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

Used in the weekly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
Visit the RashiYomi website:
(c) RashiYomi Incorporated, Dr. Hendel, President,
Mar 13th, 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 Ex30-36a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: The Ketoreth offered in the Temple, mentioned in Ex30-35:36 references Ex29-07 discussing offering Ketoreth on the golden altar.

Verse Ex30-35:36 discussing the Ketoreth offered in the Temple states And you shall make it a Ketoreth, a confection according to the art of the apothecary, mixed together, pure and holy; And you shall beat some of it very small, and put of it before the Testimony in the Tent of Meeting, where I will meet with you; it shall be to you most holy. Rashi notes that the underlined words, Ketoreth....put of it before the Testimony in the Tent of Meeting, where I will meet with you references verses Ex29-07 discussing the offering of Ketoreth on the Golden Altar. Hence the Rashi comment The statement in Ex30-35:36 that Ketoreth should be offered in the Temple where God meets with the people references Ex29-07 requiring offering the Ketoreth on the Golden Altar.

Text of Target Verse Ex30-35:36 Text of Reference Verse Ex29-07
And you shall make it a Ketoreth, a confection according to the art of the apothecary, mixed together, pure and holy; And you shall beat some of it very small, and put of it before the Testimony in the Tent of Meeting, where I will meet with you; it shall be to you most holy. And Aaron shall burn on it [i.e. on the Golden Altar] sweet incense every morning; when he dresses the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it.
Rashi comments: The statement in in Ex30-35:36 that Ketoreth should be offered in the Temple where God meets with the people references Ex29-07 requiring offering the Ketoreth on the Golden Altar.

      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 Ex31-14c
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: To DESCECRATE (Cheth-Lamed-Lamed) means to TREAT LIKE DIRT (Cheth-Lamed = SAND).

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 Cheth-Lamed-Lamed, Cheth-Vav-Lamed, has a fundamental meaning of sand. Hence this Biblical root can mean / refer to
  • descecration, profane [ cf. the English idiom, treating like dirt. Here dirt and sand are treated similarly - indeed, sand is worse than dirt since plant growth cannot take place in it; so treat like sand means to treat like dirt that is to profance. ]
  • death [ cf. the English idiom, returned to dust ]
  • sickness [ a sandy land, unlike a dirt land is sick and cannot produce plants ]
  • dance [ cf. the English idiom, dancing in the wind. The dance motions resemble sand whirling in the air - dance is characterized by disconnected motions in various directions like whirling sand. ]
  • flute [ unlike the violin, known for its lyrical quality, the flute is known for rapid disconnected tones (hence its applicability to dance). The rapid disconnected tones resemble sand which is also disconnected unlike rich soil. ]

Applying the above translation to Ex31-14c discussing the death penalty for descecration of the Sabbath we obtain Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore, for it is holy unto you; every one that profaneth it [treats it like sand/dirt] shall surely be put to death; for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. In providing this English translation notice that we have used the English idiom treats it like dirt which mirrors the Hebrew treats it like sand since sand and dirt resemble each other - in fact sand is inferior to dirt in that plant growth cannot take place in it.

Advanced Rashi: Rashi literally translates descecrates as Treating it like a weekday. The Hebrew word weekday literally means a profaned day and is the opposite of the Sabbath which is a holy day. We in fact could have added weekday to the above list. In Hebrew weekday = sand day = profaned day.

      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 Ex31-18e
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: A singular spelling of a plural indicates a deficiency in the plurality: e.g. a) missing parts b) many or one or c) a plurality of identicals.

Today, students of the Bible learn grammar from Biblical Hebrew grammar textbooks. These textbooks organize material by topics. Grammatical topics include a) verb mood and conjugation, b) plurality agreement, c) pronoun reference, d) subject-verb-object sequencing, e) sentence structure and type and many other topics.

However in Rashi's time gramamr was just beginning. There were no official grammatical textbooks and tables. One of Rashi's functions was to teach grammar. Rashi did not write a grammar textbook but instead left grammatical explanations appended to each verse.

    The following examples illustrate the techniques of Biblical metaplasmus:
  • Metaplasmus indicating a deficiency in (numerical) plurality: Lv23-40 discussing the commandment of Lulav states ....take a beautiful fruit, ...palm br-nchs.... Rashi explains: The deficiently spelled br-nchs indicates a deficiency in plurality: You can fulfill the obligation by either taking several branches or only one. It is not required to take several.
  • Metaplasmus indicating missing parts: Lv23-42:43 discussing the commandment to dwell in the Succah states ...dwell in the Sucah...all citizens dwell in the Sucah... Rashi explains: The deficiently spelled Sucah indicates a deficiency in parts - the obligation is fulfilled even with a Sucah that has only 3 walls instead of the normal 4.
  • Metaplasmus indicating a deficiency in (qualitative) plurality: Ex31-18 discussing Moses' descent from the mountain with the 2 tablets states Moses descended from the mountain.. and two testimony tblets of stone were in Moses hand written by God's finger. Rashi explains: The deficiently written tblets indicates a qualitative deficiency in the tablets: The tablets were all identical (a plurality of identicals is inferior, deficient and less than a plurality of similar objects).

