Their presence in Rashis on Parshat Emor Volume 12, Number 16
Rashi is Simple - Volume 35 Number 16
Used in the weekly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
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May 7st, 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 Lv24-23a discussing how the Jews did as required with the death sentence of the blasphemer states And Moses spoke to the people of Israel, that they should bring forth him who had cursed out of the camp, and stone him with stones. And the people of Israel did as the Lord commanded Moses. Rashi notes that the underlined words, And the people of Israel did as the Lord commanded Moses. references verses Ex19-13, Dt21-22:23 discussing other requirements of stoning such as hanging and shoving the person from a height. Hence the Rashi comment The statement The Jews did as God commanded Lv24-23a references not only the requirements on stoning listed in this chapter but generally references the requirements in all verses discussing stoning including the requirements of shooting down the person, that is, shoving him/her from a height Ex19-13 and hanging Dt21-22:23.
Advanced Rashi: The traditional Rashi-ists would explain this Rashi using the concept of redundancy. A typical explanation is that the verse says they stoned him.....the Jews did as God commanded. The repetition of they stoned him and also They did as God commanded suggests that something else was done. The traditional Rashi-ists will also use terms like the redundancy bothered Rashi and he explained it by referring to other verses.
The position of this email newsletter is that reference is a method in its own right - it does not need the support of other methods. So although the redundancy or repetition does suggest an emphasis which could point to references to other verses this is not necessary. Reference is a method in its own right. Reference is simply a method of enriching our understanding of the text independent of any problems.
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.
Applying the above translation to Lv24-16a discussing the death penalty due to a blasphemer we obtain He who identifies God's name [utters God's personal name, the Tetragrammaton] shall be put to death.
Advanced Rashi: The above translation may not seem punchy and exact. But other verses with the root Nun-kuph-beth are also problematic in translation. To illustrate one example Nu01-17 states And Moses and Aaron took these men who were fixed by names [their new social position/slots/holes were fixed]. Finally comapre the English idiom an opening referring to a job title; here opening closely resembles the Hebrew hole! Thus while these translations are correct they don't fit in English as snugly as most translations do.
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 dangling modifiers. This rule is similar to English - the rule states that generally, modifiers and modifier phrases should be proximate to the nouns and verbs they modify.
Advanced Rashi: The verse is certainly clearer if the phrases are rearranged. Why then was the verse written the way it is. My opinion is that whenever verses violate the dangling modifier rule the intent is to create a pun or double meaning in the verse. By making proximate the phrases my holy name that they hallow to me; the verse puns that the priests share with the owners in sanctifying the sacrifices to God. That is the priests are not passive bystanders implementing the owner's dedication but rather the priests share with the act of sanctification. In 2010 an article of mine, The Priest as Vocational Counselor will appear in the Jewish Bible Quarterly discussing and showing how the Priest actively functioned in the Temple as someone who trained the sacrifice owners in moral and psychological values.
The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Lv24-17a, Ex21-12 Both verses/verselets discuss a death penalty for murder. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: The death penalty for murder applies whether you kill an adult or a human soul e.g. a child.
Advanced Rashi: This Rashi focused on the alignment of adult vs. human. However there are other alignments in the verse such as the alignment between smites entire soul and smites so that he dies. Each alignment nuances various laws of murder. In todays digest we focused on the Rashi on the alignment of human vs. adult - this alignment justifies extension of the law to both adults and minors.
The table below presents presents two contradictory verses. Both verses talk about penalties for damages. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says a death penalty applies when you smite the entire soul of a person while the other verse says a death penalty applies when you smite a person. Which is it? Is there a death penalty simply for wounding / smiting or does the death penalty require murder / smiting the whole soul? Rashi simply resolves this using the 2 Aspects method: (1) There is a death penalty for smiting people only if death occurs. (2) There is a death penalty for smiting parents even if wounding, not death, occurs.
This Rashi is a good example of the contradiction method since the contradiction is inferred from the alignment of the entire soul of a person vs. person. Furthermore the resolution is supported by an explicit verse stating that smiting parents in and of itself is punished by a death penalty.
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 they shouldn't marry a prostitute or divorcee as illustrative of the general clause, they shall be holy and states: Make them holy! If the priest violates the commandments and marries a divorcee then force him, against his will, to divorce her! We believe this comment evident and consistent with the Rabbi Ishmael style guidelines.
We totally agree with this analysis. But we point out that without the paragraph structure we would interpret make them holy to refer to symbolic gestures of giving Priests preference and treatment with honor. By embedding the detailed prohibition of forbidden marriages inside the general clauses of requiring them to be holy we infer that the general clauses apply to the detailed clauses and require them in all circumstances - hence the prohibition of marrying a divorcee applies even if it was inadvertently done - that is, a divorce is required.
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 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.
Bullets whether indicated through modern notation or through the Biblical method of repeating keywords always indicate contrastive emphasis - that is, each bullet is presumed to be a distinct item contrasted to the other items on the list. Very often the bullets are also used to indicate that the entire list is exhaustive of some spectrum.
Advanced Rashi: We have embedded this Rashi comment in the above translation. It is important to emphasize that Rashi is not deriving this translation from the meaning of the Hebrew word which is translated as relative. Indeed there are many verses where this Hebrew word (Shin-Aleph-Resh, Sher) means any relative; for example Lv18-06, Lv25-49. Rather the driving force motivating Rashi to translate the word relative as meaning wife comes from the bulleted structure which requires that each bullet item be regarded as distinctive. Reviewing the list shows that wife is a logical complement to the other items and fits nicely at the beginning of the list.
What emerges from this analysis is that the formatting method is a separate and distinct exegetical tool, alongside with grammar, meaning and alignment, by which to understand textual material.
We ask the following database query: What activities does the Torah classify as charity? 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: There are 4 ways to fulfill the obligation of charity: 1) Monetary gifts 2) monetary loans 3) business support 4) abandonment of items letting the poor work (gather) for them. The list below presents the results of the database query.
Advanced Rashi: Note the exquisite contrast in these 4 examples: Give him freely vs. loan on condition of repayment; Strengthen and help him in business vs. let them gather the gleanings themselves - let them work, do not help them! This rich spectrum of charity obligations allows all to participate in this important commandment. I believe the results of this database query an innovation of this email list as I have not seen it explicitly in any books on charity.
The table below presents the 3 commandments as well as their symbolic interpretation. We also include a non-commandment example of leaning. It follows that this Rashi combines the database and symbolism methods.
Sermonic points: The idea of symbolically affirming a serious moment such as transfer of responsibility occurs in many cultures with many diverse symbols. All cultures recognize the need to symbolically affirm serious moments and values. The symbolism here identifes support in the physical realm with moral support in the social realm. It is a symbol based on function.