaning.
    This examples applies to Rashis Dt21-07a
    URL Reference: (c);
    Brief Summary: We didn't kill this person THAT IS we didn't see AND NEGLECT him (Dt21-07) - Corresponds to Don't STAND by your friend's blood (Lv19-16)

Verse(s) Dt21-07a discussing the prayers by the elders of the Jewish community asking God to forgive the Jewish community for the unknown murder they found states And they shall answer and say, Our hands have not shed this blood, nor have our eyes seen. Rashi clarifies the underlined words seen by referencing verse(s) Lv19-16 discussing the prohibition of abstaining from helping someone attacked which states ....nor shall you stand against the blood of your neighbor; I am the Lord. Hence the Rashi comment: The phrase we did not see in Dt21-07 references the prohibition of not standing by the blood of your neighbor in Lv19-16. In other words the elders are stating that they did not abstain from helping the murdered victim, for example, by providing hospitality, lodging and escort as (s)he passed through their town.

Text of Target verse Dt21-07a Text of Reference Verse Lv19-16
And they shall answer and say, Our hands have not shed this blood, nor have our eyes seen. ....nor shall you stand against the blood of your neighbor; I am the Lord.
Rashi comments: The phrase we did not see in Dt21-07 references the prohibition of not standing by the blood of your neighbor in Lv19-16. In other words the elders are stating that they did not abstain from helping the murdered victim, for example, by providing hospitality, lodging and escort as (s)he passed through their town.

    Advanced Rashi: But there are two clauses in this verse. The verse states And they shall answer and say,
    • Our hands have not shed this blood
    • nor have our eyes seen.
    I believe Rashi explains the 1st clause as being in apposition to the 2nd clause. In other words Rashi would read the entire verse as follows.
    • And they shall answer and say, Our hands have not shed this blood - [in other words,]
    • nor have our eyes seen [we have not stood by and avoided providing hospitality, escort, and lodging].
    In other words Rashi sees the statement we haven't killed him as meaning we aren't partially responsible for his murder because we avoided providing hospitality - in fact we provide hospitality and lodging to people who pass thru our town.

    Rashis literal statement is as follows: Did anyone accuse the elders of murder; why then are they denying it. Rather it means that they didn't cause his murder by neglecting hospitality and lodging. We have taken this Rashi and explained it as follows:
  • Rashi 1st explains the 2nd clause - we did not see him
  • Rashi explains this clause by implicitly referring to the prohibition of standing by the blood of ones neighbor
  • Rashi presumably understands the 1st clause as explaining the 2nd clause - we did not kill this person by avoiding seeing his needs.

      BRIEF EXPLANATION: The meaning of words can be explained either by
      • (2a) translating an idiom, a group of words whose collective meaning transcends the meaning of its individual component words,
      • (2b) explaining the nuances and commonality of synonyms-homographs,
      • (2c) describing the usages of connective words like also,because,if-then, when,
      • (2d) indicating how grammatical conjugation can change word meaning
      • (2e) changing word meaning using the figures of speech common to all languages such as irony and oxymorons.
      This examples applies to Rashis Dt20-20a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: The Hebrew root Yud-Resh-Dalet can mean a) to fall b) to conquer

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 I advocate enriching the Rashi explanation using a technique of parallel nifty translations in modern English. Today's examples show this.

The Hebrew root Yud-Resh-Dalet means both to fall and to conquer. The relation of these two meanings should be clear. When you beat a person up they typically fall to the ground. Similarly when you defeat or destroy a city its buildings typically are felled to the gound.

We apply the above to verse Dt20-20a. If we translated Yud-Resh-Dalet as meaning fall then we would translate the verse as follows: Only the trees which you know are not trees for food, you shall destroy and cut them down; and you shall build siege works against the city that makes war with you, until it has fallen. Already the Davka translation of this verse which I frequently use in this email list translates the Hebrew root Yud-Resh-Dalet as meaning subdue. Only the trees which you know are not trees for food, you shall destroy and cut them down; and you shall build siege works against the city that makes war with you, until it is subdued. Conquered could be an alternate translation,

      BRIEF EXPLANATION: Rashi explains verses using grammar principles, that is, rules which relate reproducable word form to word meaning. Grammatical rules neatly fall into 3 categories
      • (a) the rules governing conjugation of individual words,Biblical roots,
      • (b) the rules governing collections of words,clauses, sentences
      • (c) miscellaneous grammatical, or form-meaning, rules.
      This examples applies to Rashis Dt21-08a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: Elders and priests say: WE have not caused death GOD: Forgives THEM

Two familiar functions of grammar in all languages are pronoun reference and plurality.

