The 10 RashiYomi Rules
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.
Visit the RashiYomi website:
(c) RashiYomi Incorporated, Dr. Hendel, President,
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.


    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 Ex06-01c
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: By force Pharoh will not only let the Jews go but will actually expel them without them having time to prepare bread (Ex12-33)

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.

Text of Target Verse Ex06-01c Text of Reference Verse Ex12-33:34
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. And the Egyptians urged the people, that they might expel them out of the land in haste; for they said, We shall all be dead men. And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading troughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders.
Rashi comments: 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.

      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 Ex05-09a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: Overload them with work so that their thoughts don't DWELL on false leads.

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 I advocate enriching the Rashi explanation using a technique of parallel nifty translations in modern English. Today's examples show this.

    The Heberw Biblical root Shin-Ayin-Hey has a fundamental meaning of dripping wax. Hence this Biblical root can mean
  • dripping wax,
  • dripping tears of a pleaing person [ the tears flowing down a pleaing person's cheeks looks like dripping wax ]
  • drops of time - an hour [ just as the Hebrew Resh-Gimel-Ayin refers to making the ocean into droplets and also refers to seconds, droplets of time, so too Shin-Ayin-Hey refers to both wax droplets and hours - droplets of time ]
  • drops of thoughts, dwelling of thoughts [ it is hard to capture this in English - some alternatives are speculate,depend, turn to,... This meaning refers to a continuous drip of thoughts or to hourly continuously think about something ]
  • salvation, [ the Piel form of pleaing indicates the negation of pleaing that is, saving the pleaing person ]

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

    Advanced Rashi: Rashi literally translates this verse as they should not turn to vain words. But turn is used here, not in the sense of physical turning, but rather in the sense of a turning of thoughts. I have therefore suggested the more nuanced translation of dwelling of thoughts. Some sample verses may enable the reader to appreciate this translation alternative - dwell on vs. turn to - as well as the challenge in finding an adequate English translation.
  • P119-117 and I will dwell on your statutes continuously
  • Gn04-04:05 God's thoughts dwelled on Hebel's sacrifice; but He did not dwell on Kayin's sacrifice; this caused Kayin to be very angry.
  • Jb14-06 God, dwell your thoughts away from him [Job] so that he may pass away.

This Rashi is continued in rule #3, 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 Ex05-09a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: Overload the people with work so that they don't dwell on vein thoughts.

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

    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 Ex03-14a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: God first said I WILL BE (with them) I WILL BE (With them (always)) He then said I WILL BE (with them) in the CURRENT crisis.

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.

Verse Text of Verse Rashi comment
    And God said to Moses,
  • I am that I am, I am that I am and he said, Thus shall you say to the people of Israel,
  • I am has sent me to you.
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.
    And God said to Moses,
  • I am that I am, I am that I am and he said, Thus shall you say to the people of Israel,
  • I am has sent me to you.

      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 example applies to Rashis Ex04-14c
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: God promised Moses that Aaron would come out to greet him when he returned to Egypt. But Moses first his father-in-law's permission.

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.

Summary Verse / Source Text of verse / Source
During the prohpetic dialogue God told Moses that Aaron would meet him. Ex04-14c And the anger of HaShem was kindled against Moses, and He said: 'Is there not Aaron thy brother the Levite? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he(Aaron) cometh forth to meet thee; and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart.
But Moses meets with his father-in-law after the prophetic dialogue. Ex04-18 And Moses went and returned to Jethro his father-in-law, and said to him, Let me go, I beseech you, and return to my brothers who are in Egypt, and see whether they are still alive. And Jethro said to Moses, Go in peace.
Resolution: Broad-Literal Immediately after the prophetic dialogue Moses met Jethro. However upon his return to Egypt Aaron was the first to meet him.

    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 Ex01-08b
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: GENERAL: The new king didn't appreciate Joseph DETAIL: Namely, he forgot his accomplishments and devotion and acted like he was a stranger.

