The 10 RashiYomi Rules
Their presence in Rashis on Parshat VaYaQHeL PeKuDaY
Volume 12, Number 11
Rashi is Simple - Volume 35 Number 11

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 20th, 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.

    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 Ex38-08b
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1211.htm
    Brief Summary: THE WOMEN WHO WERE STATIONED BY THE TEMPLE (Ex38-08b) refereces Ex35-22 AND THE MEN CAME _AFTER_ THE WOMAN

Verse Ex38-08b discussing the construction of the priestly laver from the mirrors of the women stationed by the temple states And he made the laver of brass, and the base thereof of brass, of the mirrors of the women stationed by the temple Rashi notes that the underlined words, the women stationed by the temple references verses Ex35-22 discussing the donations of material to Temple construction. Hence the Rashi comment The women stationed by the Temple references Ex35-22 which states that in the donation process the men came after the women... The word after hints at a certain anxiousness of the women who assembled at stations waiting eagerly to donate to the Temple.

Text of Target Verse Ex38-08b Text of Reference Verse Ex35-21:22
And he made the laver of brass, and the base thereof of brass, of the mirrors of the women stationed at the Temple And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the Lordís offering to the work of the Tent of Meeting, and for all his service, and for the holy garments. And the men came after the women as many as were willing hearted, and brought bracelets, and ear rings, and rings, and bracelets, all jewels of gold; and every man who offered offered an offering of gold to the Lord.
Rashi comments: The women stationed by the Temple references Ex35-22 which states that in the donation process the men came after the women... The word after hints at a certain anxiousness of the women who assembled at stations waiting eagerly to donate to the Temple.

Advanced Rashi: To fully understand Rashi we must use two Rashi rules. In addition to the reference rule mentioned above we must use the non-verse rule. The non-verse rule supplements Biblical commentary with non-verse methods including spreadsheet, algebraic, geometric, diagramatic methods as well as cultural customs. Here, I would appeal to the practice, readily observed when hit movies occur, for people to line up and station themselves in advance, outside the movie theatre, anxiously waiting to purchase tickets. So too, if the verse states that the men came after the women it seems logical, that because they were anxious, that they were lined up or stationed waiting to give their donations.

A further support for this Rashi would be the idea, frequently mentioned in Rashi, that the Temple and the offerings were atonements for the sin of the Golden calf. Recall that the women did not participate in the Golden calf sin (after all the idolatry was done for purposes of the sex that went with it and women weren't anxious to cater to men). Hence the women were anxious to offer their jewelery to the Temple to atone for the fact that the men yanked the jewelery from their wives for the golden calf Ex32-01:03. The idea presented in this paragraph is a bit speculative but seems reasonable and could be used supportively.

      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 Ex38-18a
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1211.htm
      Brief Summary: THE SCREEN-DOOR opposite THE WALL CURTAINS uses a synechdoche: OPPOSITE in this context means OF EQUAL LENGTH.

    The FFF submethod states that words can be named by Form, Feel, and Function.
  • Some examples of naming words by Form include (a) the leg of a chair, (b) the handle of a pot, (c) the branch of a family tree, (d) surfing the net or (e) brainstorming Some of these examples illustrate naming objects by form while other examples illustrate naming activities by form.
  • A good punchy example distinguishing naming by form vs. function is pentagon-UN. The pentagon is named after the shape and form of the building while the United Nations is named after the function and purpose of the building. Although both these buildings have as a purpose world peace they are named differently.
  • Examples of naming by feel/substance are glasses, hardship, ironing-board, plaster etc.

The FFF principle is a special case of the literary techniques of synechdoche-metonomy. These literary principles, universal to all languages, state that items can be named by related items, by parts of those items, or by good examples of those items. For example honey refers to anything sweet since honey is a good example of something sweet. Similarly hot refers to matters of love since the two are related. Todays Rashi can best be understood by applying these principles.

An example of the triple FFF method occurs in verse Ex38-18a discussing the construction of the Temple door-screen which states And the door-screen for the gate of the court was needlework, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen; and twenty cubits was the length, and the height in the breadth was five cubits, opposite [and equal in measure to] the wall-curtains of the court. Rashi explains: The word opposite in this verse means of the same measure. The reason the word opposite means of the same measure is because the oppositeness of two objects is a good example (synechdoche) of pairs of objects with the same measurement since such pairs of objects with the same measurement have an appearance of being opposite each other. As can be seen from the underlined words the Rashi comment is compactly and explicitly combined in the Biblical text.

      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 Ex35-17a
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1211.htm
      Brief Summary: The word courtyard can take masculine and feminine forms.

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, f) the possessive and g) connective words, 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.

In today's example Rashi explains rules about gender. Some background is useful. In Hebrew unlike English every word has a gender. Consequently possessive suffixes must reflect proper gender agreement. A punchy way of capturing Hebrew gender in English is to use in translations the anthropomorphic terms his and her. Using this convention we would translate Ex35-17 as follows: [The wise will make...] the hangings of the court, his pillars thereof, and her sockets, and the screen for the gate of the court; The Rashi comment is now readily understandable: The word court can be both masculine and feminine. Hence the switch in the verse: his pillars, vs. her sockets.