    With this in mind let us examine the pronouns and references in Dt21-07:08 And they shall answer and say,
    1. Our hands have not shed this blood,
    2. nor have our eyes seen it.
    3. Be merciful, O Lord, to your people Israel, whom you have redeemed,
    4. and lay not innocent blood to your people of Israel?s charge.
    5. And the blood shall be forgiven them.
    Note the subtle use of pronouns.
    • In bullets 1,2 the Jews are speaking so the pronoun our is used.
    • But then in bullets 3,4, instead of using the pronoun us, the reference your nation Israel is used. This is a standard literary technique - reference by name vs. pronoun - and is used in situations where a lack of familiarity is to be emphasized. Here because we are asking God for a favor the non-pronoun form is used. (Interestingly in French there are two pronouns - one for familiarity and one for formality).
    • Bullet #5 uses the pronoun them. There are two ways to interpret this.
      • We could interpret this as use of a distant pronoun - them vs. us. If so this would be a continuation of the prayer of the priests. It would be a request may the blood be atoned for them which means may the blood be atoned for us.
      • Or, the prayer could have stopped in bullet 4, and now the Bible is assuring them, that the prayer-affirmation of responsibility is sufficient to effect atonement.

Now we can cite the Rashi paraphrased. The prayer of the elders and priests is presented in bullets #1-4. The Bible then assures us in bullet #5 that the prayer suffices to effect atonement. This seems very reasonable. After all the sole possible sin of the city is that they did not provide hospitality to a stranger passing through the city. Their affirmation that they consider lack of hospitality akin to murder suffices to atone for any possible negligence.

    BRIEF EXPLANATION: Aligning two almost identically worded verselets can suggest
    • (4a) 2 cases of the same incident or law
    • (4b) emphasis on the nuances of a case
    • (4c) use of broad vs literal usage of words
    This examples applies to Rashis Dt18-12a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: Whoever does FROM ANY of these things; whoever does ANY of these things. RASHI: Even one.

The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Dt18-12, Lv18-29 Both verses/verselets discuss the loathesomeness of pagan practices. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: Even one of the listed loathesome acts is fully loathesome. One need not do many of them before one is classified as loathesome.

Verse Text of Verse Rashi comment
Dt18-12a For all that do these things are an abomination to the Lord; and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you. Even one of the listed loathesome acts is fully loathesome. One need not do many of them before one is classified as loathesome. It is loathesome whether you do (all) these things or (one) from these things.
Lv18-29 For whoever shall do from any of these abominations, the souls who commit them shall be cut off from among their people.

      BRIEF EXPLANATION:Rashi resolves contradictory verses using 3 methods.
      • (5a) Resolution using two aspects of the same event
      • (5b) Resolution using two stages of the same process
      • (5c) Resolution using broad-literal interpretation.
      This examples applies to Rashis Dt20-14a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: Kill all ADULT males and take into captivity all CHILDREN (whether male or female)

    The table below presents two contradictory verses. Both verses talk about treatment of a conquered nation. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says kill all males, while the other verse says take captive women and children. Which is it? Are male children taken captive or killed? Rashi simply resolves this using the 2 aspects method: Adult males are killed. But all children are taken captive, whether male or female.

Summary Verse / Source Text of verse / Source
All adult males are killed Dt20-13 And when the Lord your God has delivered it into your hands, you shall strike all its males with the edge of the sword;
All children are taken captive, whether male or female. Dt20-14 But the women, and children, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, all the plunder from it, shall you take for yourself; and you shall eat the plunder of your enemies, which the Lord your God has given you.
Resolution: 2 Aspects Adult males are killed. But all children are taken captive, whether male or female.

Advanced Rashi: The resolution here was logical. Rashi could have said Kill all males whether adult or children and only take the female children captive. Why did Rashi chose one resolution over the other? I think the driving force behind this is the argument that adult males are used in military defense and therefore the adult males must be killed. There is no reason to kill the male children.

Consequently this Rashi is interesting in that common sense and attribution of reasons to the verse directives are used to resolve the contradiction.

