Their presence in Rashis on Parshat VaYiQRaH Volume 12, Number 12
Rashi is Simple - Volume 35 Number 12
Used in the weekly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
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Mar 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.
Verse Lv05-18a discussing the ram guilt offering for doubtful trespass of a major Biblical prohibition states And he shall bring a ram without blemish from the flock, according to the valuation, for a guilt offering, to the priest; and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his ignorance where he erred and knew it not, and it shall be forgiven him. Rashi notes that the underlined words, according to the valuation references verses Lv05-15 discussing the guilt offering for trespassing sacred objects. Hence the Rashi comment The valuation referred to in Lv05-18 for a doubtful-major-sin guilt offering references the valuation referred to in Lv05-16 for a sacred-object-trespass offering; this valuation is defined at [two] sacred shekels.
Rashi would sometimes derive the meaning of a word from the meaning of its underlying Biblical root. In applying this method Rashi would use all available grammatical methods to study the meanings of related roots. The next paragraph presents one such rule.
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 pronoun usage. The basic rule of pronouns is that After a noun is stated a 1st time, in subsequents referents to that noun, pronouns are used. The great Malbim showed that throughout Leviticus repeated nouns are interpreted exegetically to indicate some type of emphasis, typically through a broader application of the noun reference.
With this background we cite Lv03-06 discussing the bringing of the Elevation offering: If his offering is a elevation sacrifice of the herd, then let him offer a male ... without blemish; he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the Tent of Meeting before the Lord. ... And he shall flay the elevation offering, and cut it into his pieces. The underlined phrase the elevation offering repeated the noun instead of using a pronoun it, which we see is used later on in the verse. For example, the verse could have said ...And he shall flay it and cut it into her pieces. Rashi as understood by the Malbim explains The repeated the elevation offering broadens the applicability of the cited law - just flaying the elevation offering discussed in this chapter- to any elevation offering. That is all elevation offerings, not just the particular elevation offering discussed in this Biblical chapter, Lv01, require the flaying procedure.
The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Lv01-14b Both verses/verselets discuss the types of birds that may be offered as offerings. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: Here, in this verse, as well as throughout the rest of the Bible, we always find children associated with Pigeons. Similarly we always find turtledoves associated with lack of reference to children. Hence we conclude that a) When bringing turtledoves only adults can be brought as bird offerings while b) When bringing pigeons only teenage/younger pigeons can be brought as a bird offerings.
Advanced Rashi: We have defended this Rashi using the alignment method. However we could have also defended it using the format method since the repeated keyword of in Lv01-14 which states ...he shall bring his offering of turtledoves or of pigeons, creates a bullet like structure emphasizing the distinctness of each enumerated item: a) turtledoves and b) child pigeons.
Similarly we could have defended this Rashi using the database method since a database review of all verses referring to turtledoves and pigeons always associates the adjective child with pigeons, not with turtledoves.
The table below presents presents two contradictory verses. Both verses talk about the Altar fire. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says fire perpetually remains on the altar while the other verse says the priests place fire on the altar. Which is it? Was the altar fire perpetual or was it supplied by Priests. Rashi simply resolves this using the 2 aspects method: There were two sources for the altar fire. (1) The altar fire was perpetual and consequently only additional wood was needed. (2) The priests, in addition to bringing wood, also brought fire.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi literally says The fire came from heaven [from above] and also from the priests. This does not contradict our approach that the fire was perpetually on the altar. The altar is a Temple object and Temple ownership is frequently referred to as Heaven Ownership or Higher Ownership. Although Rashi does not explicitly mention the verse about perpetual fire we feel that this is the source for the Rashi comment.
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.
Advanced Rashi: In other words, in classical general-detail guidance Rashi is stating If you bring an oven-baked rest offering then you can only bring either wafer or loaf offerings. We should add that in addition to the derivation based on style Rashi derives technical laws on the difference between wafer and loaf offerings by aligning the two halves of the detail clause. For example, as can be seen in the above citation, loaves are mixed with oil while wafers are anointed with oil. More can be said but our basic goal here was to clarify the Rashi use of the style method.
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, Lv01-05e: And he shall kill the bull before the Lord; and the priests, the sons of Aaron, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood around upon the altar that is by the door of the Tent of Meeting. As indicated we interpret this repetition as indicating an unspecified emphasis. In modern notation we would translate this sentence with an underline: And he shall kill the bull before the Lord; and the priests, the sons of Aaron, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle it around upon the altar that is by the door of the Tent of Meeting. 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 that any blood may be used including blood mixed with blood of other (Kosher) sacrifices.
Advanced Rashi: The Rashi derivation here is almost identical to the derivation in rule 3 above, Grammar. There the derivation was based on the pronoun rule: A repeated noun that avoids a pronoun should be interpreted as indicating emphasis, for example, a broad interpretation. Such a derivation from pronoun usage could also be inferred from use of the repeated noun since repetition also indicates emphasis, for example a broad interpretation. In both cases we have interpreted the Biblical text broadly whether because of the pronoun or repeated noun: (1) Flay this elevation offering and similarly flay all elevation offerings; (2) bring to the altar and sprinkle blood, in whatever condition the blood is, including bloods of different offerings that were accidentally mixed together.
