Their presence in Rashis on Parshat VaYayShev Volume 11, Number 23
Rashi is Simple - Volume 34 Number 23
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.
Verse(s) Gn38-25a discussing the death penalty decreed on Tamar for having committed pseudo-adultery states As she was brought out, she sent to her father-in-law, saying, By the man, whose these are, am I with child; and she said, Discern, I beg you, whose are these, the signet, and bracelets, and staff. Rashi clarifies the underlined words she was brought out, by referencing verse(s) Gn38-24 which states And it came to pass about three months after, that it was told Judah, saying, Tamar your daughter-in-law has played the harlot; and also, behold, she is with child by harlotry. And Judah said, Bring her out, and let her be burned. Hence the Rashi comment: The phrase in Gn38-25 as she was brought out means as she was brought out to be burnt.
Advanced Rashi: There is sarcastic irony here. After all as she was brought out could mean as she was brought out to trial! Rashi is being sarcastic - Judah didn't even think of giving her a trial. After all - she was obviously guilty and couldn't possibly have a defense. Thus Rashi hilights Judah's arrogance and lack of judicial process, a comment which clearly also echoes back to how he treated Joseph - Well murder is wrong, why don't we just sell him so he will die in slavery.
The literary techniques of synechdoche-metonomy, universal to all languages, states that items can be named by related items, by parts of those items, or by good examples of those items. For example honey refers to anything sweet since honey is a good example of something sweet. Similarly hot refers to matters of love since the two are related. Today's Rashi can best be understood by applying these principles.
The words brother and daughter refer to particular social relationships. However metonomy allows these words to refer to any social relationship, even those not based on family. The following verses, with the referents to brother and daughter enclosed in brackets illustrates this usage.
Advanced Rashi:Rashi on Gn31-46a actually says Brothers: This refers to his children who were brotherly with him in times of danger. However, I, above, translated brothers as meaning [his children, students and staff]. This is an important principle in Rashi - Rashi will often let the obvious comment on a verse be supplied by the reader and will supplement this obvious comment with a non-obvious comment. In this verse it is obvious that to make a heap of stones you call your staff and servants. However family members may not want to indulge in manual labor. Rashi's point is that even the family members helped out also since they wanted to show brotherly solidarity with Jacob in making a treaty. After all, Laban not only mistreated Jacob - he mistreated Jacob's children and their mothers. So yes, Rashi supplements the obvious metonomy - Jacob's servants helped him - with the non-obvious comment that even family members helped.
Similarly the word daughters in Gn35-27a should be understood to refer to both his actual daughters as well as his daughter-in-laws. There is nothing gained by understanding Rashi as interpreting the verse as exclusively referring to his daughter-in-laws; rather we interpret Rashi as indicated that the verse also refers to this daughter-in-laws.
We feel that the understanding of Rashi can be greatly enriched by using this supplemental-method approach to Rashis.
Rashi lived before the era of Grammatical textbooks. Hence one of his functions was to teach the rules of grammar similar to modern textbooks. One aspect of grammar deals with the proper use of prepositional connectives. A classical approach to prepositional connectives is to list the multiple meanings they can take. Todays example illustrates this.
The Hebrew prepositional connective Aleph-Tauv, Eth can have at least four meanings. These meanings are presented in the table below.
Advanced Rashi: Above, we have approached the meanings of eth with a list. But we can more deeply approach these meanings conceptually. Both Hebrew punctuation and Hebrew grammar regard the grammatical unit of the sentence as consisting of a verb, connoting an activity, with a sequence of complements. These complements can have any grammatical function: direct object, indirect object, adverbial clause,... The Hebrew word eth simply indicates some sentence complement whether it be a direct or indirect object.
In other words it is a mistake to think of eth as primarily indicating a direct object and secondarily indicating an indirect object. Rather eth can indicate any type of sentence complement.
This is similar to the rule for the Hebrew conjunction vav. Vav is erroneously translated as meaning and, and secondarily as meaning if, but, because etc. A more satisfying approach is to say that in Hebrew vav indicates any conjunctive function whether it be and, or, but, however, because, etc.
Seen from this perspective vav and eth are semantic markers that simply announce conjunctive or complement components. Their particular meaning in a specific context is inferred from context.
The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Gn40-13a Gn40-13b Both verses/verselets discuss the restoration of the Maitre-de of wine from prison. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: The Maitre-de of wine would have two things returned: a) He would be reinstated as Pharoh's staff (out of prison) and b) he would be reinstated to his former position of leadership - Maitre-de of wine.