    Rashi examines how rules of style influences inferences between general and detail statements in paragraphs.
    • Example: Every solo example stated by the Bible must be broadly generalized;
    • Theme-Detail: A general principle followed by an example is interpreted restrictively---the general theme statement only applies in the case of the example;
    • Theme-Detail-Theme: A Theme-Detail-Theme unit is interpreted as a paragraph. Consequently the details of the paragraph are generalized so that they are seen as illustrative of the theme.
    This examples applies to Rashis Dt17-08b,c,d URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: You seek guidance from the supreme court, not on general matters, but on yes-no matters, such as whether ritual impurity applies, or whether civil matters cause liability or not.

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.

    Verse Dt17-08 discussing when you should seek guidance from the great court in Jerusalem states
    • General:If there arises a matter too hard for you in judgment,
    • Detail: between blood and blood,
    • Detail: between plea and plea,
    • Detail: and between plague and plague,
    • General: being matters of controversy inside your gates;
    then shall you arise, and get to the place which the Lord your God shall choose;

    The General-Detail-General rule requires perceiving the entire paragraph as a unit. Hence all the detail phrases are seen as exemplifying the general phrases which deal with controversies whose solution is unknown. The examples given are
  • whether a leprosy plague is ritually pure or not
  • whether blood discharges are ritually pure or not
  • whether civil issues result in payment or not.

In other words, each of the detail clauses is interpreted as referring to some yes-no issue - yes, it is ritually pure, vs. no, it is not ritually pure; yes, you are liable money, vs. no, you are not liable money. The emphasis here is that you don't go to Jerusalem because of a general philosophic inquiry - a desire to learn court casee - but only for a specific yes-no issue.

    BRIEF EXPLANATION:Inferences from Biblical formatting:
    • Use of repetition to indicate formatting effects: bold,italics,...;
    • use of repeated keywords to indicate a bullet effect;
    • rules governing use and interpretation of climactic sequence;
    • rules governing paragraph development and discourse
    This examples applies to Rashis Dt18-03a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: If someone FROM nation FROM offerers, offers a sacrifice, give gifts to priest. RASHI: FROM nation not FROM priest.

We have explained in our article Biblical Formatting located on the world wide web at, that the Biblical Author indicated bullets by using repeating keywords.

That is, if a modern author wanted to get a point across using bullets - a list of similar but contrastive items - then the Biblical Author would use repeating keywords. Today's verse illustrates this principle.

    Verse Dt18-03c discussing the requirement to give priestly gifts when offering a sacrifice states And this shall be the priest?s due
    • from the people,
    • from those who offer a sacrifice,
    whether it is ox or sheep; and they shall give to the priest the shoulder, and the two cheeks, and the stomach.
    Rashi commenting on the repeated underlined words, from, which creates a bullet effect giving separate and distinct emphasis to each bullet itemsstates Priestly gifts must come from an offerer who is also from the people - that is from a lay person but not a priest. So a lay person offering a sacrifice does give priestly gifts while a priest offering a sacrifice does not give priestly gifts. The driving force for this derivation comes from the two bullets which emphasize that the person, in order to be required to give the gifts, must both offer sacrifices and be from the people (that is the lay people).

      BRIEF EXPLANATION:Rashi makes inferences from Database queries. The precise definition of database query has been identified in modern times with the 8 operations of Sequential Query Language (SQL).

      This example applies to Rashis Dt17-20b
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: 7 commandments have a reward of long life (Covers all: don't eat blood (Would do it anyway), honor bird parent(easy)...

    Today we ask the database query: Which commandments mention a reward of long life or becoming well off for performing them? The query uncovers half a dozen major examples. An examination of these examples justifies the Rashi assertion that 7 commandments mention the reward of a long life or becoming well. These commandments cover the entire spectrum of commandments
    • Thus there are easy commandments (like letting the mother bird escape when capturing its young),
    • commandments whose violation is disgusting (like eating blood),
    • communal commandments (like have good justice), etc.
    Because these commandments cover the entire spectrum therefore we infer that all commandments if observed will provide a reward of long life.
    The table below presents results of the query along with illustrations of Rashi's comment.

