The 10 RashiYomi Rules
Their presence in Rashis on Parshat Terumah
Volume 12, Number 8
Rashi is Simple - Volume 35 Number 8

Used in the weekly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
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(c) RashiYomi Incorporated, Dr. Hendel, President,
Feb 27th, 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 Ex26-25a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: The west side of the Temple has 6 boards and 2 corner boards (Ex26-22:23) ....And they shall be 8 boards (Ex26-25)

Verse Ex26-25 discussing the construction of the west side of the Temple states And they shall be eight boards, and their sockets of silver, sixteen sockets; two sockets under one board, and two sockets under another board. Rashi notes that the underlined words, eight boards references verses Ex26-22:23 discussing the construction of the west side of the Temple. Hence the Rashi comment There were 6 boards each 1.5 cubits in width. So they spanned 6 x 1.5 = 9 cubits. The two corner boards had .5 cubits exposed on each side and 1 cubit corresponding to the north and south walls as show in the diagram The total interior was 10 cubits spanned by 8 boards.

'               Corner  Board #1   #2    #3      #4      #5        #6     Corner#2
		------- -------- ------- ------- ------- -------- ------- -------
'               xxxx .5 1.5      1.5     1.5     1.5     1.5      1.5     .5 xxxx
'               xxxx                                                         xxxx South wall
'               xxxx	      10 cubits interior                             xxxx

Text of Target Verse Ex25-25 Text of Reference Verse Ex25-22:23
And they shall be eight boards, .... And for the sides of the tabernacle westward you shall make six boards. And two boards shall you make for the corners of the tabernacle in the two sides.
Rashi comments: There were 6 boards each 1.5 cubits in width. So they spanned 6 x 1.5 = 9 cubits. The two corner boards had .5 cubits exposed on each side and 1 cubit corresponding to the north and south walls as show in the diagram The total interior was 10 cubits spanned by 8 boards. [Pictures are given above]

      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 Ex25-07b
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: FILLER STONES are similar to the English SET STONES - stones that FILL in settings.

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 Mem-Lamed-Alpeh has a fundamental meaning of to fill. Hence this Biblical root can mean / refer to
  • to fill
  • a full field [ which appears filled vs empty ]
  • famous [ the honor of the famous person fills the world ]
  • cloth jewels, [ stones which you set and fill-in garment crevices ]

Applying the above translation to Ex25-07 discussing items used in building the temple we obtain Onyx stones, and stones to be set on the breast garment and the breastplate to fill in the garments In providing this English translation notice that we have used the English idiom set a stone which mirrors the Hebrew filling stones since we fill the setting with the stone.

      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 Ex26-36c
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: The curtains were the work of an embroiderer.

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 Ex26-36c discussing the construction of the temple curtain states And you shall make a curtain for the door of the tent, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, the craftmanship of an embroiderer. Rashi translates the Biblical word Resh-Vav-Kuph-Mem as coming from the Biblical root Resh-Kuph-Mem which means to embroider. 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) 1 in the Ibn Shoshan dictionary for the Kal mode

Advanced Rashi: The translation is obvious. Rashi explains his point. The verse should not be translated as embroidered craftmanship but rather as the craftmanship of an embroiderer. That is the present tense conjugation of a verb should not be translated as a verb but rather as a noun - it refers to the person who does the act, the embroiderer.

Rashi does not further explain this point. We leave in a mechanistic age: Embroidery is seen as an attribute of a cloth rather than as a creation by an embroiderer. We tend to think of the Temple as being simply ordered by God. But this is not so! In several places we find an emphasis that people properly interpreted and implemented the orders of God. In this Rashi also - the important point (after stating the materials of embroidery) is to emphasize that an expert embroiderer was needed to create the curtain. It was important, no matter how many prophetic orders were given, to also obtain the experience of expertise.

I think this emphasis on the person vs. the created object is especially important in our modern mechanistic age.

    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 Ex26-03a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: Each set of five curtains is united by sewing. The two five-curtain sets are united by clasps.

The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Ex26-03a Both verses/verselets discuss uniting the five curtains. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: Each set of five curtains is united by sewing. The two five-curtain sets are united by clasps. We infer the stronger form of unity - by sewing vs. by clasps - because of the alignment which emphasizes the word will be which in Biblical Hebrew always indicates permanance.

Verse Text of Verse Rashi comment
  • Five curtains will be united one to another
  • and five curtains united one to another
Each set of five curtains is united by sewing. The two five-curtain sets are united by clasps. We infer the stronger form of unity - by sewing vs. by clasps - because of the alignment which emphasizes the word will be which in Biblical Hebrew always indicates permanance.
  • Five curtains will be united one to another
  • and five curtains united one to another

    Advanced Rashi: I have made two contributions to the understanding of this Rashi.
  • First, I have contrasted the unity by sewing vs unity by clasps. This hilights the need for a textual emphasis that implies Sewing vs clasps.
  • Second, I have shown how the alignment emphasizes the word will be. A principle, (introduced by the Malbim), explains that the word will be always emphasizes some type of permanance. The idea of permanance would fit in nicely with sewing vs. clasps.