Advanced Rashi: The nuances of Rashi's comment should be clear: Pharoh will not only pardon the maitre-de's prison sentence and restore him to his staff; Pharoh will also restore him to his former position (total forgiveness)
The table below presents two contradictory verses. Both verses speak about Joseph's relationship with his brothers The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says Joseph's brothers hated him, while the other verse states Joseph was eager to see his brothers. We see the contradiction--- Was there hatred or desire between Joseph and his brothers. Rashi simply resolves this using the 2 Stages / 2 Aspects method: Joseph's brothers hated Joseph because he slandered them(Gn37-04). But Joseph really wanted to rule over this brothers to help them (Gn37-08). Although Joseph's brothers hated him also because of his dreams and aspirations Joseph still was anxious to meet them in the hope of reaquiring their friendship.
Certain Biblical paragraphs are stated in a detail-Theme form. In other words a detailed specific passage is stated first followed by a thematic restatement of a broad general nature. Today's example illustrates this as shown below.
It is important to emphasize what Rashi is and is not doing. Rashi is not inferring from the verbal phrase behaving like a kid that Joseph excessively groomed, tattletailed and exaggerated normal sexual fears and wonders.
Rather, Rashi is inferring from the detail-general style - 17 years old - behaved like a kid that Joseph did typical behaviors of an immature 17 year old.
Having established this general fact Rashi then enumerates three primary typical immature behaviors: excessive grooming, tattletailing, exaggeration of sexual fears and wonders.
In other words the driving force for the Rashi comment is not meaning but the paragraph style which indicates a general statement of immature behavior. Rashi then used his knowledge of psychology to provide three broad areas of immaturity.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi goes further: Rashi points out that Joseph was punished for each of these immature acts. For example since Joseph was obsessed with grooming he eventually was approached by his master's wife which got him into trouble when he refused.
However Rashi's primary purpose on this verse was to present the fact of immaturity and sketch immaturity patterns. A secondary purpose of Rashi was to indicate God's method of justice. We will therefore discuss God's justice elsewhere.
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. 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.
In other words: Joseph, on Judah's advice, was sold by his brothers down to Egypt where he was successful. The brother's blaimed Judah for giving this advice and he was forced to separate from his brothers.
Grammatically Rashi characterizes this sequence of three paragraphs as a parenthetical interrupt. That is, paragraph #3 is a continuation of paragraph #1. Paragraph #2 interrupts the paragraph #1-#3 sequence. Paragraph #2 interrupts this sequence to emphasize that paragraph #1 indicates the cause of paragraph #2. In our situation this means that Judah's separation from his brothers was due to blaim for advice to sell Joseph.
With regard to the last example, Chronicles is giving a political history and hence someone like David is more important (politically) than say Abraham and Moses (Who were more important prophetically).
Verse Gn37-34a discussing Jacob's mourning of Joseph states And Jacob tore his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days. Rashi explains the underlined phrase mourned for his son many days as 22 years of mourning. The table below justifies this Rashi assertion. The table is presented in Spreadsheet format. In this particular Rashi the spreadsheet is the best method to understand Rashi. We in fact see at a glance from the table that Joseph was 17 when he was kidnapped and was reunited with his father at age 39, 22 years later.
We all know that the three baskets in the chief baker dream corresponded to three days to execution. In the table below we interpret other aspects of the baker's dream. For example the holed baskets symbolize an exposed body (after beheading). This aspect of the symbolic interpretation of the baker's dream is often overlooked!
We could summarize the table as follows: I saw [that in] three days my basket [body] is holed [exposed / vulnerable]. And even though the] topmost [goal] basket [of my being was providing ] all types of royal food, professional baker standards, to Pharoh, [nevertheless] the birds were eating them [my flesh] from the basket [my body] on [upon] my head [after my beheading].
Advanced Rashi: The above table uses the so called linear translation method. This method was introduced (or popularized) by Rabbi Dr. Benjamin Sharfman in his Linear Translation of the Bible and Rashi. Rabbi Sharfman's linear translation is still very popular among those who are beginners in learning Rashi. Rabbi Sharfman was in fact Rabbi of my synaggoue when I was young and I spent many enjoyable Shabbath afternoons listening to his very lucid explanations of Rashi.