Verse Verse Content Comments on commandment
Dt11-21a That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth. General Observance of commandments
Dt24-19d When you cut down your harvest in your field, and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go again to fetch it; it shall be for the stranger, for the orphan, and for the widow; that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. Leaving forgotten sheaves to indigent (No further action required)
Dt12-25b You shall not eat it; that it may go well with you, and with your children after you, when you shall do that which is right in the sight of the Lord. Prohibition of eating blood (But blood is disgusting and most people would abstain anyway)
Dt22-07a But you shall let the mother go, and take the young to you; that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days. Letting mother bird free when capturing young (An easy commandment)
Ex20-12a Honor your father and your mother; that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God gives you. Honoring parents (Easy commandment; all can do it)
Dt16-20b Justice, only justice shall you pursue, that you may live, and inherit the land which the Lord your God gives you. Communal justice
Dt17-20b That his heart be not lifted up above his brothers, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left; to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel. Requirements of King

    Notice how the commandments above span the entire spectrum
    • General commandments
    • Easy commandments
    • Commandments that would be done anyway
    • Communal commandments
    • Commandments peculiar to Royal house
    • Commandments without action
    Hence the Rashi comment: Observance of any commandment leads to reward. Note the interesting fact that although we have classified this as the database method it could equally be classified as coming from the Style rule of generalization from several verses.

      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:
      • Spreadsheet: Rashi makes inferences of a numerical nature that can be summarized in a traditional spreadsheet
      • Geometric: Rashi clarifies a Biblical text using descriptions of geometric diagrams
      • Fill-ins: Rashi supplies either real-world background material or indicates real-world inferences from a verse. The emphasis here is on the real-world, non-textual nature of the material.
      This example applies to Rashis Dt21-02b
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: The measurement is done FROM the dead body TO each of the nearby cities.

Dt21-01:02 discussing the ceremony when an unknown murder is found states If a corpse is found slain in the land which the Lord your God gives you to possess, lying in the field, and it is not known who has slain him; Then your elders and your judges shall come forth, and they shall measure to the cities which are around him who is slain;

Rashi makes the obvious comment that Measurement requires a to and from. The verse only gives the to part of the measurement. The from part of the request is from the corpse's body.

Advanced Rashi: Rambam gives more detail (Laws of Murder Chapter 9). If say the corpse is decapitated - the head and body are separated - then you measure from the nose. My opinion is that Rambam gave the details of the laws. By contrast, Rashi spoke more to the exegesis of the text. The verses mention corpse and therefore the missing to refers to the corpse with which the verses introduces. The reason Rashi did not go into further detail is because this further detail - nose of the corpse - cannot be derived from the verses being studied.

      BRIEF EXPLANATION: Rashi provides symbolic interpretations of words, verses, and chapters. Rashi can symbolically interpret either
      • (10a) entire Biblical chapters such as the gifts of the princes, Nu-07
      • (10b) individual items, verses and words
      The rules governing symbolism and symbolic interpretation are presented in detail on my website.

      This examples applies to Rashis Dt18-03d,e
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: Priestly gifts symbolically affirm Pinchas zealotry against immorality: a) Shoulder (exposure) b) Cheeks (liquid secretions) c) Womb/stomach (relations)

    Verse Dt18-03d,e describing the gifts given to the Priests by the Jews states And this shall be the priests' due from the people, from them that offer a sacrifice, whether it be ox or sheep, that they shall give unto the priest
  • the shoulder, and
  • the cheeks, and
  • the stomach.

Rashi symbolically interprets this gift as affirming the original act of zealotry by Pinchas which earned him eternal Priesthood. Recall that Pinchas speared a couple having relations openly in public and thereby assuaged God's anger at the promiscuity with the Moabite women.

    There is a psychological point here: Pinchas killed them because he saw the act as premeditated and malicious, not as an act of passion. The reason he saw the act as premeditated is because, as a priest, he was aware of how things develop. Zimri should have stopped the relationship as it developed. The gifts given to the priest symbolize the development of sin:
  • The shoulder [exposure]
  • the cheeks [liquid secretions]
  • the maw [relations]

Advanced Rashi: Rashi does not literally say what we have said. He corresponds cheek with mouth and prayer and corresponds hand with thrusting the sword. However we feel that Rashi was simply being discrete here. He did not want to explicitly speak about such things. He left it to the reader to infer it. Also Rashi wanted to explain that besides the description of the development of sin the priestly gifts also symbolized the act of zealotry which came about through prayer and using a sword.


This week's parshah contains examples of all methods. This concludes this weeks edition. Visit the RashiYomi website at for further details and examples.