The 10 RashiYomi Rules
Their presence in Rashis on Parshat TeZaVeH
Volume 12, Number 9
Rashi is Simple - Volume 35 Number 9

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,
Mar 5th, 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.

FULL HOUSE THIS WEEK, ALL RASHI RULES ILLUSTRATED

    1. RASHI METHOD: REFERENCES
    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 Ex29-43c
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1209.htm
    Brief Summary: God will be formal with His Honor (Ex29-43c) is exemplified by the death of Aaron's sons for drunken sacrifice offering(Lv10-01:03).

Verse Lv10-01:03 discussing the death of Aaron's sons for drunken sacrifice offerings states And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took each of them his censer, and put fire in it, and put incense on it, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. Then Moses said to Aaron, This [death] corresponds to what God said: I will be sanctified in them that are near to me, and before all the people I will be honored. And Aaron held his peace. Rashi notes that the underlined words, sanctified, near, people, honored references verses Ex29-43c discussing the honor and holiness of God in the Temple. Hence the Rashi comment The verse (talking about the Temple and the daily offerings) states And I will designate that place as a meeting place with the Jewish nation and I will be sanctified with my honor. The underlined references to Jewish nation, sanctification and honor echo and cross reference the similar words people, sanctification, honor and near in verse Lv10-01:03.

Text of Target Verse Lv10-01:03 Text of Reference Verse Ex29-43c
And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took each of them his censer, and put fire in it, and put incense on it, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. Then Moses said to Aaron, This [death] corresponds to what God said: I will be sanctified in them that come near to me, and before all the people I will be honored. And Aaron held his peace. And I will designate that place as a meeting place with the Jewish nation and I will be sanctified with my honor
Rashi comments: The verse (talking about the Temple and the daily offerings) states And I will designate that place as a meeting place with the Jewish nation and I will be sanctified by my honorees. The underlined references to Jewish nation, sanctification and honor echo and cross reference the similar words people, sanctification,honor and near in verse Lv10-01:03.

Advanced Rashi: Rashi's literal comment is Don't read the Biblical textual word I will be sanctified in my Honor but rather read it as I will be sanctified by my Honorees. Rashi of course was not advocating misreading the authorized Masoretic text but rather was making a pun. This pun is not necessary in order to understand the cross references of the verse.

    Rather Rashi can be simply understood as follows:
    • The Exodus verse speaks about God being sanctified in honor among the people
    • The Leviticus verse speaks about God being sanctified in those Near him, and being honored in the nation.
    The underlined words are certainly sufficient to see the Exodus verse as the referent of the citation of the Leviticus verse. I believe this is the proper approach to Rashi without need of exact citation or puns.

      2. RASHI METHOD: WORD MEANING
      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 Ex28-30b
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1209.htm
      Brief Summary: LIGHT can mean PROPHETIC enLIGHTenment. The priestly garment named LIGHT inspired PROPHECY

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.

    The Heberw Biblical root Aleph-Vav-Resh has a fundamental meaning of light. Hence this Biblical root can mean / refer to
  • light
  • mirrors [ ]
  • prophetic visions [ cf. the English vision ]
  • dew [ because light frequently sparkles on dew drops ]
  • fitting, proper [ because it looks right ]
  • military confrontation [ because you force your enemy to see your power ]

Applying the above translation to Ex28-30b discussing the priestly garments we obtain And you shall put in the breastplate of judgment, the Light and Innocence [garment appendages that inspire prophetic visions] ; and they shall be upon Aaronís heart, when he goes in before the Lord; and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the people of Israel upon his heart before the Lord continually.

    Advanced Rashi: This Rashi has given rise to all types of folklore describing exactly how the garments inspired prophetic visions. We prefer not to interpret these items literally but rather, we interpret these items functionally to reflect prophetic goals. So we interpret as follows:
  • The Light garment contained the Divine name inside means The Light garment inspired prophecy
  • The Light garment did not have the Divine name inside it during the 2nd Temple means The Light garment no longer inspired prophecy during the 2nd temple,
  • The Light garment communicated prophecy by the full Hebrew Alphabet which was used to spell the names of all tribes means The Light garment with its colored stones and names of tribes was able to communicate ideas symbolically using the various colors and tribes each with their own idiosyncracies.

In each case we reject a literal interpretation and instead stick to the basic idea that the Urim, the Light garment, inspired prophecy. We believe such an approach the best.

      3. RASHI METHOD: 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 Ex29-01a
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1209.htm
      Brief Summary: Lamed-Kuph-Ceth and Kuph-Ceth are two command forms for the root Lamed-Kuph-Ceth.

