The 10 RashiYomi Rules
Their presence in Rashis on Parshat Lech LeChA
Volume 11, Number 17
Rashi is Simple - Volume 34 Number 17

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,
Nov 6th, 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 Gn15-14c
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w34n17.htm;
    Brief Summary: (Gn15-14c) Your children will be sojourners in a foreign land...and then will leave with great wealth (As stated in Ex12-36)

Verse(s) Gn15-13:14c discussing the great wealth that the Jews will amass after their sojournship in Egypt states And He said to Abram, Know for a certainty that your seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge; and afterward shall they come out with great wealth. Rashi clarifies the underlined words shall they come out with great wealth. by referencing verse(s) Ex12-36 which states And the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent them such things as they required. And they carried away the wealth of the Egyptians. Hence the Rashi comment: The promise of great wealth mentioned in Gn15-14c was fulfilled when the Jews left Egypt as stated in Ex12-36.

Text of Target verse Gn15-13:14c Text of Reference Verse Ex12-36
And He said to Abram, Know for a certainty that your seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge; and afterward shall they come out with great wealth. And the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent them such things as they required. And they carried away the wealth of the Egyptians.
Rashi comments: The promise of great wealth mentioned in Gn15-14c was fulfilled when the Jews left Egypt as stated in Ex12-36.

      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 Gn17-20a
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w34n17.htm
      Brief Summary: N-S-A = Lifted - Have a high - Marriage:Cloud:Prince:Prayer

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.

    The Hebrew root Nun-Sin-Aleph means to lift. From this fundamental meaning we derive a number of words with a fundamental idea of being high or receiving a high.
  • NaSih, cloud
  • NaSih, prince - high official
  • LiSaH, to marry (either to become high or obtain a new social height and position)
  • LiSaH, to pray (to lift one's heart upwards).

Advanced Rashi: Rashi literally says God blessed Ishmael with 12 princes. But princes are like high clouds that eventually evaporate. Besides the fact that this look quite disparaging it seems to contradict the simple meaning of the text which was a blessing not a curse!

Rabbi Hirsch explains the Rashi in a laudable manner: There is a cycle of water flow from seas to clouds and back to the sea. The cloud on high only receives water for the purpose of giving it back to the land and sea. So to the prince! The prince receives power on high but only to evaporate this power and return it to the people who gave it to him.

Note that the Hebrew idioms above are echoed in English. For example in English also we speak about lifting one's heart upwards.
      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 Gn12-16a
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w34n17.htm
      Brief Summary: The Egyptians-THEY saw her; Pharoh's staff-THEY saw her, THEY praised her; she was taken to Pharoh. And HE [Pharoh] treated Abram nicely.

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.

Changing agreement between subjects and verbs can often indicate supplemental meaning. Verses Gn12-14:16 discussing Abraham's arrival in Egypt with his beautiful wife Sarah illustrates this. The verse(s) state And it came to pass, that, when Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians, they saw the woman that she was very pretty. The princes of Pharaoh, they saw her, and they praised her to Pharaoh; and the woman was taken to Pharaohís palace. And he [Pharoh] treated Abram well for her sake; and he had sheep, and oxen, and male asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and female asses, and camels. Rashi, commenting on the changing plural-singular comments as indicated in the bracketed phrases, states that It was Pharoh himself who treated Abraham nicely. Perhaps there is a subtle hint here that the Egyptian people knew that attractive women were taken as wives and their male relatives treated nicely. The Egyptian people did not participate in treating Abraham nicely because they didn't like this custom. After all, if their wife was attractive they were next for such treatment. Rather the driving force of all this behavior came form the King himself.

    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 Gn15-09d
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w34n17.htm
    Brief Summary: In the whole Bible TURTLEDOVES are always paired with YOUNG PIGEONS. Hence we interpret, Gn15-09, TURTLEDOVE OR GOZAL as TURTLEDOVE OR PIGEON.

The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Gn15-09, Lv05-07, Lv05-11, Lv12-06, Lv12-08, Lv14-22, Lv15-14, Lv15-29, Nu06-10. Both verses/verselets discuss bird offerings. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: Birds may be offered from either Turtledoves or young Pigeons. The phrase Turtledove or Gozal means Turtledove or Young Pigeon.

