Their presence in Rashis on Parshat TaZRiA MetZoRaH Volume 12, Number 14
Rashi is Simple - Volume 35 Number 14
Used in the weekly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
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Apr 23rd, 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 Lv13-42:43 discussing leprosy on a bald-head states And if there is in the bald head, or bald forehead, a white reddish sore; it is a leprosy sprung up in his bald head, or his bald forehead. Then the priest shall look upon it; and, behold, if the swelling of the sore is white reddish in his bald head, or in his bald forehead, as the leprosy appears in the skin of the flesh; Rashi notes that the underlined words, as the leprosy appears in the skin of the flesh; references verses Lv13-01:08 discussing skin leprosy. Hence the Rashi comment The number of shades of bald-head leprosy and the number of weeks of Priestly review of bald-head leprosy were not explicitly mentioned but instead are inferred by explicit reference to the rules of skin leprosy Lv13-01:08 which are governed by two weeks of Priestly reviews and four shades of white.
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.
Biblical verse Lv13-55e refers to garments that are described in Hebrew as Kuph-Resh-Cheth-Tauv or Gimel-Beth-Cheth-Tauv. The corresponding roots Kuph-Resh-Cheth and Gimel-Beth-Cheth mean bald and humpy respectively. By using the triple FFF, Form,Function, Feel principle we can understand that a bald garment would refer to a worn out garment which has lost all its fuzz while by contrast humpy garment would refer to a new (woolen) garment which by nature would have lots of protrusions of strands of wools resembling small humps. Such a naming of garments is similar to the English naming of color by fruits with that color: e.g. an orange dress. Here we name things by Form, that is the external characteristics such as color or the appearance or lack of protrusions.
Advanced Rashi: There are two Rashis (Lv13-55e, Lv13-55f) commenting on the meaning of the Hebrew terms Kuph-Resh-Cheth-Tauv and Gimel-Beth-Cheth-Tauv. The first Rashi simply says Translated as indicated by the Targum. The second Rashi goes into more details including exegetical comparisons to other leprous items. We believe our explanation above consistent with the first Rashi referencing the Aramaic translation since Aramaic also used such literary terms. We will explain the other Rashi on these meanings in another future digest.
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 and gender 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. In English nouns do not have gender. We rather use the non-gender word, it. By contrast in Hebrew, nouns have gender. Instead of using the word it Hebrew will use the words he, she to refer to nouns.
Rashi explains that The Hebrew word for leprosy is feminine while the Hebrew word for wound is masculine. Based on the examples listed below I would amend this Rashi text as follows: The Hebrew word for leprosy is feminine while the Hebrew word for wound is also masculine. Note that consistent with this textual emendation of Rashi we in fact have many words in Hebrew which are bi-genderal, masculine and feminine. Examples are presented in the next paragraph.
To appreciate Rashi we need to review the verses in the Chapter and check that the pronoun she is exclusively coupled with Leprosy while both pronouns she,he are coupled with wound.
The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Lv13-47:59 Both verses/verselets discuss the leprous-garment procedures. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: The washing procedure is neither done to the entire garment nor to the leprous spot but rather is done to that where the disease is that is to the leprous spot and its surroundings.
Advanced Rashi: We can expand on the interpretation of this Rashi. The paragraph cited above uses the phrase garment, warp, woof, or skin about half a dozen times. But when it comes to washing this phrase is not used! Rather it refers to washing that where the leprous spot is. It is this aligned contrast which drives the Rashi comment. We could have also approached the interpretation of this Rashi comment using the Rule #8, Databases, which would require a complete citation of all half dozen occurrences.
The table below presents presents two contradictory verses. Both verses talk about house-leprosy The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says God placed a leprous spot in the house while the other verse says it looks to me leprous Which is it? Is it a leprous spot or does it just look like a leprous spot. Rashi simply resolves this using the 2 Stages method: The declaration of the Priest is required to effect leprous status. Therefore proper etiquette is that the house owner should request inspection without declaration: It appears to me to be leprous. This is stage #1. The actual declaration of the priest, stage #2, is when the spot becomes definitely leprous.
6. RASHI METHOD: STYLE
Rashi examines how rules of style influences inferences between general and detail statements in paragraphs.
URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/lv14-09a.htm
Brief Summary: Shave BEARD and EYEBROW hair - that is, hair that is DENSE and VISIBLE.
Certain Biblical paragraphs are stated in a Theme-Development-Theme form. In other words a broad general idea is stated first followed by the development of this broad general theme in specific details. The paragraph-like unit is then closed with a repetition of the broad theme. The Theme-Detail-Theme form creates a unified paragraph. The detailed section of this paragraph is therefore seen as an extension of the general theme sentences. Today's example illustrates this as shown immediately below.
Rashi generalizes the detail clause head, beard, eyebrows as illustrative of the general clause, all his hair and states: hair that is dense and visible. We believe this comment evident and consistent with the Rabbi Ishmael style guidelines.