The Rashi text includes two midrashim. The second Midrash focuses on another text about blood that uses restrictive language. This is typical in Leviticus: Two almost identical verses will use two opposite methods: One method requires broad interpretation while the other method requires restrictive interpretation. Rashi's approach to such exegetical pairs is to interpret broadly but not too broadly allowing obvious exclusions. So for example on this verse Rashi generalizes that the blood of the particular elevation offering is sprinkled, even if it mixed with the blood of other sacrifices going on concurrently but not if it mixed with blood from sacrifices on the other altar the golder altar. A full explanation of this aspect of Rashi would take us too far afield and consequently we leave it to another issue. For this issue we suffice with showing that repeated nouns or not using pronouns implies some sort of emphasis, for example, a textual interpretation to broader categories. The extent of this broadness will be discussed elsewhere.
Finally we should clarify the law Rashi's derivation speaks about: If you were offering two elevation offerings and their blood accidentally got mixed up then you can sprinkle the mixed blood and the offerer's vows for bringing an elevation offering has been fulfilled - the offerer does not have to bring another elevation offerings. However if the blood was mixed with water or blood of invalid sacrifices or blood of sacrifices on other altars then the offering is invalid. The offerer must bring another offering to replace this one.
We ask the following database query: What Minchah procedures (rest-offering procedures) are offered and who (owner/priest) must/may do them. 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: 1) All procedures until taking the handful may be done by the owner. This includes, mixing with oil, placing the frankincense and bringing to the Priest. 2) From the handful procedure to the end only Priests may officiate. This includes taking the handful, bringing it to the altar, offering oil-flour on altar, offering frankincense on altar. The list below presents the results of the database query.
The list below has an unusual construction: The left hand column mentions all procedures of the Minchah offering. The other 4 columns list 4 textual passages dealing with Minchah. The table itself reflects which procedures are mentioned in which textual passages. Taking the table as a whole shows how Rashi following the Talmud inferred the laws of Minchah.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi states The requirement of priest starts with the lifting of the fistful procedure. But a review of the above table shows that the requirement of priest starts with the bringing of the Minchah to the altar corner. Why did Rashi deviate from the implications of the above list?
The above table answers this. The bringing to the altar corner is not mentioned in the Lv02-01:03 passage. In that passage the requirement of Priest is first mentioned in the taking of the fistful procedure. Hence the Rashi comment The requirement of priest starts with the taking the fistful procedure is not a statement about legal requirements but rather a statement about the textual listing of the word priest among all procedures. In the Lv02-01:03 text the word Priest first occurs in the the taking of fistful procedure. However to infer the correct legal requirements we have to not only review this passage but all passages discussing Minchah. When we do that we find that the legal requirement of priest begins with bringing the Minchah to the altar corner.
Rashi, in his commentary, will sometimes clarify a diagram or picture. Such a diagramatic Rashi is classified as non verse and is similar to Rashis that clarify algebraic or spreadsheet details. Rashi below clarifies that the word opposite which normally refers to opposite in a plane can also mean opposite and on top.
Verse Lv03-09b discussing the organ parts offered on the altar in the Peace offering states And he shall offer of the sacrifice of the peace offering an offering made by fire to the Lord; its fat - the whole rump - which he shall remove opposite [and above] the kidneys, and the fat that covers the entrails, and all the fat that is upon the entrails, We have embedded the Rashi translation in the verse translation. As already indicated this Rashi is classified as non verse because of the diagramatic clarification.
Verse Lv02-13a discussing the requirement of salting (rest) offerings states And every meal-offering of thine shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy G-d to be lacking from thy meal-offering; with all thy offerings thou shalt offer salt.
Rav Hirsch (in Nu) explains the symbolism of salt: After reviewing many biblical verses we see that salt is used to indicate destruction. But salt is also used to preserve meat from decay. How can the same item be used for both perservation and destruction? The answer is we interpret salt as maintaining the status quo. If a land is destroyed then salting it preserves this destruction preventing further growth. If meat is about to decay then salting it prevents the decay. Thus salt symbolizes steadfastness.
Using this symbolism we can understand the symbolic requirement of salting offerings: Whatever lessons are taught by the offerings must not be transient one day lessons in the Temple but permanantly preserved eternally.
Advanced Rashi: But Rashi does not say this. Rather Rashi crytpically says: Water and salt made a deal at creation. Water is used on the Succah festival while salting is done to sacrifices.
But we can now explain this cryptic Rashi. If salt is the symbol of preservation then water is the symbol of growth. Growth and change belong on the Succah festival when the water ceremony was performed. The Succah symbolizes non-citizenship. Every non-citizenship situation is one we should grow from. But the offerings symbolize acceptance of God's law. God's law is not something we grow out of; rather it is something eternal which should always be preserved. It is a climactic state where satisfaction and happiness abound; it is not a temporary transition state to something better, for there is nothing better!