Verse Text of Verse Rashi comment
Lv05-07 And if he is not able to bring a lamb, then he shall bring for his trespass, which he has committed, two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, to the Lord; one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering. Birds may be offered from either Turtledoves or young Pigeons. The phrase Turtledove or Gozal means Turtledove or Young Pigeon.
Gn15-09d And he said to him, Bring me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, and a Gozal

Advanced Rashi: We can alternatively use a database approach to this Rashi. There are half a dozen verses - Lv05-07, Lv05-11, Lv12-06, Lv12-08, Lv14-22, Lv15-14, Lv15-29, Nu06-10 - which use the phrase Turtledove or young pigeon. We infer that the one exception, Gn15-09d which uses the phrase Turtledove or Gozal really means Turtledove or young pigeon. In other words, the Gozal is the same as the young pigeon.

Even more fascinating is Rav Hirsch's appraoch to this Rashi. Rav Hirsch supplements the alignment and database method with the meaning method. Rav Hirsch explains The root of GoZaL is Gimel-Zayin-Lamed which means to steal. Perhaps a small young pigeon looks like a quickly snatched object that was stolen.

      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 Gn16-15a
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w34n17.htm
      Brief Summary: God ordered Hagar to call her son Ishmael. Abraham FOLLOWED Hagar's order and so named him.

The table below presents two contradictory verses / verse phrases. Both verses / verse phrases talk about the naming of Ishmael. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse / verse phrase says Hagar was told to name him Ishmael while the other verse / verse phrase says that Abraham named him Ishmael. Which is it? Did Hagar or Abraham name him? Rashi simply resolves this using the 2 Aspects method: Hagar received the order to name him Ishmael. Abraham was aware of the order and so named him.

Summary Verse / Source Text of verse / Source
Hagar ordered to name her son Ishmael Gn16-11 And the angel of the Lord said to her [Hagar], Behold, you are with child, and shall bear a son, and you shall call his name Ishmael; because the Lord has heard your affliction.
Abraham named him Ishmael Gn16-15a And Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram called his sonís name, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael
Resolution: 2 Aspects Hagar received the order to name him Ishmael. Abraham was aware of the order and so named him.

    Advanced Rashi: Several points can be made about this Rashi.
  • The simplest point is that Hagar returned and verbally told Abraham about the prophecy who then followed the order.
  • Rashi literally says: Abraham was prophetically aware of Hagar's order and therefore named his son Ishmael. Rashi in fact is dealing with another aspect of Ishmael: Abraham was ordered to banish Hagar. All of a sudden Hagar comes back. But that contradicts Abraham's order. So it stands to reason that Abraham was prophetically told of the order to Hagar and therefore accepted him back.
  • The above comments are superficial. A deep and profound approach to Rashi is the following: Was it just Hagar who had her prayers answered? Did not Abraham explicitly pray to God after Ishmael was born, If only Ishmael will live Gn17-18.? Was not Abraham upset, when Ishmael grew up and misbehaved, that Hagar had to be banished Gn21-10:13? Thus Hagar's return and the birth of Ishmael was an answer not only to Hagar's prayers but to Abraham's as well. Consequently the verse emphasizes that it was Abraham who named him Ishmael because he shared with Hagar in the prophecy of having God answer the prayers!

    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 Gn16-03b URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w34n17.htm
    Brief Summary: DETAIL: Abraham remarried after 10 years without children GENERAL: All men must remarry after 10 years if no children

Certain Biblical paragraphs are stated in a 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 Gn16-03b discussing Abraham's actions due to lack of children states Now Sarai Abramís wife bore him no children; and she had a maid servant, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abram, Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing; I beg you, go in to my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. And Sarai Abramís wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. The Rabbi Ishmael example rule requires generalization of this passage. In this case we simply generalize from Abram to all people: afer any person lives 10 years without children they should take another wife.

Advanced Rashi: Some participants on my list demur to my using the Rabbi Ishmael style rules on non-legal passages. But as the example above shows this is justified. Interestingly, it would consequently appear, that this 10-year rule is Biblical in authority and derived from this passage.

    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 Gn16-09a
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w34n17.htm
    Brief Summary: Three distinct messages were prophetically given to Hagar. 1) (Present) Return to Sarah despite unpleasantness, 2) (Future) God will hear prayers from harassment, 3) (Commemorative) Name child GodHears (Ishmael)

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 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(s) Gn16-09:11 discussing the prophetic revelation by the angel to Hagar who was fleeing from harassment by her mistress Sarah states
    • And the angel of the Lord said to her, Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hands.
    • And the angel of the Lord said to her, I will multiply your seed exceedingly, that it shall not be counted for multitude.
    • And the angel of the Lord said to her, Behold, you are with child, and shall bear a son, and shall call his name Ishmael; because the Lord has heard your affliction.
    The repeated underlined phrase And the angel of the Lord said to her creates a bullet effect. The bullet effect in turn creates an emphasis on the distinctness of all enumerated items. Rashi interprets the distinctness as follows
    • Present: Return to mistress Sarah despite her harassment
    • Future: God now and in future will always hear prayers from harassment
    • Commemorative: Commemorate this important occasion by naming your child, Ishmael which literally means GodWillHear.