Advanced Rashi: If you look carefully at the verse above you will see that the word all is bolded. The word all always requires generalization. Hence the additional Rashi comment: The actual law requires shaving the arm and armpit hair. In other words all hair is shaven except the nose-hair which is neither visible nor dense.
My contribution to this Rashi is to see the derivation as emanating from two Rashi methods: The theme-detail-theme method and the special word- all method.Alternate derivations of the final law - dense and visible are given by Rambam and Raavad (in the laws of Leprosy) who do not use the exegesis from the word all.
The Formatting principle includes exegetical Rashi comments focusing on paragraph structure. That is, the parts of a paragraph when properly sequenced naturally suggest commentary. This type of commentary, emanating from structure, is different from commentary from word meaning, grammatical function or verse comparison. Todays example nicely illustrates this.
We present below a paragraph Lv13-01:06 indented and bulletized to indicate its structure.
We have, for convenience lettered the various bullets. The letter Z indicates time Zero. The letters A,B respectively indicate the 1st and 2nd week (Week A and Week B). The paragraph indicates inspections of the leprous flesh at times 0,1,2 (Z,A,B). The Rashi comment is now crystal clear: The seven days mentioned in bullet Z2 is connected with the inspection mentioned in bullet A. In other words the priest shuts him up seven days in order to see if any leprous signs develop at the end of the seven days. Many other similar connective comments can be inferred from the above paragraph structure. We have in fact often, in this email newsletter, advocated generalizing a specific Rashi comment to other comments with similar interpretations. It is a very useful exercise for the serious student of Rashi if they take the laws of leprosy as outlined for example in the Mishneh Torah of the Rambam and trace each law to its corresponding place in the above bulleted paragraph structure.
Advanced Rashi: We again emphasize that the driving force for this Rashi comment is not word meaning, grammar, extra words, or alignment. Rather the driving force for this Rashi comment is the paragraph structure which in and of itself communicates meaning and textual interpretation. This emphasis on structure as a source of interpretation is an important point often overlooked by Rashi scholars. The serious student of Rashi should carefully study this and similar examples until this new Rashi tool becomes part of their arsenal of interpretative tools.
We ask the following database query: How are the various types of ritual impurities caused? 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: Most types of ritual impurity are caused by world events such as death and sexual discharges. However leprous ritual impurity in addition to a world event - e.g. the white skin patches with white hair - also requires a declaration of a priest to create the ritually impure state. That is a white patch with white hair is in and of itself not ritually impure until a priest declares it ritually impure. This contrast - leprous vs other ritual impurities - is textually indicated by a phrase peculiar to leprosy, ....and the priest shall declare it impure... a phrase which occurs with no other ritual impurity, implying that priestly declaration is a prerequisite for creation of the ritually impure status. The list below presents the results of the database query.
Verse Lv15-25 discussing the ritual impurity resulting from female blood flows states And if a woman has a bloody discharge many days not during the time of her menstruation, or if it runs beyond the time of her menstruation; all the days of the discharge of her uncleanness shall be as the days of her menstruation; she shall be unclean. Rashi commenting on the underlined phrase many days explains We use a minimum number approach. The plural word days implies a minimum of two. The adjectival phrase many days implies a minimum of three. Since we have no reason to interpret the phrase as strictly greater than three we therefore interpret the phrase to mean exactly three. This interpretation based on the minimum number approach has legal force so that a woman who has only three days of blood flow (according to the criteria mentioned in the verse) acquires the specific status of ritual impurity mentioned in the verse.
Biblical chapter Lv13 discusses the ritual impurity of leprosy. The atonement procedure for this ritual impurity is discussed in Biblical Chapter Lv14.
A full discussion of the rich and beautiful symbolism of leprosy would require applying the objective symbolic methods presented in my article on symbolism. In this weekly digest we simply sketch a few important ideas.
The atonement procedure for the lepor is presented in Lv14 which begins Then shall the priest command to take for him who is to be cleansed two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop
Rashi states: Leprosy is a punishment for chattering like a bird which leads to slander, the core of personality sins. The atonement and remedy for slander is an awareness of the rich spectrum of human personality from the lower hyssop-like classes to the mighty cedar like upper classes. Awareness of the full spectrum of human personality prevents a person from slandering people since he understands each individual's behavior based on where they are.
Advanced Rashi:Rashi does not literally state the symbolic interpretation presented above. Rather Rashi states If a person feels high and mighty like a cedar then let him lower himself till he feels like a hyssop.
However I believe that our interpretation of Rashi is consistent with the above literal interpretation: We argued that Rashi is interpreting the symbolism generally: There is a full spectrum of human personality. Rashi literally gives a specific example of this very general idea: If you think you belong on the upper class, the cedar part of the human spectrum, then see those aspects of you that belong to the lower class, the hyssop part of the human spectrum. However Rashi would be fully comfortable to apply the cedar-hyssop spectrum in other ways also. In other words we see the Rashi text as an example of a more general symbolic interpretation.
Praise be Him who chose them and their learning.