The 10 RashiYomi Rules
Their presence in Rashis on Parshat Noach
Volume 11, Number 16
Rashi is Simple - Volume 34 Number 16

Used in the weekly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
Visit the RashiYomi website: http://www.Rashiyomi.com/
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Oct 30th, 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.

FULL HOUSE THIS WEEK, ALL RASHI RULES ILLUSTRATED

    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 Gn10-12a
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w34n16.htm;
    Brief Summary: RESEN between NINVEH and KALACH - she is the big city. RASHI: NINVEH is the big city (Jonah 03:03)

Verse(s) Gn10-12a discussing Ninveh states And Resen between Nineveh and Calah; she is a great city. Rashi clarifies the underlined words she is a great city. by referencing verse(s) Yn03-03 which states And Jonah arose, and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. And Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three daysí journey in extent. Hence the Rashi comment: It is Ninveh (not Resen) which is the great city.

Text of Target verse Gn10-12a Text of Reference Verse Yn03-03
And Resen between Nineveh and Calah; she is a great city. And Jonah arose, and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. And Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three daysí journey in extent.
Rashi comments: It is Ninveh (not Resen) which is the great city.

Advanced Rashi: We can also regard this Rashi as grammatical. In Hebrew, unlike English, pronouns, refer to the most logical antecedent not necessarily to the last antecedent. Hence in the cited verse she is a big city refers to Ninveh which is known as a big city.

      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 Gn06-17b
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w34n16.htm
      Brief Summary: GESHEM:REVAVAH:MABUL::Rain:Torrent:Flood

When Rashi uses the synonym method he does not explain the meaning of a word but rather the distinction between two similar words both of whose meanings we already know.

    There are 3 Biblical words for rain:
  • Gimel-Shin-Mem Geshem: Rain
  • Resh-Beth-Beth ReVaVaH: Torrent
  • Mem-Beth-Vav-Lamed Mabul: Flood

    Rashi gives two possible roots for the word Mabul which as we just showed means flood.
  • Beth-Lamed-Lamed: This root means to mix. So a Flood would be an event that mixes up items.
  • Yud-Beth-Lamed: This root means to bring. So a flood is an event that brings items down the river to the bottom.

In either case a MaBuL, flood is named as a natural disaster, something that mixes up items and uproots them and brings them elsewhere.

      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 Gn09-23a
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w34n16.htm
      Brief Summary: A singular predicate with a plural subject indicates that the first named subject instigated the activity; the others tagged along.

Rashi lived before the era of Grammatical textbooks. Hence one of his functions was to teach the rules of grammatical conjugation similar to modern textbooks.

A fundamental principle in all languages is agreement. Subjects and verbs must agree in gender and plurality.

Sometimes langauge achieve special effects by violating subject-verb agreement. For example, using a feminine gender with a masculine subject could hint at helplessness. Today we use the rule that a plural subject using a single verb indicates that the first mentioned subject instigated the action and the others followed along.

Verse Gn09-23a discussing how two of Noach's children covered his nakedness while drunk states And Shem and Japheth [he] took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness. Rashi commenting on the plural subject and single verb states: Shem was the more religious one and instigated the action of covering up their naked father. Yefet was interested in beauty and didn't particularly care if Noach was naked but followed along when Shem asked him to help out.

    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 Gn10-21c
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w34n16.htm
    Brief Summary: After Cham degraded his father, Shem and Yefeth hung out with each other but not with Cham.

The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Gn10-21c, Gn10-02, Gn10-06 Both verses/verselets discuss the genealogies of Noah's children: The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: After Cham degraded his father, Shem and Yefeth hung out with each other and avoided Cham.

Verse Text of Verse Rashi comment
Gn02-10:02,06 The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras.....And the sons of Ham: Kush, and Egypt, and Put, and Canaan. After Cham degraded his father, Shem and Yefeth hung out with each other and avoided Cham.
Gn10-21 To Shem also, were born children, he was the father of all the Eberites, he was the brother of the older brother Japheth

Advanced Rashi: The Rashi comment is focused on the fact that, as the underlined phrase shows, Shem is called Yefet's brother (but not Cham's brother). Rashi bases his interpretation of this omission - that Shem and Cham hung out together but not with Cham - by referencing the degradation of Noach presented in Gn09-20:29.