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 Ex29-01a discussing the consecration offering of the Priests states And this is the thing that thou shalt do unto them to hallow them, to minister unto Me in the priest's office: take one young bullock and two rams without blemish. Rashi translates the Biblical word Lamed-Kuph-Ceth as coming from the Biblical root Lamed-Kuph-Ceth which means to take. 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 Command mode

Advanced Rashi: Rashi literally states We find two command forms for verbs whose first letter is Lamed: The two forms are Lamed-Kuph-Ceth and Kuph-Ceth. Both forms are a command conjugation meaning take. So Rashi is simply pointing out that there are two conjugations to the command form of Lamed-2-3 roots. Although this fact can be looked up in modern grammar books, such books were not present in Rashi's time. In fact even many modern grammar books will only give one form and not mention alternate forms.

    4. RASHI METHOD: ALIGNMENT
    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 Ex27-20b
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1209.htm
    Brief Summary: OLIVE OIL vs PURE olive oil GROUND FOR LIGHT Rashi: There are 2 diferent processing mechanisms for oil.

The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Ex27-20b, Ex29-40 Both verses/verselets discuss Temple processes requiring oil. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: The olive oil used for the Candellabrah was different than the oil used for annointing or for meal offerings. The verse calls the Minchah oil and annointing oil grounded olive oil. By contract the Candellabrah olive oil is called pure...grounded for lighting indicating a special process that prevented dregs from being in the oil so that the light would be pure. [In practice other olive oil processing involved weights and grinding to press out the oil while the processing of the Candellabrah olive oil involved letting the olives sit in a basket with the force of their weight causing the oil to naturally ooze. This natural process, therefore, resulted in no dregs, and consequently was highly suitable for light]

Verse Text of Verse Rashi comment
Ex27-20b And you shall command the people of Israel, that they bring you pure olive oil beaten for lighting, for the lamp to burn always The olive oil used for the Candellabrah was different than the oil used for annointing or for meal offerings. The verse calls the Minchah oil and annointing oil grounded olive oil. By contract the Candellabrah olive oil is called pure...grounded for lighting indicating a special process that prevented dregs from being in the oil so that the light would be pure. [In practice other olive oil processing involved weights and grinding to press out the oil while the processing of the Candellabrah olive oil involved letting the olives sit in a basket with the force of their weight causing the oil to naturally ooze. This natural process, therefore, resulted in no dregs, and consequently was highly suitable for light]
Ex29-40 And with the one lamb a tenth deal of flour mixed with the fourth part of a hin of ground oil; and the fourth part of a hin of wine for a drink offering.

Advanced Rashi: The Talmud, Menacoth, 86, presents controversy on how the oil was processed. I have therefore decided not to give details but rather to indicate purpose and function. The method for producing the Candellabrah olive oil had to be such that it was beaten for light and pure. This could happen if the olives were allowed to naturally ooze oil...as long as no weights or grinding was done there would be minimum dregs.

The Talmud (and Rashi) take the verse phrase ground for light to emphasize that The olive oil used in the Menorah had to be especially processed for light. Although there is controversy in the Talmud, the basic idea is agreed on: The processing of Candellabrah olive oil should be done without pressure from grinding since such pressure produces dregs which intefers with the quality of light. As already indicated one production approach is to let the olives lie in a basket until the weight of the olives causes the oil to seep out by itself (Without any pressure).

      5. RASHI METHOD: CONTRADICTION
      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 Ex28-37a
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1209.htm
      Brief Summary: The Priestly mask was attached by threads both AROUND and OVER the head.

The table below presents two contradictory verses / verselets. Both verses speak about fixing the Priestly mask on the head. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says place the mask upon the turban while the other verse states place the mask opposite the turban We see the contradiction---which is it? Is the mask placed upon or opposite the turban? Rashi simply resolves this contradiction using the 2 aspects method: The mask was secured by two threads - one went around the head in back while the other went over the head. Hence one thread was opposite the turban while the other thread was on on the turban. A diagram and explanatory legend are presented below.

Summary Verse / Source Text of verse / Source
Priestly Mask is upon the turban Ex28-37 And you shall put it on a blue lace, that it may be upon the turban; opposite the turban it shall be.
Priestly mask is opposite the turban Ex28-37 And you shall put it on a blue lace, that it may be upon the turban; opposite the turban it shall be.
Resolution: 2 Aspects The mask was secured by two threads - one went around the head in back while the other went over the head. Hence one thread was opposite the turban while the other thread was on on the turban. A diagram and explanatory legend are presented below.

