Their presence in Rashis on Parshat VaYayLeCh Volume 11, Number 13
Rashi is Simple - Volume 34 Number 13
Used in the weekly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
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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.
The next few issues of Weekly Rashi will take place as usual except for the weeks of the Succoth holidays.
Verse(s) Dt31-21 discussing the exhortative warnings of Moses before his death states And it shall come to pass, when many evils and troubles have befallen them, that this poem shall testify against them as a witness; for it shall not be forgotten in the mouths of their seed; for I know their inclination and what they do, even now, before I have brought them into the land which I swore. Rashi clarifies the underlined words this poem by referencing chapter Dt32 presenting the poem of exhortative warning of punishment for the deviation from God's commandments. Hence the Rashi comment: The phrase this poem in Dt31-21 refers to the special exhortative poem of warning presented in Dt32.
Advanced Rashi: Superficially, Rashi is commenting on the proximity of texts - Dt31-21 and Dt32. But on a deeper level, as shown below in Rule #7, Formatting, Rashi is commenting on the format of Dt32. Indeed, only two chapters in the entire Bible are written in a brick-layer format indicating a poetic nature. Dt32 is not only near Dt31-21 and exhortative, it is actually written in poetic format.
An idiom is a collection of words which means more than the sum of the meanings of each of the phrases' individual words. Verse Dt31-17a discussing the horrible punishment if the Jews deviate from God's law states Then My anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them , and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall come upon them; so that they will say in that day: Are not these evils come upon us because our G-d is not among us? Rashi explains: The phrase hide my face is an idiom meaning devouring and destruction As can be seen from the underlined words the Rashi comment is compactly and explicitly combined in the Biblical text.
Advanced Rashi: Although the Rashi translation is explicitly given by the Biblical text we can further support Rashi's comment with the following compact analogy: God sees:salvation::God hides:destruction. Such use of multiple supports are very often available and enrich our understanding of Rashi.
Most people are aware that Hebrew verbs come from three-letter roots. Each root is conjugated in the 8 dimensions of person, gender,plurality, tense, activity, modality, direct-object, and prepositional connective. For example the root Shin Mem Resh means to watch. The conjugations Shin-Mem-Resh-Tauv-Yud and Nun-Shin-Mem-Resh-Nun-Vav mean I watched and we were watched respectively.
The rules for Hebrew grammar are carefully described in many modern books and are well known. Rashi will sometimes comment when a verse is using a rare conjugation of an odd grammatical form.
When presenting grammatical Rashis my favorite reference is the appendix in volume 5 of the Ibn Shoshan dictionary. This very short appendix lists most conjugations.
We should emphasize that the great 19th century commentator, Malbim, introduced the powerful grammatical observation that the same root can change meaning solely based on the prepositional connectives used with it. From time to time we present intriguing examples illustrating this rule.
Similarly, Biblical Hebrew allows roots to radically change meaning based on the mode of the conjugation. For example the active, passive, interactive, or causative modes may endow the words with intrinsically different meanings..
Advanced Rashi: The advanced student should note that these three basic meanings of Nun Kaph Resh, recognize, foreign, disguise are very diverse. The language is able to unify these diverse meanings by using different grammatical modes, each mode powerfully altering the basic meaning of recognition. Hence we have that the participle form means foreign or permanently recognizable while the interactive form means disguise that is, a recognition based on an interaction with another person's preconceived notions.
The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Dt31-12a Both verses/verselets discuss the categories of people who come to the national assemblage every 7 years. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: The Torah mentions 5 categories of people who come - people, men, women, infants, strangers - but only 4 categories of activities - hearing, learning, fear, and observance. We naturally pair - men/learning, women/hearing, people/observance, stranger/fear. It is then natural to see the infants coming as enabling reward to those who bring them (Since the infants are too young to do any activity)
Advanced Rashi: There is a certain charm to this Rashi alignment. On the one hand Rashi's assertion that we bring infants to receive reward for bringing them appears fanciful exegetical and homiletic without textual support. On the other hand the blatant contrast - 5 categories of people vs. 4 categories of activity - does seem to implicitly suggest a fill in for the reason for bringing the infants. Thus this Rashi charmingly illustrates a subtle but beautiful tension between the intended meaning of the text as indicated by the format and exegesis.
