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

Used in the weekly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
Visit the RashiYomi website: http://www.Rashiyomi.com/
(c) RashiYomi Incorporated, Dr. Hendel, President,
Sep 11th, 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.

    1. RASHI METHOD: REFERENCES
    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 Dt23-07a
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w34n10.htm;
    Brief Summary: Fleeing slaves should dwell with Jews (Dt23-17) But Jews should NOT seek peace of Moabites and dwell with them (Dt23-07)

Verse(s) Dt23-04:07a discussing the prohibitions on social interactions with the Amonites and Moabites states An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the Lord forever; ... You shall not seek their peace nor their prosperity all your days for ever. Rashi clarifies the underlined words not seek their peace nor their prosperity by referencing verse(s) Dt23-17 discussing the requirement to allow fleeing slaves to dwell among Jews which states He shall live with you, among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of your gates, where it pleases him best; you shall not oppress him Hence the Rashi comment: Since fleeing slaves must be allowed to live with us Dt23-17 I would reasonably generalize and argue that all non-Jews have the right to dwell among us. Therefore, we interpret the prohibition of seeking the peace and prosperity of Amonites and Moabites as prohibiting them from living with us.

Text of Target verse Dt23-04:07a Text of Reference Verse Dt23-17
An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the Lord forever; ... You shall not seek their peace nor their prosperity all your days for ever. He shall live with you, among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of your gates, where it pleases him best; you shall not oppress him your neighbor; I am the Lord.
Rashi comments: Since fleeing slaves must be allowed to live with us Dt23-17 I would reasonably generalize and argue that all non-Jews have the right to dwell among us. Therefore, we interpret the prohibition of seeking the peace and prosperity of Amonites and Moabites as prohibiting them from living with us.

      2. RASHI METHOD: WORD MEANING
      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 Dt25-18b
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w34n10.htm
      Brief Summary: For a country to TAIL another country means for it to perform terrorist actions;snip at tail end of nation

Todays Rashi rule could be classified as either the grammar or meaning method.

    Although most conjugation rules refer to the conjugation of verbs, there are also conjugation rules for transfroming nouns into verbs. We list several common methods for transforming nouns into verbs:
  • create the noun: e.g. to flower
  • remove the noun: e.g. to dust; cf. Nu04-13a, to ash the altar.
  • use the noun: e.g. to hammer
  • the verb(activity) done to this noun: e.g. Dt21-04b: neck the calf, in other words kill it with a blow to the neck

We can apply the above Rashi rule to verse Nu25-18b which states How he [Amalayk] met you by the way, and tailed you, all who were feeble behind you, when you were faint and weary; and he did not fear God. Here we have followed our practice in this email list of embedding the Rashi comment in the translation of the verse. The Rashi comment focues on transforming the noun tail into the verb to tail which means to perform terrorist like actions, to snip at the tail end of the people.

      3. RASHI METHOD: GRAMMAR
      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 Dt25-06a
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w34n10.htm
      Brief Summary: When brothers dwell together ...one of them dies...her [the Mother's] eldest will marry his widowed sister in law.

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.

Verses Dt25-05:06 illustrate this principle. They are translated as follows: If brothers live together, and one of them dies, and has no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry outside to a stranger; her husbandís brother shall go in to her, and take her to him for a wife, and perform the duty of a husbandís brother to her. And the firstborn which she [Rashi: The mother of the two brothers ] bears shall succeed to the name of his brother who is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel. Here Rashi translates the pronoun she as referring to the most logical referent, the mother of the two brothers just discussed.

A comparison of English and Hebrew is interesting. In English, pronouns are only used when they refer to a clear antecedent. But the last female antecedent is the wife of the deceased's brother. Thus the Biblical verse above would not be allowed. But in Hebrew, pronouns are allowed if their referrent is logical even though it is distant. Here it is logical that the verse is referring to the mother of the brothers and hence the Rashi comment is consistent with Hebrew usage.

    4. RASHI METHOD: ALIGNMENT
    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 Dt25-15a
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w33n9.htm
    Brief Summary: There is a PROHIBITION against possessing/using false weights. There is an OBLIGATION to use proper weights. There is a BLESSING for use of proper weights.

The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Dt25-15, Lv19-36. Both verses/verselets discuss the prohibition of keeping false weights. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: There is a prohibition against possessing/using false weights. There is an obligation to use proper weights. There is a blessing for use of proper weights.

Verse Text of Verse Rashi comment
Dt25-15a
    • A perfect and just weight you [singular you] shall have,
    • a perfect and just measure shall you [singular you] shall have;
  • that your days may be lengthened in the land which the Lord your God gives you.
There is a prohibition against possessing/using false weights. There is an obligation to use proper weights. There is a blessing for use of proper weights.
Lv19-36
    • Just balances,
    • just weights,
    • a just dry weights, and
    • a just liquid weights,
    shall you [plural you] have;
  • I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt.

