Their presence in Rashis on Parshat MishPaTim Volume 12, Number 7
Rashi is Simple - Volume 35 Number 7
Used in the weekly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
Visit the RashiYomi website: http://www.Rashiyomi.com/
(c) RashiYomi Incorporated, Dr. Hendel, President,
Feb 19th, 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 Ex21-12:13 discussing refuge cities for the negligent murderer states He who strikes a man, so that he dies, shall be surely put to death. But if a man not ambush, but G-d cause it to come to hand; then I will appoint thee a place whither he may flee. Rashi notes that the underlined words, I will appoint thee a place whither he may flee references verses Nu35-06:07 discussing the refuge cities that existed in Israel and the Wilderness. Hence the Rashi comment The 6 refuge cities for negligent murderes were only set aside when the Jews came to Israel (Nu35-10:11). However both in Israel and in the wilderness the negligent murderer could also flee to the cities allocated to the Levites, since the Levite cities were also refuge cities for the negligent murderer (Nu35-06:07). Hence the statement that God set a place of refuge for the negligent murderer Ex21-13e refers, during their wilderness stay, to the Levite cities, but not to the 6 refuge cities which only existed in Israel.
With this background we translate Ex23-08 as follows: And you shall take no bribe; for the bribe blinds the wise, and burdens the words of the righteous. Here we have translated the Biblical root Samech-Lamed-Pay as meaning burden. We derive this meaning from the underlying two-letter root, Samech-Lamed which means moving up a hill or inclined surface. The list below shows that a terminal pay indicates application of metonomy, meaning related to the meaning of the other two letters. It follows that Samech-Lamed-Pay is something with the same feel (metonomy) as an incline or hill. Hence we have translated Samech-Lamed-Pay as meaning burden. The idea seems to be that if a judge takes bribes he will not outright distort justice but will make it burdensome to achieve (in the hope of helping the briber). The Bible prohibited bribes because the resulting burdensome atmosphere is poisonous to the legal system.
This list illustrates the idea that a terminal pay indicates a meaning reasonably related to the meaning of the other two letters.
The bulk of traditional Biblical Hebrew grammar deals with the conjugation of verbs and nouns. However Biblical Hebrew grammar also deals with other issues such as a) pronoun reference, b) gender/ plurality agreement, c) adjectives /adverbs / determiners, d) compound nouns/ verbs/ sentences, e) possessives, and f) use of connective words.
Today Rashi deals with the connective Biblical word, Vav. In Biblical Hebrew Vav can be translated as meaning any logical connective such as and, or, but, if, then,...
Advanced Rashi: This Rashi is a particularly good example of the alignment method. Notice in the four verses the difference in the underlined passages: kills, dies, strikes, blemish... Also notice the difference in the punishment clauses: put to death, so shall be done to him, put to death, put to death. A common improper formulation of Talmudic exegesis is The Talmudic Rabbis focused on the exact meaning and nuance of each word, particularly extra words. We have not used this rule. We believe the proper approach is that The Talmudic Rabbis focused on blatant differences in aligned similar verses. These blatant differences in otherwise similar verses indicate intended differences in legal consequence. Such a view is more palatable and leads to a more reasonable understanding of Talmudic exegesis.
The table below presents two contradictory verses / verselets. Both verses speak about female slaves. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says the woman goes out after 6 years while the other verse states the woman belongs to her master We see the contradiction---which is it? Do women remain slaves or do they go free at six? Rashi simply resolves this contradiction using the 2 aspects method: Jewish female slaves go free at 6 years; however, non-Jewish female slaves remain with their master.
Advanced Rashi: The literal language of Rashi shows more clearly the underlying logic: When the verse says If his master give him a wife it could refer to either a non-Jewish or Jewish woman. Since however the verse continues He goes free but the woman remains with the master and another verse explicitly states that ....Jewish female slaves...go free in the seventh year I therefore conclude that the verse must be speaking about a non-Jewish wife that the master gives him. In other words Rashi does not emphasize contradiction but rather describes the derivation as selection between competing alternatives. This alternative viewpoint helps us understand the contradiction Rashi rule.
