Their presence in Rashis on Parshat SheMoTh Volume 12, Number 2
Rashi is Simple - Volume 35 Number 2
Used in the weekly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
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Jan 15th, 2009
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 Ex06-01c discussing God's promise to get Pharoh to let the Jewish people leave states And the Lord said to Moses, Now shall you see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he expel them out of his land. Rashi notes that the underlined words, expel references verses Ex12-33:34 discussing how the Jews left Egypt. Hence the Rashi comment God's promsie that Pharoh will expel the Jewish people from Egypt echoes the explicit statement in Ex12-33 that the Egyptians, fearing for their lives, expelled the Jews from Egypt and didn't even leave them time to bake bread.
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.
In my article Peshat and Derash found on the world wide web at http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rashi.pdf I advocate enriching the Rashi explanation using a technique of parallel nifty translations in modern English. Today's examples show this.
Applying the above translation to Ex05-09a discussing Pharoh's response to the request of the Jews to offer sacrifices to God we obtain Let more work be laid upon the men, that they may labor in it; so that their thoughts do not dwell on vain words
This Rashi is continued in rule #3, grammar.
This Rashi is continued from rule #2, meaning.
Most people know that the Biblical meaning of a word is determined by its underlying three-letter root. The Biblical root can be conjugated in different a) persons, b) tenses, c) pluralities, d) genders, e) constructions and f) modalities. For example I watched has a different conjugation then I will be watched even though both phrases will use the same 3 letter Hebrew root.
Additionally, a three letter root can take on new meaning based on the connective preposition used with it. For example the Hebrew root Shin-Ayin-Beth normally means dripping wax, dripping tears [of a pleaing person] drops of time - an hour, or dripping thoughts, the dwelling of thoughts on an item. How does one tell which meaning applies in a given verse? Rashi explains when this root is used with the Hebrew connective, Beth which means in, it refers to a dripping of thoughts on some matter. Hence the Rashi-suggested translation of verse Ex05-09a which states Let there more work be laid upon the men, that they may labor in it; so that their thoughts do not dwell on vain words
The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Ex03-14a Both verses/verselets discuss God's intended relation with the Jews. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: God initially identified himself as I will be I will be indicating God's promise of being with the Jews during all tragedies (and hence the repetition of the phrase connoting always). But then in His final statement God simply says I will be, once, emphasizing nearness to the Jews in their current crisis. It wasn't appropriate to mention other crises at this time.
The table below presents presents two contradictory verses. Both verses speak about who Moses will meet after his prophetic dialogue with God. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verselet says that after his prophetic dialogue with God ...Aaron will go out to greet Moses while the other verselet states Moses went to his father-in-law. Which is it? Did Moses meet Aaron or his father-in-law after his prophetic dialogue? Rashi simply resolves this using the broad-literal method: Immediately after the dialogue Moses went to ask permission from his father-in-law to go to Egypt. But upon going to Egypt, Aaron was the first person that Moses met.
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 who did not know Joseph refers to the details mentioned in the second sentence outsmart them lest they multiply and join our enemies in time of war and banish us. In other words the King certainly knew who Joseph was and what Joseph had done for the Egyptian people. But the King no longer trusted Joseph despite his former record. The King was suspicious of the Jews.
Advanced Rashi: The Hebrew Yud-Daleth-Ayin equally means know and appreciate. For example when Joseph's brothers were talking in Hebrew about the sale of Joseph the verse says they didn't appreciate that Joseph was listening Gn42-23. They obviously knew he was listening but they didn't think he understood; in other words, although they cognitively knew he was listening they didn't fully appreciate it. By translating the Hebrew word Yud-Daleth-Ayin as appreciate we emphasize that although Pharoh knew that Joseph during famine fought for the Egyptian people and cared about them he no longer appreciated this fact. Rather, he treated Joseph like a stranger, someone he didn't know. Joseph and the Jews might multiply and might join an enemy in time of war and banish the Egyptians. Hence Pharoh had to make the first strike and outsmart the Jews.
To recap: The statement Pharoh didn't know/appreciate Joseph could be interpreted on many levels. The general-detail structure restricts the interpretation to the detail phrase: He didn't appreciate his kindness and acted suspiciously to him.
