Their presence in Rashis on Parshat VaYiGash Volume 11, Number 25
Rashi is Simple - Volume 34 Number 25
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 Gn45-27b discussing Jacob's reaction upon hearing that Joseph, whom he suspected dead for 22 years, was really alive, states And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said to them; and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, and the spirit of Jacob their father lived; Rashi notes that the underlined words, the spirit of Jacob their father lived references verses Gn46-02:04 discussing the prophetic vision that Jacob had immediately after hearing this good news. Hence the Rashi comment The phrase in Gn45-27b the spirit of Jacob their father lived refers to a renewal of an ability to receive prophetic visions as indicated immediately aftewards in verse Gn46-02:04
Advanced Rashi: This Rashi echoes the well known Biblical story of Elishah, 2Ki03-15 who couldn't prophesy in a state of anger until music assuaged him. In a similar manner Jacob could not prophesy while depressed about Joseph. The good news removed the depression and Jacob could prophesy again. Such Biblical lessons are not only important for prophecy but also important for our (non-prophetic) daily lives. Many activities - intellectual research, social relationships, marriages, etc. - deteriorate if we are in a state of depression and improve when that depression is removed.
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.
In our article Peshat and Derash: A New Intuitive and Logical Approach, which can be found on the world-wide-web at http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rashi.pdf we have advocated punchy translations of Biblical verses as a means of presenting Rashi comments. The following translation of verse Gn47-25c:26 embeds the Rashi translation Chok means an absolute law. And they said, You have saved our lives; let us find grace in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s servants [to pay an annual 20% tax under all circumstances] And Joseph made it an absolute / statutory law over the land of Egypt to this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth part; except the land of the priests only, which became not Pharaoh’s.
Advanced Rashi: The difference between an ordinary law and an absolute law is that ordinary laws can be situational. For example, if the 20% tax was an ordinary law then it could be waived under circumstances of poverty or expensive illness. By making the law absolute Joseph assured the monarchy a 20% cut of all profit in Egypt.
Many people erroneously interpret Chok to mean a law without reason. Rabbi Hirsch shows this is an incorrect approach. His best proof is the verse Pr30-08 Remove far from me falsehood and lies; do not give me poverty nor riches; hunt for me my absolutely needed food supply. Rav Hirsch points out The word Chok in this verse does not refer to an irrationally decreed food amount but rather to the person's minimal absolutely needed food amount. Chok in general refers to a law that addresses a deep seated need that does not change.
I have often explained Rav Hirsch by using an analogy of poison vs. salt. If you consume poison you die immediately. But if you consume excess salt you will not see deleterious effects for a long while. Thus the prohibition of salt is a statutory prohibition, whose reason is not apparent now but becomes apparent over a long period of time. Using this analogy I explain the Talmudic statement:A Chok is law that the non-Jewish nations make fun of us and ask "Why do you observe these laws?" The point of this Talmudic statement, cited by Rashi, is not that Chok is without reason but rather that its reason is not immediately apparent and only manifests itself over time. In fact this Talmudic dictum rather than questioning the rationality of the chukim is instead questioning the ability of non-Jewish mockers for long-term goals.
The bottom line is that Chok refers to an absolute law based on a reason that is not apparent and will manifest only after a long period. The Chok unlike other laws is less subject to exceptional circumstances.
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.
Verse Gn47-19b discussing the request by the Egyptian people to be given seed so that the agricultural land should not become desolate states Why shall we die before your eyes, both we and our land? buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants to Pharaoh; and give us seed, that we may live, and not die, that the land be not become desolate, Thaysham Rashi translates the Biblical word Tauv-Shim-Mem ThaySham as coming from the Biblical root Shin-Mem-Mem which means desolate. We have conveniently embedded the Rashi translation in the translation of the verse. The closet conjugation rule governing this Biblical word may be found by using table(s) 10 in the Ibn Shoshan dictionary for the Nifal mode (Hifil).