      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 Gn10-14a
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w34n16.htm
      Brief Summary: How can the patriarchal ancestor of Philistines be both Pasrusim and Casluchim? Because they exchanged wives!

The table below presents two contradictory verses / verse phrases. Both verses / verse phrases talk about the patriarchal ancestor of the Philistines. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse / verse phrase says Pasrusim is the ancestor while the other verse / verse phrase says the contemporary Casluchim is the ancestor. Which is it? Is the true patriarchal ancestor Pasrusim or Casluchim? Rashi simply resolves this using the Broad-literal method: Pasrusim and Casluchim played wife exchanges. Hence (out of doubt) Philistines are said to descend from both!

Summary Verse / Source Text of verse / Source
Pelishtim descended from Pasrusim Gn02-14 And Pathrusim, and Casluhim, (from whom the Philistines descend,) and Caphtorim.
Pelishtim descended from Casluchim Gn02-14 And Pathrusim, and Casluhim, (from whom the Philistines descend,) and Caphtorim. 235231
Resolution: Broad-Literal Pasrusim and Casluchim played wife exchanges. Hence (out of doubt) Philistines are said to descend from both!

Advanced Rashi: What do we call this Rashi resolution the broad-literal method. Because a person can only have one paternal ancestor. However in cases of doubt we broadly call both possible parents the proper ancestor. Hence, here, since the two ancestors exchanged wives, we use a broad interpretation to indicate that both were ancestors.

    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 Gn07-22b URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w34n16.htm
    Brief Summary: GENERAL: All upright on land erased. DETAIL: Man, animal, insects, birds, GENERAL: Were Erased from land. RASHI: Fish were not destroyed.

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 Gn07-23b discussing the destruction to be caused by the 40 day flood states
  • General: And every upright thing was destroyed which was upon the face of the land
  • Detail:
    • both man, and
    • cattle, and
    • the creeping things, and
    • the bird of the heaven
  • General:they were wiped out from the earth;

Rashi generalizes the detail clause man, cattle, creeping things, birds as illustrative of the general clause, land, earth and states: Fish did not die. We believe this comment evident and consistent with the Rabbi Ishmael style guidelines. We note in passing that the word upright thing in the first general clause could imply land-based plant life which was also destroyed.

    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 example applies to Rashis Gn07-09b
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w34n16.htm
    Brief Summary: TWO TWO from all animals. RASHI: AT LEAST 2 from all animals.

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 Gn07-09b discussing the number of animals coming to Noah's ark states There went in two two to Noah into the ark, the male and female, as God had commanded Noah. The repeated underlined word phrase two two indicates an unspecified emphasis. Rashi translates this unspecified emphasis as at least two. That is Rashi translates the verse as follows: There went in at least two to Noah into the ark, the male and female, as God had commanded Noah. In other words At least two came from every species. Certain species however may have had more than two.

      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 Gn07-04c
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w34n16.htm
      Brief Summary: FOURTY symbolizes an embryonic period during which development to new horizons can take place.

Today we ask the database query: What does the number 40 symbolize? The query uncovers 5 examples. An examination of these examples justifies the Rashi assertion that 40 symbolizes an EMBRYONIC period during which development to new horizons can take place. The table below presents results of the query along with illustrations of Rashi's comment.