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.

    BIblical verses Ex01-08:10 form a Biblical paragraph with a theme-detail structure:
  • Theme: And there arose up a new king over Egypt, who did not appreciate Joseph
  • Detail: And he said to his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we; Come, let us outsmart them lest they multiply and join our enemies in time of war and banish us.

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.

    BRIEF EXPLANATION:Inferences from Biblical formatting:
    • 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 Ex05-22a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: Moses complained to God: a) Why did you hurt the Jews (by promising them freedom but they obtained more subjugation) b) why did you send me.

We have explained in our article Biblical Formatting located on the world wide web at, 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) Ex05-22a discussing Moses to complaint to God who sent him to redeem the Jewish people but instead the Jews received more work 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,
    • for with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land.
    The repeated underlined phrase for with 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
    • Complaint on behalf of Jewish people: God sent Moses to redeem the Jewish people and now they end up with more work
    • Complaint on behfl of Moses himself: Why did God send Moses if the result was more work?

      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 Ex01-08a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: And a CHANGED king OVERTHREW Egypt that they shouldn't appreciate Joseph.

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 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.

Verse Type of transition Hebrew words used
Gn36-33 Routine Belah died, Yovav reigned in his place
1K22-40 Routine Achav slept with his ancestors ....Achazyahu reigned in his stead
2C13-23 Routine Aviyah slept with his ancestors ...Asa his son reigned in his stead
2S08-14:15 Change during reign (Reign was now secure) God saved David wherever he went....David reigned ...
2C21-04 Overthrow Yehoram arose over his father's kingdom, he took hold, and killed his father's entire house hold

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 and so reigned in his stead.)

    We are defending the viewpoint that the king was the same. We offer three arguments and counter arguments:
  • As we have shown above died...reigned is not the only phraseology used. Rather
    • For routine transfers the Bible uses the phraseology so and so and so reigned instead
    • For changes in current reign, such as the change to a more secure reign in the time of David, the Bible uses the singleton ...David reigned.
    We therefore conclude that the lack of died ...reign does prove that it was a change in current reign
  • Furthermore the verse does not use the word reign at all, whether with died or without. Rather the verse uses the word arose which as we saw in the above table indicates an overthrow.
    • We have established that there was an overthrow. But an overthrow of what?
    • Look carefully at the succeeding chapter. Pharoh decreed death on Jewish males but his own daughter pitied the babies and saved them.
    • Similarly when Jacob died all of Egypt mourned him 70 days and showed him great honor.
    • I conclude that Joseph and the Jews were highly respected. Joseph did not take advantage of the situation but rather gave people back their land. The Jews did not want to take over Egypt. But Pharoh as leader felt they might. So Pharoh overthrew his own people! He tried to remove the Jew's good name. And even so his own daughter refused to listen to him.
  • Furthermore new in the Bible does not necessarily mean actually new. For example in Ez36-26 it states I will give you a new heart and new emotions in your midst.... Here the word new refers to change. God says I will give you a changed heart and changed emotions...

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.

      9. RASHI METHOD: NonVerse
      BRIEF EXPLANATION: The common denominator of the 3 submethods of the NonVerse 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 Ex03-01a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: Moses sheparded his sheep towards the desert - RASHI: To avoid problems of theft of pasture

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.

      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, Nu-07
      • (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 Ex02-20b
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: This guy treated you nicely. Invite him for a meal/date.

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.

    Let us summarize:
    • The verse seems to say that Jethro suggested his daugthers invite Moses for a meal
    • But Rashi says that Jethro was suggesting that they propose to him marriage for one of them
    This creates a problem. Why did Rashi deviate from the simple meaning of the text which causes, in this case, no problems, and use a symbolic interpretation that is not warranted?

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.


This week's parshah contains examples of all Rashi methods. Visit the RashiYomi website at and for further details and examples.