Certain Biblical paragraphs are stated in a example form. In other words an example of a law is stated rather than the full general rule. The reader's task is to generalize the example. The idea that all Biblical laws should be perceived as examples (unless otherwise indicated) is explicitly stated by Rashi (Pesachim 6.). This is a rule of style since the rule requires that a text be perceived as an example rather than interpreted literally. The Rabbi Ishmael style rules govern the interpretation of style.
Verse Ex22-21a discussing the prohibition and punishment of abusing widows and orphans states don't abuse a widow or orphan If you dare abuse him..... and I will also blow up, kill you by sword, and make your wives widows and your children orphans. The Rabbi Ishmael example rule requires generalization of this passage. In this case we simply generalize from widow or orphan to any person don't abuse a person If you dare abuse him..... and I will also blow up, kill you by sword, and make your wives widows and your children orphans.
Advanced Rashi: This verse is an interesting refutation of the idea that the Bible must be interpreted by being picky on each word. If that were so one could argue God only punishes a country with terrorism that leaves widows and orphans when the people abuse widows and orphans because that is all the verse says. But there is no such punishment when you abuse a non-widow or non-orphan. The Rabbi Ishmael style rules in general and the generalization approach to Biblical interpretation in particular, state otherwise. Rashi explains The Bible only mentioned the abuse of orphans and widows since such abuse is common since widows and orphans are typically helpless. However, the law and punishment applies to any person. In other words abuse of people when tolerated by a society is punished by a terrorism which leaves widows and children.
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.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi asks a crushing question on the above interpretation: But if removing a cover from a pit causes liability then digging a pit certainly causes liability. We can reformulate this crushing Rashi comment as follows: The word opening a pit could equally refer to removing the cover of a covered pit or to digging/creating a pit. Both removing a cover and digging a pit are examples of opening a pit.
The remedy Rashi gives to this problem derives its driving force from the bullet structure. Bullets indicate distinction and unspecified emphasis. That is the verse by using a bullet structure is indicating that there are two ways to incur liability on pit damage. We aren't told explicitly what those two ways are but we do know that they are described as opening and digging a pit. As just seen, in the last paragraph, the obvious approach -that opening and digging refer to removing covers vs. digging - does not work out since opening could equally refer to removing a cover or digging.
We again emphasize that the driving force behind the Rashi derivation is not some vague Talmudic pilpul but rather the bulleted structure indicated by the repeating keyword, when. This bulleted structure requires an interpretation of and indicates an unspecified emphasis and distinctness in each bulleted item.
We all know that Shavuoth happens on the 6th of Sivan and that the Torah was either received on Shavuoth itself or on the 7th of Sivan. (Rav Hirsch explains that if the Torah was received on Shavuoth then Shavuoth celebrates the receipt of the Torah. However if the Torah was received on the 7th of Sivan then Shavuoth celebrates our preparation and being ready for receipt of the Torah - that is, the preparation to receive the Torah would be considered the primary thing to celebrate).
The Table below presents the verses that support the calculation that the Torah was received on the 6th or 7th of Sivan.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi points out that Ex24, the sacrifices prior to the receipt of the Torah happened on the 5th of Sivan while the Decalogue itself is stated in a prior chapter Ex20. Rashi concludes that Textual Biblical sequence does not necessarily indicate temporal sequence. It is important to supplement this Rashi comment with the grammatical observation that in Biblical Hebrew, the past, as indicated by a future conjugation preceded by a vav, indicates the simple past, while the past, as indicated by the past conjugation, indicates the past perfect (Which in English is indicated with the participle had.) Hence Ex24-01, stated in a chapter that occurs after the chapter with the description of the revealed law, states, And God had told Moses to come up for revelation... The use of the past perfect, had told gives grammatical support to the temporal precedence of Ex24 to the revelation mentioned in Ex20, Ex21, Ex22, Ex23. This simple but convincing grammatical proof for the dictum Textual Biblical sequence does not indicate temporal sequence seems to be an innovation of mine not mentioned by other Biblical commentators.
This week's parshah contains no examples of of the database and symbolism all Rashi methods. Visit the RashiYomi website at http://www.Rashiyomi.com and http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule.htm for further details and examples.