In the above illustrations we have mirrored the Biblical metaplasmus with a similar underlined English word which is misspelled. This technique was first presented in my article Biblical Puns.

    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 Ex32-11a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: TO WHAT END, God, will you lose your temper (Idols aren't real); WHY should you let Egypt say that you took them out to destroy them.

The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Ex32-18a Both verses/verselets discuss God losing his temper on the Jews because of the golden calf sin. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: Moses asked God: For what end will you lose your temper if the Jews are worshipping idols; the idols can't do anything and sooner or later the Jews will find out (without your losing your temper) that they made a mistake.

Verse Text of Verse Rashi comment
  • To what end, God, should your temper flare at your nation...
  • Why should Egypt say He took them out in evil to kill them.
Moses asked God: For what end will you lose your temper if the Jews are worshipping idols; the idols can't do anything and sooner or later the Jews will find out (without your losing your temper) that they made a mistake.
  • To what end, God, should your temper flare at your nation...
  • Why should Egypt say He took them out in evil to kill them.

    Advanced Rashi: The above analysis is based on the translation distinction:
    • The Hebrew La-mah means to what end
    • The Hebrew Lam-mah means why.
    This distinction between La-mah with the accent on the terminal syllable vs. Lam-mah with the accent on the initial syllable as meaning to what end and why respectively with an emphasis on the future (to what end) vs. the past (why), was introduced by Rabbi Hirsch. Consequently Rashi as understood by Rabbi Hirsch sees difference in meaning between these two similar words, in contrast to the Raddack who sees the two words as meaning the same thing. This controversy is in fact part of a general pattern of controversy between Rashi and other Rishonim: Rashi in general is more nuanced in his translations and will see meaningful distinctions which can be neatly mirrored in punchy English translations.

      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 Ex34-07b Ex20-05b
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: God rewards a) service from love to thousandS of generations and b) service from fear to only one thousand generations.

The table below presents two contradictory verses / verselets. Both verses speak about God's reward of those who serve him. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says God rewards to thousands of generations, while the other verse states God rewards to only one thousand generations. We see the contradiction---which is it? Does God reward to thousands or only one thousdand generations. Rashi simply resolves this contradiction using the 2 aspects method: As can be seen from the above verses God rewards and shows mercy (a) To those who love him for thousands of generations (b) To those who only serve Him (from fear) to only 1 thousand generations.

Summary Verse / Source Text of verse / Source
God rewards (service from love) to thousands of generations Ex20-06 And showing mercy to thousands of those who love me, and keep my commandments.
God rewards (service from fear/watch) to only one thousand generations Dt07-09 Know therefore that the Lord your God, he is God, the faithful God, who watches (a) the covenant and mercy to those who love him and (b) to those who keep his commandments (from fear) to a thousand generations;
Resolution: 2 Aspects
    As can be seen from the above verses God rewards and shows mercy
  • (a) To those who love him for thousands of generations
  • (b) To those who only serve (from fear) to only 1 thousand generations.

Advanced Rashi: It might seem slightly arbitrary and picky that we emphasize proximity of words in these verses: to thousands of generations to those who love Him and watch his commandments vs. watches the convenant and treaty those who watch his commandments to one thousand generations. Actually it is not the word order that is driving the interpretation of this Rashi. Rather this Rashi comment is driven by the contradiction. Resolution of a contradiction frequently does not even require a verse! Rather the force of the contradiction in and of itself encourages breaking up the applicability of the verses to two cases based on logic. The proximity of thousands vs. thousand to those who love him vs. those who watch his commandments is an afterthought that supports this distinction. It is not the driving force of the Rashi comment. Such a perspective on Rashi makes it more palatable.

    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 Ex34-25c
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: Dont let the Pascal(or any) offering stay over till morning

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 Ex34-25c discussing the time limits for consumption of the Pascal lamb states ...neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto the morning. The Rabbi Ishmael example rule requires generalization of this passage. In this case we simply generalize from of the feast of Passover to any sacrifice: ...neither shall [any] sacrifice [such as] the feast of the passover be left unto the morning.