Very Advanced Rashi: Technically table 10 gives the conjugation ThisSham. The actual Biblical text uses ThaySham. To understand this discrepancy we have to use rare grammatical tables not presented in the Ibn Shoshan dictionary. The Cefulim - X-Y-Y - 1-2-2 form with a guttural letter (e.g. X-Cheth-Cheth) is conjugated ThaySham, a form we find in Is11-48, YayChal, Ec04-11, YayCham, Is06-51, TayChat. Neither Rashi nor the Midrash elaborates further. Why was a guttural-Cefulim conjugation used instead of a traditional Cefulim conjugation. To answer this we use the techniques of intended Biblical puns which are discussed in my article Puns located on the world wide web at http://www.Rashiyomi.com/puns.pdf. According to the rules of puns the guttural cefulim conjugation would hint at an alternate pun reading ...give us seed so that the land will not become a sight of terror Thatchat. The Egyptian people well knew that they were dealing with a monarchy who now possessed their land. Ordinary pleaing might not get their land back. Pleas to let the land not become desolate might also not work. After all Pharoh could till the land to obtain enough food for his servants but not for all the people. The people cleverly hinted through a pun at the description terror to remind Joseph of Pharoh's dreams whose interpretation enabled him to ascend the throne. The people in effect said Joseph remember Pharoh's dreams - you were trying to avoid 7 empty and emaciated years - remember how Pharoh stated I have never seen anything as bad as this in Egypt. If you don't give us seed to plow the lands then the lands will become a terrifying sight of total desolation and you will not have succeeded in preventing the dream of 7 bad years, the prevention of which enabled you to have your current job. Now therefore for your own sake as well as for our sake give us seed so we can plow the land.
The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Gn46-15a Both verses/verselets discuss the chidren of Jacob and Leah. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: Sons in the verse are related to the mother, a woman; Daughters in the verse are related to the father, a man. The explanation for this is whichever gender allows their partner to reach climax first during intimacy thereby merits that the resulting child is of that gender.
Advanced Rashi: This Rashi, which may appear homiletic, has actually been verified scientifically. To make a long story short the seed creating boys vs girls have different acidity requirements and acidity in the female is affected by the timing of climax. It is interesting that our sages new of this through the alignment method over 20 centuries ago. Notice how the Jews of the time could see the Rashi as homiletic without being aware that there is a scientific justification. In this email group we always advocate seeing Rashi as the simple intended meaning of the text.
The table below presents two contradictory verses. Both verses speak about the length of the famine The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says there were 5 more years of the 7 years of famine left while the other verse states the famine ended and in fact people were doing agriculture. We see the contradiction---which is it? Were there 2 or 7 famine years? Rashi simply resolves this using the broad literal method: The famine was suppose to last 7 years. But because of the merit of Jacob's family reuniting the famine terminated early after 2 years.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi literally says In Jacob's merit the famine stopped early when he came to Egypt. I however said In the merit of Jacob reuniting with his family the famine terminated early. I was not trying to contradict Rashi but rather to supplement his comments. The point here is that through Jacob's merit - for example, the merit that he mourned Joseph 22 years and stuck to his belief (till they reunited) that Joseph was going to become a leader in accordance with his dreams - the famine was stopped early.
There is another subtle point here. Joseph was a prophet and predicted the years of plenty and famine. But Jacob surpassed Joseph in prophetic insight and authority and therefore had the right to curtail the 7 years to 2 years since all bad prophecies may be ameliorated by repentance.
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 or narrative statement only applies to the enumerated details but not to other cases. Today's example illustrates this as shown below.
Advanced Rashi: Verse Gn47-27a concludes that and they got them possessions therein, and were fruitful, and multiplied exceedingly. Perhaps then the theme-development form is explaining the reason for the Jewish success: Precisely because they dwelt solely in Goshen and did not seek integration, for that reason, they multiplied greatly and were successful in acquiring assets.
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.
We ask the following database query: How is Benjamin relationally referred to? 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: Benjamin had 10 children. He was an adult. The brothers refer to him as the youngest and sometimes as our younger brother. However Judah refers to him as the kid. Judah was trying to belittle Benjamin so as to get Joseph to accept him, Judah, as a replacement and let Benjamin go back to his father. The list below presents the results of the database query.
This is typical of the database method.
Verse Gn47-21 discussing Joseph's decrees after the Egyptian people sold their land to Joseph in exchange for food and seed states And as for the people, he moved them to cities from one end of the borders of Egypt to the other end of it. Rashi explains the purpose of the underlined passages: There are two purposes: (1) By moving the people he emphasized (or reminded them) that they didn't own their own land; rather they had sold it to Pharoh because of the famine. (2) By moving the people from their homes the Egyptians, like the Jews, were living in new surroundings. This saved the Jews from shame since they were no longer the only people in new surroundings - all of Egypt lived like this.
The above Rashi is rather straightforward. However the meaning of the verse was clear enough before we read the Rashi. That is, Rashi does not clarify meaning or grammar or comparisons with other verses. Rather Rashi brings in non-verse facts - city planning methods - to clarify why the verse mentions the the moving of people from their cities. Since the Rashi comment focuses on explaining context by using non-verse facts instead of explaining meaning, grammar or referencing other verses we classify this Rashi as using the non-verse method.
This week's parshah does not contain examples of the symbolism Rashi method. Visit the RashiYomi website at http://www.Rashiyomi.com and http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule.htm for further details and examples.