Their presence in Rashis on Parshat VaYeChi Volume 12, Number 1
Rashi is Simple - Volume 35 Number 1
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 Dt33-18 discussing Moses' blessing to Yissachar and Zebulum states And of Zebulun he said, Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out; and, Issachar, in your tents Rashi notes that the underlined words, Zebulun - out, Yissachar - in references verses Gn49-14:15 discussing Jacob's blessings to Yissachar and Zebulun Hence the Rashi comment Yissachar was blessed with agriculture ( strong donkey) and Zebulun with sea merchantry. Dt33-18 links the two together suggesting that Zebulun marketed Yissachar's agricultural products - that is they were in partnership as producer and transporter.
Advanced Rashi: This partnership is famous. It is erroneously used to justify people sitting and learning while others support them. But this is not what the text says. The text indicates that both were gainfully employed - Zebulun as a sea merchant and Yissachar as an agricultural person. They then entered partnership.
What is true is that people in agriculture have more spare time to learn. While at sea, by contrast, you have to continuously navigate and deal with winds, waves, etc. What the verses allow is the use of a partnership to create extra time for learning. In fact the Bible explicitly states that the Yissachar-tribe was known for its great wisdom (1C12-32). However the Torah in this particular passage does not sanction one person working and the other person doing nothing at all but learning. Rather, as I described, it is permissable for a person to give an investor money - the other person shares proceeds with the first person who then has additional time to learn.
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 Gn48-16c embeds the Rashi translation YIDGU means teeming. The Angel who redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them teem and overflow in the midst of the earth.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi explains the basic idea: Swarm, means to have many; teem, means to have many. What we have added to the understanding of Rashi is the citation of three Rashis together and the supplementation with nuanced synonyms from English. This approach enables us to naturally see the difference between swarm and teem. We have therefore brought in the Rashis on the Hebrew words PRU, SHIRTZU as well supplied the English synonyms fruitful, swarm, teem. This use of English captures the nuance of teem - welcome proliferation vs. swarm - unwelcome proliferation.
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 the construct form. Languages must have a way of indicating belonging. In English this is done through the word of. In Hebrew it is done through a terminal Hebrew Tauv.
Biblical Hebrew introduced the idea of an unspecified construct. The unspecified construct indicates a new concept. The list below gives some examples. Here is a simple example: The Hebrew Rayshith means head of. So the head of a nation would be indicated by the construct-head of - followed by the item it refers to - head of nation. When head of occurs by itself - a construct without the noun it modifies - it takes on a new meaning. It refers to the head of anything and hence means the choicest and best - that which is a head over everything. This basic idea of unspecified construct helps explain many of the examples in the list below.
We apply the above list to the translation of Gn49-22: Joseph is a branch fruitful in all locations; as fruitful as a branch by a well; whose shoots creep over the wall. Here the Patriarch Jacob praises Joseph for being fruitful - both socially and professionally - even in a non-Jewish environment. There is a subtle point here. Joseph was successful in Jewish matters- interpretation of dreams. Yet he remained successful even in a non-Jewish environment. And it wasn't just a matter of success but of extreme success as if he was flourishing among people who based their life on dreams and prophecy.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi simply says The suffix Tauv is an elegance of language. Rashi does not give the elaborate explanation we give above. Why then did I inject into Rashi what I did? Why do I act as if my ideas really originated from Rashi? The answer is that this is not the only Rashi on terminal Tauv. Other Rashi's on terminal Tauvs such as the Rashis on Gn01-01 or Dt22-11 - beginning-of means choicest; woman-of means married woman - show us a general pattern and attitude of Rashi toward terminal tauv. Therefore, we feel justified in extending this approach of Rashi, found explicitly in other verses, to the present verse where Rashi is not as detailed. We believe this approach to Rashi - extending techniques and methods, explicitly stated in other verses to new situations - is proper, deep, and authentic to what Rashi really believed and meant.
The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Gn49-27, Gn49-14 Both verses/verselets discuss relations of Jacob's children to animals. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: Other tribes are either compared to animals or blessed to be compared to animals. Benjamin however is told He will tear the wolf. Thus he himself is not a wolf but will destroy non-Jewish enemies who are like wolves.