Advanced Rashi: Rashi in his commentary simply introduces the idea of bi-gender words. He does not explain why there is such a stark switch. However we can easily suggest that sockets are receptacles and hence feminine while pillars are masculine symbols.

    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 Ex40-29a
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1211.htm
    Brief Summary: HE [Moses] offered the [daily] UP offering; MOSES, AARON, and CHILDREN washed their hands/legs.

The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Ex40-29a, Ex40-31. Both verses/verselets discuss the procedures when the Temple was erected / conscecrated. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: Note the contrast in subjects: he (Moses) offered vs Moses, Aaron, and his sons washed. It was Moses not Aaron who offered the daily offering during the conscecration of the Temple. Indeed, just as Moses offered sacrifices during the 7 days of consecration (Lv08-15,Lv08-19,21, etc) so too he offered on the 8th day since Aaron and his sons had not yet completed all the induction sacrifices (Lv08-01:04) and was not yet a priest. Since there were no priests, Moses did the offering.

Verse Text of Verse Rashi comment
Ex40-29 And he[Moses] put the altar of burnt offering by the door of the tabernacle of the Tent of the Meeting, and he offered upon it the burnt offering and the meal offering; as the Lord commanded Moses. Note the contrast in subjects: he (Moses) offered vs Moses, Aaron, and his sons washed. It was Moses not Aaron who offered the daily offering during the conscecration of the Temple. Indeed, just as Moses offered sacrifices during the 7 days of consecration (Lv08-15,Lv08-19,21, etc) so too he offered on the 8th day since Aaron and his sons had not yet completed all the induction sacrifices (Lv08-01:04) and was not yet a priest. Since there were no priests, Moses did the offering.
Ex40-31 And Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet there;

Advanced Rashi: We can strengthen the Rashi derivation. All of Ex40 uses Moses-he to indicate the subject of the sentence until Ex40-31 when the subject switches to Mosees, Aaron and his sons. This contrast indicates a switch in subject from he = Moses to Moses, Aaron and his children. The alignment table above simply contrasts two of the many verses in the chapter.

      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 Ex37-01a
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/ex37-01a.htm
      Brief Summary: Bezalel, the MANAGER of Temple construction, is credited with the construction.

The table below presents presents two contradictory verses. Both verses talk about the temple construction. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says ...the wise men constructed the temple while the other verse says ... Bezalel constructed.... Which is it? Did Bezalel construct the Temple or did the staff of wise people construct it? Rashi simply resolves this using the 2 aspects method: Bezalel was the manager of Temple construction The crafstmen were the staff of Temple construction. Managers obtain credit for the entire project since by overseeing the project they enable others to do its work.

Summary Verse / Source Text of verse / Source
The wise staff constructed the Temple Ex36-01:02 Then, Bezalel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whom the Lord put wisdom and understanding to know how to work all kinds of work for the service of the sanctuary, did according to all that the Lord had commanded. And Moses called Bezalel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whose heart the Lord had put wisdom, every one whose heart stirred him up to come to the work to do it;
Bezalel made the ark Ex37-01 And Bezalel made the ark of shittim wood; two cubits and a half was its length, and a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height;
Resolution: 2 Aspects: Bezalel was the manager of Temple construction The crafstmen were the staff of Temple construction. Managers obtain credit for the entire project since by overseeing the project they enable others to do its work.

    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 Ex39-32a
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w13n11.htm
    Brief Summary: Temple work done SINCE Jews did as told

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. Today's example illustrates this as shown below.

Verse Ex39-32a discussing the completion of the Temple states General: Thus was finished all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting; [since]... Detail: ... the children of Israel did according to all that HaShem commanded Moses, so did they.

In the above translation we have interpolated the word since which captures the essence of Rashi's remark on a causal connection between the two verse halves. This causal relationship exhibits the general-development form: The general idea of completion is developed using the causal idea of obedience.

Advanced Rashi: There is a subtle point here: The Temple, even though it is God's house, was not built by God (compare the Midrash that God will build the 3rd Temple). Man had to participate for the Temple to be built in a timely manner.

      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 Ex38-21b
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w13n8.htm
      Brief Summary: The required dimensions of the utensils of Moses' desert tabernacle applied to all temples.

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 indicates bold, italics, underline by using repetition. In other words if a modern author wanted to emphasize a word they would either underline, bold or italicize it. However when the Biblical author wishes to emphasize a word He repeats it. The effect - whether thru repetition or using underline - is the same. It is only the means of conveying this emphasis that is different.

Notice the repeated underlined word in the following verse, Ex38-21b: This is the accounting of the tabernacle, of the tabernacle of Testimony, as it was accounted, according to the commandment of Moses, for the service of the Levites, by the hand of Ithamar, son to Aaron the priest. As indicated we interpret this repetition as indicating an unspecified emphasis. In modern notation we would translate this sentence with an underline: This is the accounting of the tabernacle of Testimony, as it was accounted, according to the commandment of Moses, for the service of the Levites, by the hand of Ithamar, son to Aaron the priest. A modern reader would see the underline in this sentence the same way that a Biblical reader sees the repetition: as indicating an unspecified emphasis. Rashi translates this unspecified emphasis as indicating general applicability of the rules for this Temple's construction to any Temple: This is the accounting of any Temple [such as the Temple] of Testimony, as it was accounted, according to the commandment of Moses, for the service of the Levites, by the hand of Ithamar, son to Aaron the priest. In other words the measurements and construction details of each utensil in Moses' desert temple were also requirements for the utensils in other Temples such as the Temple of King Solomon.