      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 Ex25-03a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: There were two Temple taxes - a voluntary tax and an obligatory tax.

The table below presents two contradictory verses / verselets. Both verses speak about national Temple taxes. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says taxes are voluntary while the other verse states taxes are obligatory. We see the contradiction---which is it? Are taxes voluntary or obligatory? Rashi simply resolves this contradiction using the 2 aspects method: Two Temple taxes are levied: One was half a dollar and obligatory; the other was completely voluntary.

Summary Verse / Source Text of verse / Source
Taxes are voluntary Ex26-02:03 Speak to the people of Israel, that they bring me an offering; from every man that gives it voluntarily with his heart you shall take my offering. And this is the offering which you shall take from them; gold, and silver, and bronze,
The half-dollar tax is obligatory Ex30-13:15 This they shall give, every one who passes among those who are counted, half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary; a shekel is twenty gerahs; a half shekel shall be the offering of the Lord. Every one who passes among those who are counted, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering to the Lord. The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering to the Lord, to make an atonement for your souls.
Resolution: 2 Aspects Two Temple taxes are levied: One was half a dollar and obligatory; the other was completely voluntary.

    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 Ex25-19b
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: GENERAL: Make a PAIR of Kerubim on both sides of the Ark-cover DETAIL: 1 Kerub per side = One pair on the 2 sides.

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.

    Verses Ex25-18:19 discussing the requirement to create Kerubim states
    • General: And you shall make 2 golden Kerubim.....
    • Detail: One Kerub on one side and one Kerub on the other side...
    The general clause states the requirement to make a pair of Kerubim on 2 sides of the cover and could mean one should make, on each side of the ark-cover one pair of Kerubim (so there would be a total of 4 Kerubim). The detail clause provides specificity to the general clause and describes how it should be interpreted: There should be one Kerub per side with a total of 2 Kerubim (one pair) on both sides.

      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 Ex27-08a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: The altar constructed from wood was hollow inside.

Verse Ex27-08a discussing the construction of the altar states Hollow-boarded shall you make it; as it was shown to you in the mount, so shall they make it Rashi explains The wooden boards forming the altar are used to make a skeleton with a hollow inside, not with a filled-in inside. Since this Rashi explains geometric diagrams we classify it a NonVerse Diagrammatic Rashi.

Advanced Rashi: Although Rashi does not go into it we feel that this hollow requirement has symbolic meaning. It means that the altar is only a container and not something filled in and complete. This corresponds to the idea that sacrifices are not an end but are symbolic of proper behavior. Using the construction symbolism we would say Each person's personal altar must be filled in with actions.

      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 Ex27-02b
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: The altar was overlaid with COPPER. COPPER pots (vs silver/gold) are used with FIRE. Coppers corresponds to BRAZENNESS. The altar addresses/atones BRAZENNESS.

    The three metals used in the temple were
    • Copper
    • Silver
    • Gold.
    They form a hierarchy - for example, Gold is the best metal while copper is the lowest metal. The copper altar corresponds to the ordinary people and atones for their sins. The Golden altar corresponds to the priestly people and addresses their needs.

The Bible does not give us much information on the symbolism of copper, silver, and gold. It is possible to give various symbolic associations: For example, copper vessels are used with fire while silver,gold vessels are more precious and not used with fire. We may therefore say that copper atones for fiery emotions. Rashi states that Copper atones for brazenness. Perhaps Rashi focuses on the Hebrew root of copper, Nun-Cheth-Shin which is also the root of the word snake, which possibly symbolizes brazenness or similar emotions.

I think it important to emphasize that the symbolic interpretation should be objective. Therefore we are not focusing on lingual coincidences. We are instead focusing on something common to all interpretations: Copper, silver, Gold form a hierarchy of metals. Using this basic idea we symbolically interpret: There are three stages of people: Ordinary, medium and spiritually advanced corresponding to copper, silver, and gold. Thus the copper altar atones for the ordinary people. Such an approach which doesn't emphasize particular traits of ordinary people - such as brazenness - seems the most acceptable; something that can be agreed to by all people. That is all people can agree that at least the Bible is talking about atonment for ordinary people. Then each person can add more detail such as acts of brazenness. The idea of ordinary could be accepted by everybody while the focus and specficitiy on particular emotions, like brazenness, would only be accepted by those people who believe them.


This week's parshah contains no examples of the Database and Formatting Rashi methods. Visit the RashiYomi website at and for further details and examples.