The table below presents two contradictory verses. Both verses speak about the deathbed statement of Jacob to his sons The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says cursed be their anger.... while the other verse states he blessed them We see the contradiction---which is it? Did he bless them or curse them? Rashi simply resolves this using the 2 Aspects method: Jacob indeed blessed all his children. Although he cursed certain aspects of some of his children every child received a blessing.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi does not provide further details. However the curses of Shimon and Levi show cursed be their anger as well as I will apportion them in Israel. We may regard this last statement I will apportion them in Israel as a blessing (The Shimonites were involved in all aspects of Israel).
In other words the resolution is that certain children had only blessings while other children had some curses and some blessings. But each child has some blessing.
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. The style rule requires that we interpret the general theme with special focus on the attributes of the illustrative detail selected. Today's example illustrates this as shown below.
Rashi comments: The two sentences form one paragraph. That is the statement in the theme sentence and his sons did to him according as he commanded them refers to the details mentioned in the second sentence his sons carried himm to Canaan and buried him.
The Davka English translation facilitates this Rashi interpretation by inserting the underlined, subordinating conjunction, for which explicitly connects the two sentences. The use of such punchy textual interpolations hi-lighting Rashi translations was first advocated in my article Peshat and Derash.
An author who wishes to communicate several similar ideas will use a paragraph as a vehicle or container to collect these ideas. The paragraph is a formatting technique. By using a paragraph - for example by surrounding the paragraph with white space or by using indentation - the author thereby indicates that all items in the paragraph are related, reflecting a common theme.
We ask the following database query: How is death, as indicated by the Hebrew, Gavah, Gimel-Vav-Ayin 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: Every place the Bible uses the Hebrew GVA, Gimel-Vav-Ayin it also uses the word death except by Jacob where it uses GVA, Gimel-Vav-Ayin but not death. We conclude that Jacob never died. The list below presents the results of the database query.
Advanced Rashi: The above 6 verses are the only Biblical verses where the root GVA, Gimel-Vav-Ayin occur. This Biblical root roughly means expired. In all but one of the verses the phrase GVA, MT roughly he expired and died occurs except by the patriarch Jacob where it states GVA without MT. So the obvious linguistic conclusion is that Jacob did not die.
However, already the Talmud, Taanith 5b, asks If he didn't die then why did they embalm him and why did they mourn him. We can even ask further If GVA does not mean death what does it mean? Furthermore if Jacob didn't die where is he? Why have we not heard from him. The Talmud doesn't really answer completely these questions. It says They mourned and embalmed him because they thought he was dead. But if he wasn't dead why did they think him dead? We can also point out that although the Bible doesn't say that Jacob died, he himself says I am about to die and uses the Hebrew MEM TAUV (Gn48-21).
I have elaborated on this to show that Rashi does not always answer questions. Rashi's job was to preserve the Masoretic text. If there was a linguistic anomaly he cited an appropriate Midrash to preserve the text. Frequently the linguistic anomaly nicely corresponds to a punchy philosophic point. But sometimes, as in this case, we can only ask the question: It appears from the linguistic anomaly that Jacob did not die. This is a question with many unanswered ramifications. Rashi does not supply an answer to them. Nor do other books supply answers.
So the proper attitude is that Rashi used linguistic tools to uncover intended nuances of the Biblical Authors. Rashi uncovered these nuances even if they didn't fully make sense. His job was complete when he pointed us to a source and showed what it implied. Those sources he didn't explain should be the subject of study of future generations.
Verse Gn48-17a discussing Joseph's removal of his father's hand from his son's head states And when Joseph saw that his father was laying his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him, and he supported his father's hand, to remove it from Ephraim's head unto Manasseh's head.
Since this Rashi carries a geometric or diagramatic clarification we have classified it as non-verse.
It is well known that Jacob blessed his children by comparing them to animals. The interpretation of these blessings are symbolic: each animal attribute is considered a personality attribute.