Verse Event Embryonic to which new Horizon
Gn07-04 Flood for 40 days Reshaping of world order
Ex34-28 Receipt of Ten Commandments (40 days) Change from Slave mentality to Free mentality
Nu14-33 40 year Trip from Egypt to Israel Change from slave generation to new free generation
Jonah03-04 Threatened destruction of Ninveh Reshaping of lifestyle of Ninveh (Repentance)
Ez29-12 Destruction of Egypt Reshaping of world order

Advanced Rashi: Rashi literally says: 40 days of flood corresponding to the 40 days in which the foetus is formed. They sinned by burdening God to create foetii to adulterous unions and were punished with 40 days of flood. My opinion is that the major driving force behind the Rashi is the database query which shows that in general 40 corresponds to an embryonic development to a new horizon. I therefore regard Rashi as adding another nuance to the 40 days applicable to this particular case, the flood. Rashi points out that the embryo takes 40 days to develop. Rashi further shows the Divine Justice in the irony that the 40 days during which embryos from adulterous unions were being produced corresponded to the 40 days of punishment. We however regard this Rashi comment as secondary and the above database analysis as primary. Very frequently Rashi will rely on the teacher to present primary meaning and will suffice with indicating an unexpected seconday nuance. I beleive this is the proper way to take this Rashi.

    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 Gn11-03c, Gn11-03d, Gn11-03e
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w34n16.htm
    Brief Summary: Babel was a valley. Construction took place using bricks vs. stones, fire for caldrons, and slime for mortar

Rashi will sometimes comment on a verse by giving us background from real world production processes. We call such Rashi comments, NonVerse. They are similar to exegetical comments presented by archaeologists.

    In the following verse Gn11-03, the Rashi comments, embedded in the translation of the text, provide background needed to understand the text. And they said one to another: 'Come,
  • let us make brick [Rashi: Because Babel was in a valley without stones], and
  • burn them thoroughly [Rashi: To perform caldron building needs] And
  • they had brick for stone, and
  • slime had they for mortar [Rashi: To plaster and cement the bricks together. As indicated above the Rashi comments provide background needed to understand the text. Note that the brick-stone correspondence is explicitly mentioned in the verse. Rashi therefore was simply filling in the background for the other two mentioned verse items - fire-slime. My personal opinion is that Rashi's sermonic point is that the Babylonians went out of their way to construct in an environment that wasn't conducive to construction. This emphasized how evil they were. It was not a sin of passion but of premeditation.

      10. RASHI METHOD: SYMBOLISM
      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, Nu07
      • (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 Gn07-04c
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w33n4.htm
      Brief Summary: FOURTY symbolizes an EMBRYONIC period during which development to new horizons can take place.

Today we ask the database query: What does the number 40 symbolize? The query uncovers 5 examples. An examination of these examples justifies the Rashi assertion that 40 symbolizes an EMBRYONIC period during which development to new horizons can take place. The table below presents results of the query along with illustrations of Rashi's comment.

Verse Event Embryonic to which new Horizon
Gn07-04 Flood for 40 days Reshaping of world order
Ex34-28 Receipt of Ten Commandments (40 days) Change from Slave mentality to Free mentality
Nu14-33 40 year Trip from Egypt to Israel Change from slave generation to new free generation
Jonah03-04 Threatened destruction of Ninveh Reshaping of lifestyle of Ninveh (Repentance)
Ez29-12 Destruction of Egypt Reshaping of world order

Advanced Rashi: Rashi literally says: 40 days of flood corresponding to the 40 days in which the foetus is formed. They sinned by burdening God to create foetii to adulterous unions and were punished with 40 days of flood. My opinion is that the major driving force behind the Rashi is the database query which shows that in general 40 corresponds to an embryonic development to a new horizon. I therefore regard Rashi as adding another nuance to the 40 days applicable to this particular case, the flood. Rashi points out that the embryo takes 40 days to develop. Rashi further shows the Divine Justice in the irony that the 40 days during which embryos from adulterous unions were being produced corresponded to the 40 days of punishment. We however regard this Rashi comment as secondary and the above database analysis as primary. Very frequently Rashi will rely on the teacher to present primary meaning and will suffice with indicating an unexpected seconday nuance. I beleive this is the proper way to take this Rashi.

Conclusion

This week's parshah contains examples of all Rashi methods. This concludes this weeks edition. Visit the RashiYomi website at http://www.Rashiyomi.com for further details and examples.