On a very deep level this Rashi and verse portends to a very current theme - the relation between population growth and food growth. The classical argument is that if people and food continue to grow as is there will be wars because of lack of food resources. But Joseph refuted this. During the years of famine there was adequate food because they gathered food during the good years! So too - if the Jews were multiplying Joseph with his ingenuity could produce enough food for all. The argument of the religious people who continue to reproduce is that with faith we find the means to produce adequate food. Joseph had proven that faith works. But Pharoh acted in a conventional conservative manner and no longer appreciated Joseph's faith and his devotion and abilty to provide food and prevent famines.
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 transference / change of monarchy indicated. 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: (1) Ordinary transference of monarchy is indicated by current king died ...so and so reigned (2) Change in reign(e.g. a king is more established) is indicated by so and so monarched (3) A change by overthrow is indicated by so and so arose on. The list below presents the results of the database query.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi, based on the Talmud Sotah 11a, actually cites two opinions on the verse text A new king arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph. Rav and Samuel held opposite points of views: One held it was actually a new king (since it says new) while the other held that it was the same king with a new attitude (since it doesn't use the traditional language for routine transfers, so and so died...so and so reigned in his stead.)
Let us summarize: The verse speaks about an overthrow. We also blatantly see that Pharoh tried to contradict the great admiration the Egyptians had for the Jews. We even see that Pharoh's own family did not listen to him. So indeed Pharoh overthrew his own nation. Furthermore the word new can mean changed. Finally if it was an actual new king then the Bible would have used the traditional phraseology he died ...he arose. So the best way to translate the verse is And a changed king overthrew Egypt - that they shouldn't appreciate Joseph.
Biblical verse Ex03-01a discussing Moses' professional experience as a shepard states And Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he guided the flock towards the desert, and came to the mountain of God, to Horeb. Rashi explains the underlined phrase guided the flock towards the desert Typical shepards graze in fields near their home. Sheep however sometimes wander into nearby fields. Technically this is theft. Moses sheparded by the desert to avoid inadvertent theft.
The driving force of this Rashi is neither textual material, grammar, nor word meanings. Rather the driving force is supplementary information about professional standards of shepards. Since the Rashi comment derives from non-verse material we consequently classify this Rashi as non-verse.
Biblical verse Ex02-20b discussing Jethro's advice to his daughters who had been saved from rude shepards by Moses states And he said to his daughters, And where is he? Why is it that you have left the man? Call him, that he may eat bread. Rashi, commenting on the underlined phrase he may eat bread. states Maybe he will marry one of you. [The statement eat bread] resembles the verse Gn39-06 And he left all that he had in Joseph?s hand; and he knew not what he had, save for the bread which he ate. And Joseph was handsome and good looking. Notice how both verses - Gn39-06, Ex02-20b - refer to bread. Rashi interprets the word bread as referring to marriage! To defend this he references Gn39-06. Rashi on Gn39-06 states Bread refers to his wife - the Bible used a discrete language!
In the preceding paragraph we have presented the basic Biblical and Rashi texts. The verse simply said Jethro suggested to his daugthers to invite Moses for a meal. However Rashi interprets bread / meal as referring to marriage. Here Rashi uses symbolism. Bread has a soft texture like a woman. Freshly baked bread is warm like a woman. Bread has other attributes associated with intimacy: For example, lovemaking is metaphorically referred to as kneading.
I would suggest, as we have often done in this list, that Rashi was not providing an exclusive explanation of the verse but rather a supplementary explanation of the verse. In other words we would translate the verse as ...and he said to his daughters, But where is he? Why did you leave the guy? Invite him over for a dinner-date. Here by using the English idiom dinner-date we preserve both the primary meaning of the verse, invite him for a meal as well as the secondary meaning of the verse have a date - maybe he will marry one of you.
This use of simultaneous primary-secondary meanings in a Biblical text is particuarly useful in verses requiring a symbolic interpretation.
In passing we notice how this verse gives advice for abusive women. While there are many groups these days for abusive women I have not seen the Jethro incident cited. Quite simply since Jethro's daughters were abused by the shepards. As a typical reaction of abuse they didn't want to associate with any men. Their father, a Priest, acted as therapist. If someone treats you nicely you neend't fear abuse. Start discretely with a dinner-date and let things develop.