Advanced Rashi: This is a peach of a Rashi. Rashi appears to derive something in a far fetched manner. A proper analysis however shows Rashi to be logical.

Rashi literally says The verse perfect and just weights you shall have means that if you have perfect and just weights then you shall have many assets. Rashi appears to be punning and breaking up the perfectly simple sentence perfect and just weights you shall have and making it if-then.

    Notice the three differences between the aligned verses:
    • One verse is singular, the other plural
    • One says you shall have on each type of measurement while the other lists all the measurements and says you shall have
    • One verse mentions the reward of having long days; the other verse apparently does not.
    We therefore suggest the following explanation of Rashi
    • The Dt25-15a verse discusses prohibition and requirement. In fact, the verse is addressed to each individual, as indicated by the singular. Furthermore, the verse makes a separate requirement for each type of measurement - you shall have perfect weights and you shall have perfect measures. This is reasonable - since the requirement is separate for each one.
    • By contrast Lv19-36 discusses blessing. In fact the verse is addressed to the nation. The verse should be interpreted as meaning If you abstain from false weights then you will be blessed with so many assets that you will need many just weights, measures, and liquid measures.

    Summary:
    • Requirement:
      • A perfect and just weight each of you are [required] to have;
      • a perfect and just measure each of you are [required] to have;
    • Blessing: [If you avoid false weights then you will be so blessed that you will need] Just balances, just weights, a just dry weights, and a just liquid weights, shall you [plural you] have ;
    The force driving Rashi to interpret two almost similar verses as requirement vs. blessing is the alignment which uses two different styles, one more suitable for requirement and one more suitable for blessing.

      5. RASHI METHOD: CONTRADICTION
      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 Dt25-18f
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w34n10.htm
      Brief Summary: Amalayk pursued you, attacked you; YOU were weary and THEY lacked fear of God

    The table below presents two contradictory verses. Both verses talk about emotional states. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says you did not fear God while the other verse says you did fear God. Which is it? Did the Jews fear God or not. Rashi simply resolves this using the 2 aspects method: The Jews, when attacked by Amalayk, were weary. The Jews did fear God. Amalayk did not fear God.

Summary Verse / Source Text of verse / Source
The Jews Feared God Ex14-31 And Israel saw the great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians; and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and his servant Moses.
You [Jews] were weary. They [Amalayk] did not fear God. Dt25-18f How he [Amalayk] met you by the way, and [Amalayk] struck at your rear, all who were feeble behind you, when you [the Jews] were faint and weary; and he [Amalayk] did not fear God. .
Resolution: 2 Aspects The Jews, when attacked by Amalayk, were weary. The Jews did fear God. Amalayk did not fear God.

    Advanced Rashi: An alternative or supplemental approach to this Rashi comment is to use the simple Grammar method.
    • The verse says you were weary
    • The verse continues and he did not fear God.
    This corresponds to the two aspects method mentioned above. There are two aspects to the verse: One clause is speaking about you, the Jews, while the other clause is speaking about him, Amalayk.

    6. RASHI METHOD: STYLE
    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 Dt22-16a URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w34n10.htm
    Brief Summary: And the father of the young woman will state to the elders. RASHI: This teaches that social etiquette lets the man speak first.

Certain Biblical paragraphs are stated in 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 Dt22-16a discussing the defense of the newlywed accused of adultery states And the girlís father shall say to the elders, I gave my daughter to this man to wife, and he hates her; Rashi (literally) comments This teaches that there is no permission for a woman to speak when a man is present.

    Advanced Rashi: This Rashi uses the generalization method: The verse says the girl's father speaks and from this we infer that in general a woman should not speak in the presence of a man. To properly understand this Rashi we review other examples where the the generalization method is used.
  • Ex21-35 speaks about payments when an ox gores; the law generalizes this to the case of damage by any animal. However the verse speaks about ox because this is the typical animal owned by people that causes damage.
  • Dt22-25 speaks about the punishment for a rape of a woman in a field. The law generalizes this to any case of a rape (whether in a field or not). However the verse speaks about field rape because less people are there and rape is more common. Thus the Bible teaches us proper social etiquette - woman should avoid being alone in fields.

We can summarize the above by noting that the Bible spoke about typical cases without passing judgement. Most damage is caused by oxen but you are entitled to own any animal so long as you are responsible for damage. Similarly rape is more likely in a field but you are punished for rape anyplace. And similarly while rapes typically happen in a field - and you are ill-advised of being there - a woman does have the right to be in fields alone!