      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 Ex03-01b
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/ex03-01b.htm
      Brief Summary: Items are frequently named in the Bible by how they will be called rather then what they are called now--e.g. the Kosher animals of Noach.

We ask the following database query: Are Biblical items named by future events which have not happened yet? The reader is encouraged to perform the query using a standard Biblical Konnkordance or search engine. This database query yields the list below. The list justifies the following Rashi inference: Items are frequently named in the Bible by how they will be called rather then what they are called now--e.g. the Kosher animals in Noah's ark. The list below presents the results of the database query and shows examples.

Verse Object Associated with future, not present Verse for Future association
Gn01-14e Moon function Future holidays Ex12-02
Gn07-02a Animals Kosher Lv11
Gn02-14c River boundaries Africa (Cush) Assyria Gn10-17:11
Gn14-07b field Amalayk field Gn36-12
Ex03-01b Mountain God's mountain Ex19-18

We should clarify the nature of the above list. The Bible, in Abraham's time, calls Amalyk's field after Amalyk who was not yet born. Similarly God's mountain (Mount Sinai) is named by the future reception of the Torah there.

    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 Gn15-17b
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w34n17.htm
    Brief Summary: The sun rises by GOING OUT and sets by COMING IN.

Certain groups of words may reflect one geometric model. Several examples are presented below.

    Example 1: Sun motion:
    • A rising sun is said to be a sun going out on the land
    • A setting sun is said to be a sun coming [back home]
    Notice that the English words used for these events rise, set reflect a similar geometric model. Also note that models of meaning need not correspond to actual physical facts - it suffices that they correspond to well known appearances.

    Example 2: The 4 compass points:
    • east is called before since the sun appears in the east before anything else. Even today, eastern companies are at the markets first.
    • South is called right since when you face the rising sun in the east the south is on your right. Notice that the assumption of the model is that you are facing the rising sun.

As the year progresses we will expand this list.

      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 Gn15-09a
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w33n4.htm
      Brief Summary: The inheritance of Israel is not assured by hard work (CALF) or social leadership (RAM) or following (GOAT) but by breaking ties with ones land (BIRD)

    The so called convenant of the cuts, Gn15-09:14 states as follows: And he said to him,
    • Bring me a three year old heifer, and
    • a three year old female goat, and
    • a three year old ram, and
    • a turtledove, and
    • a young pigeon.
    And he took to him all these,
    • and divided them in the midst, and laid each half against the other;
    • but the birds divided he not
    And when the eagle came down upon the carcasses, Abram drove them away. And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, a fear of great darkness fell upon him. And he said to Abram, Know for a certainty that
    • your seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs,
    • and shall serve them; and
    • they shall afflict them four hundred years;
    • And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge; and
    • afterward shall they come out with great wealth

    As explained in our article on symbolism cited above this passage is using symbolic criteria. I have explained the symbolism of the sacrificial items at a presentation at the 18th Midwest Jewish Studies Association conference. There are 6 categories of sacrificial objects and they correspond to the 6 basic personality types used in the most widely used vocational personality theory. The correspondence is roughly as follows:
    • Animal sheep/goats - social follower personality
    • Animal rams - social leader personality
    • Oxen/calves - worker, producer personality
    • plant offerings - flour, oil, frankincense - real world personality (interested in things vs. people)
    • incense offering - artistic personality (interested primarily in emotional expression and feelings rather than things)
    • birds - scientific and break-with-social convention personality
    Rav Hirsch cites numerous verses supporting the last association.Birds in the Bible are symbols of beings without a secure land to place their foot on; their strength lies in their ability to break with territorial ties. Hence intellectual type personalities are also assocaited with birds since the hard part of scientific discovery is not the discovery but breaking with established traditions - the ability to soar and leave.

The basic idea of the convenant of cuts is that the Jewish people will survive by virtue of the bird aspects of their personality, their ability to to come out of whatever land they have. While forming coalitions and networking is important (ram), while following ties is important (goat), while producing and being recognized (ox) is important and has helped the Jewish people - and even helped them in Egypt - the final freedom comes from the uncut bird the ability to soar and leave. Note also, and consistent with this interpretation that the downfall of the Jews in the wilderness was their continual request to return to Egypt. They rejected birdism and hence were severely punished.

While there are many things that can be said about the convenant of cuts, the Bible in its symbolism is focusing on the primary item needed for freedom and the exodus - the bird the ability to break ties and leave. Throughout the ages Jews have always survived by being able to break ties and leave.

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.