The 10 RashiYomi Rules
Their presence in Rashis on Parshat BaMidBaR
Volume 12, Number 18
Rashi is Simple - Volume 35 Number 18

Used in the weekly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
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(c) RashiYomi Incorporated, Dr. Hendel, President,
May 21st, 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 Nu04-13a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: AND THEY WILL DUST THE ALTAR (Nu04-13) references the COPPER ALTAR (Lv06-01:03)

Verse Nu04-13a discussing the altar ashes states And they shall take away the ashes from the altar, and spread a purple cloth on it; Rashi notes that the underlined words, ashes from the altar references verses Lv06-01:03 discussing the ash collection ceremony. Hence the Rashi comment The Biblical phrase ashes from the altar in Nu04-13a references the ash collection ceremony for the copper altar on which was offered the daily offering (Lv06-01:03)

Text of Target Verse Nu04-13a Text of Reference Verse Lv06-01:03
. And they shall take away the ashes from the altar, and spread a purple cloth on it; And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Command Aaron and his sons, saying, This is the Torah of the burnt offering; It is the burnt offering, because of the burning upon the altar all night to the morning, and the fire of the altar shall be burning in it. And the priest shall put on his linen garment, and his linen breeches shall he put upon his flesh, and take up the ashes which the fire has consumed with the burnt offering on the altar, and he shall put them beside the altar.
Rashi comments: The Biblical phrase ashes from the altar in Nu04-13a references the ash collection ceremony for the copper altar on which was offered the daily offering (Lv06-01:03)

      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 Nu04-09a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: The FLAMES of the Candellabrah refer to the CONTAINERS that contain the oil and wicks which produce the flames.

    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.

Verse Nu04-09a discussing transporting the Candellabrah when the Temple was dismantled states And they shall take a cloth of blue, and cover the Candellabrah, and its flames, and its tongs, and is pans, and all its oil utensils, with which they minister to it; Rashi explains the underlined word flames metonomycally as ...referring to the containers in which the wicks and oil were placed. Here the containers are named by their function, to produce flames (Similar to naming the United nations by its function). We can therefore retranslate the verse using this metonomycal explanation: And they shall take a cloth of blue, and cover the Candellabrah, and its wick-containers, and its tongs, and is pans, and all its oil utensils, with which they minister to it;

      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 Nu01-18a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: The HITPAEL (Interactive) form of Yud-Lamed-Daleth, TO GIVE BIRTH, means SHOW ONES GENEALOGY (WHO GAVE BIRTH TO A PERSON).

Most people are aware that Hebrew verbs come from three-letter roots. Each root is conjugated in the 8 dimensions of person, gender,plurality, tense, activity, modality, direct-object, and prepositional connective. For example the root Shin Mem Resh means to watch. The conjugations Shin-Mem-Resh-Tauv-Yud and Nun-Shin-Mem-Resh-Nun-Vav mean I watched and we were watched respectively.

The rules for Hebrew grammar are carefully described in many modern books and are well known. Rashi will sometimes comment when a verse is using a rare conjugation of an odd grammatical form.

When presenting grammatical Rashis my favorite reference is the appendix in volume 5 of the Ibn Shoshan dictionary. This very short appendix lists most conjugations.

Verse Nu01-18a discussing the taking of the wilderness census states And they assembled all the congregation together on the first day of the second month, and they showed their genealogies by families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, by their polls. Rashi translates the Biblical word Vav-Yud-Tauv-Yud-Lamed-Daleth-Vav as coming from the Biblical root Yud-Lamed-Daleth which means to give birth . We have conveniently embedded the Rashi translation in the translation of the verse. The conjugation rule governing this Biblical word may be found by using tables 2 in the Ibn Shoshan dictionary for the interactive mode (HiTPael). In the interactive (Hitpael) mode, this root means show ones genealogy. The actual Rashi comment is They brought their certificates of genealogical descent. The Radack translates this conjugation like Rashi and adds the explanatory comment The interactive form means they showed who gave birth to them.

    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 Nu01-03a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: Count a) The 20+ Year olds b) those in the Military. RASHI: Military consciption starts at 20.

The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Nu01-03a Both verses/verselets discuss who will be conted in the census. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: Military conscription starts at age 20.

Verse Text of Verse Rashi comment
    Take a census of all the congregation of the people of Israel, by families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of names, every male by their polls;
    • From twenty years old and upward,
    • all who are able to go forth to war in Israel;
    you and Aaron shall count them by their armies.
Military conscription starts at age 20.
    Take a census of all the congregation of the people of Israel, by families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of names, every male by their polls;
    • From twenty years old and upward,
    • all who are able to go forth to war in Israel;
    you and Aaron shall count them by their armies.

      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 Nu04-02a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary:
      • The levites start training at age 25;
      • they start actual Temple service at age 30.

    The table below presents presents two contradictory verses. Both verses talk about service of the Levites The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says Levites start at 25 while the other verse says Levites start at 30. Which is it? Do the Levites start at 25 or 30? Rashi simply resolves this using the 2 Stages method:
    • The levites start training at age 25;
    • they start actual Temple service at age 30.

Summary Verse / Source Text of verse / Source
Levites start training at 25. Nu08-24 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, This is it what concerns the Levites: from 25 years old and upward they shall go to be posted on posts for theservice of the Tent of Meeting;
Levites start actual service at 30 Nu04-02a Take a census of the sons of Kohath from among the sons of Levi, after their families, by the house of their fathers, From 30 years old and upward even until fifty years old, all who enter into the army, to do the work in the Tent of Meeting. This shall be the service of the sons of Kohath in the Tent of Meeting, about the most holy things;
Resolution: 2 Stages:
  • The levites start training at age 25;
  • they start actual Temple service at age 30.