Applying this principle - the Bible speaks about typical cases without passing judgement - from Dt22-16a we simply infer that when a man and woman are present, typically, the man does the speaking, not the woman. But there is no requirement for the woman to abstain from speaking. Again: This conclusion from the verse is parallel to other conclusions - such as payment of damages for oxen or punishment for rape.

While Rashi literally says This teaches that there is no permission for a woman to speak when a man is present, we, in light of what we just explained, would interpret this to mean, This teaches that there is typically no social permission for a woman to speak when a man is present. In other words, the Bible is only talking about typical cases and social etiquette but not laying down a law.

    7. RASHI METHOD: FORMATTING
    BRIEF EXPLANATION:Inferences from Biblical formatting: --bold,italics, and paragraph structure.
    • 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 Dt21-13c
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w34n10.htm
    Brief Summary: The 4 procedures done by the captive woman - shaving head, removing beautiful clothing, homebound, crying - encourage separation.

Both the Biblical and modern author use the paragraph as a vehicle for indicating commonality of theme. Hence if two ideas are in a paragraph they may be assumed to have a similar context, (unless explicitly stated otherwise, for example, if the two ideas are indicated as contrastive.) The reader will no doubt recognize this formatting rule as none other than the most intuitive of the Rabbi Ishmael style rules which orthodox Jews recite every day as part of their daily prayer: the rule of inference from context. Today's example illustrates this.

    Verses Dt21-10:14 discussing the treatment of a captive woman of war states When you go forth to war against your enemies, and the Lord your God has delivered them into your hands, and you have taken them captive, And see among the captives a beautiful woman, and desire her, that you would have her as your wife; Then you shall bring her home to your house;
    • and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails [Rashi: To look disgusting];
    • And she shall take off the garment of her captivity, [Rashi: Because captive garments are typically attractive] and
    • shall remain in your house, [Rashi: Homebound and always there]
    • and mourn her father and her mother a full month; [a complainer]
    and after that you shall go in to her, and be her husband, and she shall be your wife. And it shall be, if you have no delight in her, then you shall let her go where she will; but you shall not sell her at all for money, you shall not treat her as a slave, because you have humbled her.

The Rashi comments are embedded into the translation of the verses. Rashi sees the 4 bulleted clauses, as the development of the underlined paragraph theme, you shall let her go. In other words The Torah tried to pursuade you from marrying her. It accomplished this persuasion by de-beautifying her. Rashi arrived at this exegesis by emphasizing the underlying unity of the Biblical paragraph whose theme sentence is you shall let her go.

      8. RASHI METHOD: DATABASES
      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 Dt22-07a
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w34n10.htm
      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.

    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:
    • 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 examples applies to Rashis Dt21-17a
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w34n10.htm
    Brief Summary: The eldest inherits DOUBLE - he inherits his own portion and a special portion made for the eldest.

When Rashi explains a complicated algebraic computation we say that Rashi is using the spreadsheet method. Spreadsheet Rashis have a more complicated flavor than other Rashis because of their algebraic technical nature.

Verse Dt21-17a lays down the requirements for promogeniture: But he shall acknowledge the firstborn son of ...., by giving him a double portion of all that he has; ... Rashi explains: For example if a person's estate has $1,000,000 and he has 3 children then we do as follows: We create a fictitious son so that the person now has 4 children, the 3 actual ones and the fictitious one. Each son inherits one fourth of the estate $250,000. The eldest son inherits both his share of $250,000 and the $250,000 of the fictitious son. Consequently the first born inherits $500,000 while the other 2 actual children inherit $250,000 each. It follows that the aggregate share of the firstborn, $500,000, is twice the $250,000 inherited by each non firstborn.

I have augmented Rashi's explanation with the examples used by the Rambam in Chapter 2 of Inheritances. The reader may wonder why the Rambam made obscure so simple a law. Why not simply let the variable x denote the unknown amount inherited by the non first born son. We see that each real son inherits x while the firstborn inherits 2x. Thus the firstborn inherits twice the amount of each non firstborn. Furthermore the sum of all the inheritances must exhaust the estate giving rise to the equation x + x + 2x = $1,000,000 which easily solves for x = $250,000 and 2x = $500,000.

The above algebraic approach is simpler for the general case. However Rambam gives a complicated example of a 3 child family where one of the non first born sons had an unnatural birth and is not counted for the share of the firstborn son, but does inherit. The interested reader can look up the Rambam's example in his great code.

We also brought the two approaches to illustrate how spreadsheet Rashis can be approached in a variety of manners.

Conclusion

This week's parshah does not contain examples of the symbolism method. This concludes this weeks edition. Visit the RashiYomi website at http://www.Rashiyomi.com for further details and examples.