Advanced Rashi: The Rashi Generalization rule is frequently applied to typical situations. For example the punishment of rape victims is presented as a punishment of field-rapes since rapes frequently happen in un-manned areas (Rashi, Dt22-25.) Siimilarly responsibility for animal torts is presented in terms of ox torts since oxen were a frequently owned animal (Rashi, Ex21-35). So too here: Most sacrifices are consumed by morning. However the Passover sacrifice is a typical example of a sacrifice that might not be finished till morning since the Passover sacrifice is consumed by people, not the altar, during a meal with prolonged discussion and much wine which encourages early sleep. So the correct way to look at this Rashi is that Even the Passover sacrifice which might typically be left over till morning should not be left over till morning and certainly other sacrifices where there is no reason to delay altar consumption should not be left over till morning.

    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 Ex32-13b
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: Have memories (1) OF Abraham (who endured fire) (2)OF Isaac (who sacrificed himself at the Akaydah), and (3) OF Jacob (who endured exile).

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) Exe32-13b discussing Moses prayer to God that memories of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob should sway God from destroying the Jews: states Have memories
    • of Abraham
    • of Isaac and
    • of Jacob
    The repeated underlined word/phrase of 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 Have memories
    • of Abraham [Rashi: who endured a burning furnace rather than worship idols]
    • of Isaac [Rashi: who offered himself to the sword in the binding of the Akaydah] and
    • of Jacob [Rashi: who endured exile with Laban.]

Advanced Rashi: Just to recap - Moses prayed to God that memories of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their sacrifices should be sufficient to prevent God from punishing the Jews with burning, sword and exile.

Those who are use to the traditional way to learn Rashi would explain this Rashi by emphasizing the unnecessary repetition of the word of (the extra Hebrew lameds). The verse could have simply said Have memories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.... Such a formulation would have used only one of. Our contribution to this traditional understanding of Rashi, an understanding based on redundant words and letters, is to interpret the extra words/letters as indicating and creating a bullet like effect. It is the bullet effect, not the redundant words, that requires a distinct emphasis on all enumerated items. The conceptual literature refers to this as a method of intermediate concepts since the redundancy is seen not as the final solution but rather as an intermediate variable which in turn indicates a bullet effect.

      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 Ex30-20b
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: Let priests wash hands and legs prior to Temple service so they don't die. RASHI: So if they serve without washing they deserve death.

Verse Ex30-20b discussing the requirement of the Priests to wash their hands and legs when entering the Temple states when they go into the tent of meeting, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to cause an offering made by fire to smoke unto HaShem; Rashi clarifies: The verse says Let them wash when they enter to serve so that they don't die. From this we infer that If they didn't wash when they entered to serve they would be punished with death, since throughout the Torah we infer punishments from preventive verses.

Since this Rashi clarifies a logical inference we classify it as a NonVerse, Logic method.

      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 Ex30-34a, Ex30-34b, Ex30-34c
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: The Ketoreth perfumes contain DRIPPY, SHINY and FATTY spices corresponding to STATELY (drop by drop, bit by bit), FLASHY and INDULGENT people (All are needed)

The symbolism method seeks to extract meaningful inferences from the symbolism of the biblical text. The concept of symbolic interpretation is very involved. A good, compact, clear reference explaining when symbolism can be used and how to apply it may be found in my article Genesis 1 speaks about the creation of prophecy not the world which you can find at Today we explore the symbolism in Ex30-34 which reads as follows:

    And the Lord said to Moses, Take to you sweet spices,
    • drippy spice (storax), and
    • shiny spice (onycha), and
    • fatty spice (galbanum);
    these sweet spices with pure frankincense
    Rashi explains that
  • Storax is called drippy spice because it is typically obtained when it oozes from the tree;
  • onycha is called shiny spice because of its shiny appearance; I would therefore extend Rashi's method and explain:
  • Galbanum is called fatty spice because it smells bad like putrid fat.

Rashi makes symbolic inferences from the use of a bad smelling fatty spice in the sweet incense: This inclusion--of a bad smelling fatty spice in the sweet incense--teaches you that there is a requirement to include the bad smelling spices in the incense. Symbolically this means that every community who wishes to approach God in prayer which is compared to incense, is required to include bad and foul-smelling people.

    We can extend Rashi's symbolism as follows:
    • The shiny spice obviously symbolically refers to a shiny flashy person who is always conspicuous and showing off;
    • We have just seen that the fatty spice symbolizes foul-smelling people, people who are bad. Since you become fat by always indulging perhaps the fatty spice symbolizes indulgers; and
    • Finally the drippy spice would refer to a stately person who does things drop by drop (bit by bit) and not hurriedly.
    Together, the three spice types listed in Ex30-34--the drippy, fatty, and shiny---would correspond to three basic types of people: the stately, the indulgers and the flashy people.
    We could say more but the just-stated explanation gives the flavor of how Rashi's symbolism can be understood and extended in a natural way.


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