The following diagram clarifies

   
			
                           (A)                
                   (A)/----------------|
                     /         | (B)   |(A)
		mask/   Priest    Head |
                    \          | (B)   |  Back of Priest's head
           eyes      \                 |     
                   (A)\        | (B)   |(A)
                       \---------------|
                            (A)


  • The Priest Mask was above the eyes
  • Thread A went around the Priest Head and tied in back
  • Thread B went over the Priest's Head and tied to thread A
  • --------------------------------------------------------
  • Consequently, the Mask was secured with two threads A and B
  • Thread A was opposite and beneath the turban around the head temples.
  • Thread B went over the head; it was above and on the turban

Hence we see that there are two aspects to the Priestly Mask/Turban relationship. There is a mask-thread on the Turban and there is a mask-thread around the Turban.

Advanced Rashi: The above Rashi requires two techniques: The Contradiction technique and the spreadsheet technique.

    6. RASHI METHOD: STYLE
    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 Ex30-08b
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/ex30-08b.htm
    Brief Summary: OFFER INCENSE - ONLY at morning and evening when the Candellabrah is being worked on.
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 Ex30-07:08 discussing what is offered on the Golden Altar states
    • General: And Aaron shall burn on it sweet incense
    • Detail:
      • Every early morning; when he dresses the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it.
      • And when Aaron lights the lamps at evening, he shall burn incense upon it,
    The general clause states offer incense on the golden altar and could mean that you can offer incense any time during the day. The detail clause provides specificity to the general clause and describes how it should be interpreted: Of all the times of the day, only in the early morning and evening should you offer incense.

Advanced Rashi: The example just presented occurs in my article http://www.Rashiyomi.com/biblicalformatting.pdf. It is also discussed in an article, not yet published, on broad-restrictive interpretation in law, presented at the 20th Midwest Jewish Studies conference.

    7. RASHI METHOD: FORMATTING
    BRIEF EXPLANATION:Inferences from Biblical formatting: --bold,italics, and paragraph structure.
    • 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 Ex28-24a
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1209.htm
    Brief Summary: Make SHOULDER SETTINGS and CORDS. Connect the SHOULDER SETTINGS and the CHOSHEN with these CORDS.

Very often Rashi will make an inference from the paragraph structure. A typical paragraph structures can be parallel, contrastive, or sequential, with or without bullets. The parallel and contrastive structure naturally generate Rashi comments.

    Biblical verses Ex28-13:29, discuss the binding of the Choshen garment to the rest of the Priestly garments.
    • And you shall make clamps of gold;
    • And two chains of pure gold at the ends; twisted like cords shall you make them, and fasten the corded chains to the clamps.
    • And you shall make the breastplate of judgment with skilful work; ... of gold, of blue, ... And you shall set in it settings of stones, ....
    • And you shall make upon the breastplateb ropes, twisted like cords, of pure gold, at the end.
    • And you shall make upon the breastplate two rings of gold, ... And you shall put the two corded chains of gold in the two rings which are on the ends of the breastplate. And the other two ends ....
    As can be seen from the bulleted passage there are 4 stages:
    • production of shoulder clamps,
    • production of chains,
    • production of a breastplate (Choshen), and
    • binding of the breastplate (Choshen) to the clamps.
    Using this paragraph structure Rashi infers that The ropes/cords mentioned in the 4th bullet is the same as the chains/cords mentioned in the 2nd bullet. The Bible initially simply said to make chains and later told how the chains would be used to fasten the breastplate to the shoulder clamps. As can be seen, the driving force of this Rashi comment is the paragraph structure.

Advanced Rashi: The Bible uses two technical terms - Sharsheroth and Sharshoth. It is not clear what the exact translation is. I have simply selected two terms, Chains/Ropes. I simply selected them as approximations to indicate the twoness, not necessarily because I believe them to be exact translations. Similsrly, I translated avoth as cords. It could also simply mean thick textures. Again: My goal was to emphasize when the words used in two verses were the same or different. As indicated we are unaware in some cases of the exact translation.

We have defended the above Rashi comment using paragraph structure and context. Rashi gives a further proof by aligning the Biblical passage ordering the production of the garments with the Biblical passage describing the implementation of the order. Rashi observes that In this chapter ordering construction the Bible mentions the ropes twice: Make chains....make ropes..... By contrast in the chapter describing the implementation of this order the Bible only mentions the item once (Cf Ex39-15).

Both derivations - the alignment approach and the paragraph format approach are equally valid. The reader should carefully examine each argument by itself to convince him/herself that this is indeed the case.

      8. RASHI METHOD: DATABASES
      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 Ex29-22d
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1209.htm
      Brief Summary: UP offerings totally go on altar; SIN / REST offerings go to priests/altar. But COMPLETE/PEACE offerings go to priests/altar/owners - they are complete.