The table below presents two contradictory verses. Both verses talk about assembling the Jewish nation The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says the priests assemble the nation through trumpet blasts while the other verse says the levites should assemble the nation. Which is it? Did the priests or Levites assemble the nation? Rashi simply resolves this using the 2 aspects method: When assembly happened through trumpet blasts the priests were the assemblers. However on the special occasion of Moses' farewell speech prior to his death the Levites assembled the nation's elders since no trumpets were used to assemble the nation. The reason no trumpets were used was because the trumpets reflected Moses' leadership over the Jewish people and on the day of his death, especially after transfer of leadership to Joshua, Moses symbolically affirmed that he was no longer their leader. Consequently Moses did not assemble the entire nation but rather just the leaders to deliver his fairwell speech - to assemble the leaders (vs. the nation) did not require trumpets or priests.
In other words we see Rashi's point there is no leadership on the day of death as the consequence of the contradiction-resolution of nation vs elders and priests vs Levites. For this reason we have supplemented Rashi's literal explanation with textual contradictions which Rashi was resolving and supporting. We see the contradictions as the driving force behind Rashi, and see the citations about death as supportive and supplementary (not primary). Rashi further supports this supportive theme - there is no dominion on the day of death - with an explicit citation from Ec08-08.
Certain Biblical paragraphs are stated in a Theme-Development form. In other words a broad general idea is stated first followed by the development of this broad general theme in specific details. The Theme-Detail form creates a unified paragraph and consequently the law only applies to the enumerated details but not to other cases. Today's example illustrates this as shown below.
As is our usual custom in this email list we have embedded the Rashi comments in the text by interpolating key connective words. We further clarify this compact summary as follows: The statement I am 120 ...I can't lead you is a general comment which could have many reasons - for example, poor health, other commitments, or a prohibition of leading. This general clause is further delimited and clarified by the detail clause which explicitly states that the reason why Moses can't lead has nothing to do with health or other commitments but rather because God explicitly prohibited him from leading. For this reason we have classified this Rashi comment as illustrative of the Rabbi Ishmael style rules since a general clause is delimited with a detailed explanation.
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.
Other Biblical formatting effects are also used. For example the Biblical Author used dotting of letters to indicate strikeout.
It is common in all cultures to use special formatting to indicate a poetic format. The Bible in fact uses a special brick-layered format to indicate poetry in two Biblical chapters.
Verse Dt31-21 discussing the punishments that would befall the Jewish people if they deserted God states And it shall come to pass, when many evils and troubles have befallen them, that this poem shall testify against them as a witness; for it shall not be forgotten in the mouths of their seed; for I know their inclination and what they do, even now, before I have brought them into the land which I swore. Rashi explains the underlined phrase this poem as referring to the great exhortative poem of warning presented in Dt32 which is written in a special brick-layered poetic format. This special brick layered format strengthen's Rashi's association of the underlined words, this poem with Dt32.
Nevertheless Rashi will make a comment indicating a consequence or implication of the verse. We say that such Rashis use the spreadsheet method. We call the method, spreadsheet since very often spreadsheets are use to compute and infer consequences.
Verse Dt31-21b states And it shall come to pass, when many evils and troubles have befallen them, that this poem [Dt32] shall testify against them as a witness; for it [The poem] shall not be forgotten in the mouths of their seed; .... Rashi comments: Since the one chapter poem, Dt32, is not forgotten, it follows that the Torah itself which contains this poem, will also not be totally forgotten.
We see here that Rashi's comment informs us of a consequence and hence we classify this Rashi as an example of the spreadsheet method.
This week's parshah does not contain examples of the database, and symbolism methods. This concludes this weeks edition. Visit the RashiYomi website at http://www.Rashiyomi.com for further details and examples.