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