    We ask the following database query: Who consumes the various types of offerings? 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) Up offerings are totally consumed by the altar (They totally go up to God;
    • (2) Rest offerings are shared by altar and priests (They give some rest to the priests who sometimes work and do not share in eating the offering).
    • (3) Complete offerings are shared by all parties - altar, priests and owners - hence they are complete.
    The list below presents the results of the database query.

Verse Support Offering Type On altar> Consumed by priests? Consumed by owners? Reason for Name
Lv01 Up (Olah ) Yes No No Solely goes up (to God)
Lv02 Rest (Minchah ) Yes Yes No Gives rest to hard working priests by allowing them to share in eating
Lv03 Complete (Shelamim ) Yes Yes Yes Sacrifice is completely shared by all parties;

Advanced Rashi: We should clarify that certain sacrifices the Priests have a right to eat while others they do not eat at all. Similarly the owners participate in the eating of certain sacrifices but not others.

      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 Ex29-12c
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1209.htm
      Brief Summary: The FOUNDATION of the altar refers to an INDENTATION in the first altar layer where blood could be poured.

Verse Ex29-12c discussing the blood procedures during the sacrifices states And thou shalt take of the blood of the bullock, and put it upon the horns of the altar with thy finger; and thou shalt pour out all the remaining blood at the base of the altar.

To understand the Rashi on this verse we first cite Rav Hirsch's comments on Nu28-06 which discusses the daily offerings and states It is a continual burnt offering, produced at Mount Sinai for a sweet savor, a sacrifice made by fire to the Lord. Rav Hirsch notes that the daily offerings were not produced at Mount Sinai but offered on the altar. Therefore, concludes, Rav Hirsch, The altar resembled a mountain in appearance starting with a wide base and having a small top. The diagram below depicts this. Rav Hirsch further explains The altar resembled Mount Sinai since the sacrifices inspired prophecy and Mount Sinai was the original national prophetic revelantion. Therefore the altar resembled Mount Sinai so as to symbolically confirm prophetic capability of the people.

'                                     ----- ALTAR TOP
'                                  -----------
'                               -----------------
'                             ---------------------- ALTAR BASE

The actual dimensions and height of each component are mostly given through tradition and cannot be inferred from textual sources. The height of the altar base was minimal, 1 cubit. Rashi explains that There was an indentation on top of the altar base; the indentation served as a receptacle for the blood poured to the foundation. The diagram below depicts this.

'                                  ------------
'                                  |           | Altar base
'                                  |           | Each side had an indentation.
'                                  |           | Blood could be poured in
'                                  |           | This indentation.
'                                  -------------

Since this Rashi clarifies diagrams we classify it as a NonVerse, Diagramatic method.

      10. RASHI METHOD: SYMBOLISM
      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 Ex29-01b
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1209.htm
      Brief Summary: The priests bring an OX for their consecration ceremony. OX = productivity which atones for Boredom the seed for sexual sins.

Verse Ex29-01b discussing the consecration ceremony of the priests states And this is the thing that you shall do to them to hallow them, to minister to me in the priestís office; Take one young ox, and two rams without blemish, The consecration ceremony symbolically affirmed values needed by Priests to do their work. In my article The Priest as Vocational Counselor, presented at the Midwest Jewish Studies Conference in 2006, and to appear in the Jewish Bible Quarterly in 2010, I have shown that the 6 items offerable as sacrifices correspond to the 6 basic personality types of the internationally accepted Holland theory of personality. Rams correspond to social leaders and oxen correspond to producers [for example, secretaries, tailors, etc].

Using this symbolism we can easily understand that a Priest has to be a Ram, a social leader. Rashi explains that Priests have to have continuous daily productive activities (like oxen ploughing a field). Rashi explains Continuous productive activity is an antitode to boredom which leads to sexual sin.

We see boredom, leading to sexual sin, in the sin of the Golden calf - the people had nothing to do, so they made a party, and one thing led to another. Similarly Jewish Law strongly protects a married woman's right to work (since otherwise the resulting boredom would lead to improper behavior).

Advanced Rashi: Rashi actually simply and tersely says The ox atoned for the sin of the golden calf. Some have interpreted this as a (cheap) play on words: ox - calf. However I believe there is a deeper symbolic meaning: Ox-like productivity atones for the boredom that led to the sexual orgies of the golden calf. Note especially that that we have interpreted the golden-calf as primarily a sexual sin rather than an idolatrous sin. This is consistent with the Talmudic observation that the Jews worshipped idols after the decalogue, not because of beliefs, but rather because of the parties associated with the idolatry.

Conclusion

This week's parshah contains examples of all Rashi methods. Visit the RashiYomi website at http://www.Rashiyomi.com and http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule.htm for further details and examples.