Advanced Rashi: Rashi literally says: The verse repeates the phrase of the Temple thereby hinting at the Temple involved in two destructions. Here Rashi emphasizes the emotional aspect of the Temple. However the simple meaning of the verse is that all Temples have the same measurements. Rashi supplemented this simple meaning with emotional affects of the many temples the Jews have lived through.

To capture the Rashi we translate the verse using the phrase ...of any Temple. Such a translation hints at the Solomon temple since the verse properly speaks about any Temple including the Temple's in Gilgal, Shiloh, and King Messiah. The phrase ...of any Temple also hints at Rashi's point as expressed in his literal comment about the two temples that were destroyed since the fact that Jews lived through many Temples shows they were never completely deservent of staying in one Temple.

      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 Ex35-34a
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/ex35-34a.htm
      Brief Summary: God choses by MERIT not LINEAGE. Ahaliab, the Temple builder, was from Dan, not Judah.

We ask the following database query: In the Bible, does God select by lineage or merit? 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-Midrashic inference: Selection for important posts was frequently done by merit not by lineage. The list below presents the results of the database query.

Person Chosen for Who was avoided that was better Verse support
Moses Prophet Aaron his older brother Ex04-10:16
Ahaliav Build Temple Ahaliav was from Dan-not Judah Ex35-34a
David King He was youngest of 8 1S16-07:12
Jacob Patriarch Esauv was older Gn27
Saul King Saul was from Binyamin-Not Judah 1S09-21

Advanced Rashi: As can be seen from the above list God in many situations choses people based on merit rather than on tribal status (Judah vs. Benjamin or Dan) or seniority (the eldest). A famous clash between Jacob and Joseph in Gn48 further emphasizes that merit takes place on lineage and form. Judaism firmly believes that our standing before God is based on our own deeds. Such a positive attitude, placing responsibility on each individual, strongly encourages good deeds and action.

      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 Ex38-24a Ex38-26a Ex38-26b
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1211.htm
      Brief Summary: The Biblical KIKAR was 3000 SHEKEL. The HALF SHEKEL was ONE BEKA.

    Rashi uses the simple algebraic equations presented in the next paragraph to infer currency equivalancies. The verses in question are
    • Ex38-25 And the silver of those who were counted of the congregation was a hundred (100) Kikar, and a thousand seven hundred and seventy five (1775) sacred shekels
    • Ex38-26 A bekah for every man, that is, half a sacred shekel, for every one who went to be counted, from twenty years old and upward, for six hundred and three thousand five hundred and fifty (603,550) men.
    • Ex30-13 This they shall give, every one who passes among those who are counted, half a sacred shekel a shekel is twenty gerahs; a half shekel shall be the offering of the Lord.
    Rashis goals were to ascertain the relationship between the currencies mentioned: the Kikar and Shekel. In performing the algebra below we will therefore find it convenient to use abbreviation initials as follows:
    • K will stand for Kikar
    • S will stand for Shekel
    • B will stand for the Beka.
    In the derivation below we number ((1),(2),(3)) equations referred to. We indicate verses as well as the equations derived from those verses. As can be seen one Kikkar is 3000 shekel.

Equation (1) Ex38-25 Total Silver Brought in = 100 K + 1775 S 
Equation (2) Ex38-26 Total Silver Donated    = 603550 B
Equation (3) Ex30-13,Ex38-26               B = 1/2 S
-----------------------------------------------------------
By equations (1) and (2)  100 K  + 1775 S    = 603550 B
By equation  (3)          100 K  + 1775 S    = 603550 1/2 S
By arithmetic             100 K  + 1775 S    = 301775 S
By subtraction            100K               = 300000 S
By division               1  K               = 3000   S

Rashi in addition to the Biblical commentary, also adds, as he does on rare occasions, commentary on Rabbinic measures. Rashi introduces the following additional currency equivalancies for Rabbinic currencies.

1 Kikar           =       60 Maneh, known Rabbinic currency
Sacred Kikar      =       Double the ordinary Kikar
1 Sacred Kikar    =       120 Maneh, combining the last 2 equations
1 Kikar           =       3000 Shekel, from the last paragraph
120 Maneh         =       3000 Shekel,combining the last 2 equations
1   Manen         =       25  shekel, by division

Finally Rashi explains that 1 Maneh = 25 Selah his point being that what the Bible calls a Shekel is called a Sela in Rabbinic currency.

This example is a peach of an example of the non-verse, algebraic, spreadsheet method.

Conclusion

This week's parshah contains no examples of the symbolism Rashi method. Visit the RashiYomi website at http://www.Rashiyomi.com and http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule.htm for further details and examples.