Advanced Rashi: Traditional Rashi-ists would explain this contradiction by incorrectly appealing to word nuances or to alignment. For example aligning the two verses listed above we see a hinted contrast of come to be posted vs. to do work in the temple. This contrast of nuances hints at a distinction of actual work vs training to be posted.

We however have explained this Rashi using the contradiction method. What is important is the fact of contradiction. True there might be supportive nuances emanating from alignment but the fact of contradiction justifies a resolution. We try the three methods of resolution - 2 stages, 2 aspects, broad-literal meaning - and find that the 2 stages approach neatly suggests training-performance. This approach of seeking a natural resolution by appeal to real-world phenomena is characteristic of the contradiction method. In fact the contradiction method, although sometimes it uses verses, very often relies on intuitive logic to naturally resolve a textual contradiction by appeal to real world phenomena such as the training-performance sequence.

      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 Nu04-12a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: GENERAL: Priests come DETAIL: Pack this utensil and that utensil RASHI: And other utensils not mentioned GENERAL: When Priests are finished packed, Levites come to carry

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.

    Verse Nu04-05:15 discussing the responsibilities of the Priests in the Temple states
    • General: And when the camp sets forward, Aaron shall come, and his sons, and
    • Details:
      • they shall take down the covering veil, and cover the ark of Testimony with it;...
      • And upon the table of the bread of display they shall spread a cloth....
      • And they shall take a cloth of blue, and cover the lampstand of the light, ...
      • And upon the golden altar they shall spread a cloth of blue, ...
      • And they shall take all the instruments of ministry, ....
      • And they shall take away the ashes from the altar, and spread a purple cloth on it;....
    • General: And when Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sanctuary, and all the utensils of the sanctuary, as the camp is to set forward; then....(the Kehatites come...and carry)

Rashi generalizes the detail clause Ark, table, lampstand, golden altar,instruments of ministry.... as illustrative of the general clause, Aaron's sons shall come and cover the sanctuary and states: All utensils used in the Holies are included even if not explicitly enumerated, for example, the utensils for offering incense on the Golden altar. We believe this comment evident and consistent with the Rabbi Ishmael style guidelines.

      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 Nu03-39a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: All the Levites whom Moses and XX Aaron XX numbered... RASHI: The word AARON is stricken out since Aaron was stricken from the census since he isnt a Levite.

We have explained in our article Biblical Formatting located on the world wide web at, that the Biblical Author indicated strikeouts by using dotting on words.

Today we have a special treat: We bring all examples of this formatting technique used throughout the Bible as well as the corresponding Rashi on these verses.

    There are 7 examples of dotting or strikeout in the Bible. They are presented in the list below along with the accompanying Rashi interpretation. In each case Rashi interprets the verse as if the word was Stricken out.
  • Nu03-39a: All that were numbered of the Levites, whom Moses and Aaron numbered at the commandment of HaShem, by their families, all the males from a month old and upward, were twenty and two thousand. Rashi: Aaron was stricken from the census--that is he wasn't counted since he was a Levite.
  • Gn33-04b: And Esau ran to meet him [Jacob], and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him; and they wept. Rashi: The kiss should be stricken from the record! It wasn't a real (i.e. sincere) kiss since Esau really hated Jacob. Rashi offers an alternative explanation: The kiss should be stricken from the record since it was the only sincere kiss. All other kisses were insincere.
  • Dt29-29a: The secret things [sins] belong unto HaShem our G-d; but the things [sins] that are revealed belong [are visited] unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law. Rashi: Revealed should be stricken. Revealed sins weren't always visited upon the community; they weren't visited upon the community till after the conquest of Israel in the time of Joshua.
  • Gn37-12a: And his brethren went to shepard their father's flock in Shechem. Rashi: The word shepard should be stricken out since they didn't really go to shepard sheep; rather they went to escape their father who favored Joseph.
  • Nu09-10a: Speak unto the children of Israel, saying: If any man of you or of your generations shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey afar off, yet he shall keep the passover unto HaShem; Rashi: The requirement far off should be stricken. One need not be absolutely far away - but far away enough not to be able to come to Jerusalem.
  • Gn18-09: And they said to him: 'Where is Sarah thy wife?' And he said: 'Behold, in the tent.' Rashi: The phrase to him should be stricken. They said it generally, not just to him. When they met Abraham they said to him where is your spouse. Similarly when they met Sarah they said where is your spouse.
  • Gn19-33c And they made their father drink wine that night; and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. Rashi: The phrase nor when she arose is dotted indicating a strikeout: Lot really did know when she arose and even so did not avoid a recurrence on the 2nd night with his second daughter. [How can Rashi say he did know if the verse explicitly say he didn't know? Probably Rashi meant that e.g. he had a visual sexual dream about the affair so he really suspected it].

      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 Nu03-38a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: Moses the great teacher was neighbors to Judah, Issachar and Zevulun. The benefited from Moses being in their neighborhood and became good teachers.

We ask the following database query: How did the pairs of neighboring tribes in the wilderness encampings influence each other? 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: Good neighbors influence eath other positively. Moses' neighbors were Judah, Zevulun and Yissachar and all three tribes were known for their scholarship as stated in P060-09, Ju05-14, 1C12-32. We see here the influence of good neighbors since Moses the great scholar influenced his neighbors and they too became great scholars. We also see that proximity to Moses bestowed blessing and population increase on these three tribes since during the wilderness migrations these three tribes had an overall increasee in census even though the nation as a whole did not. (The textual source proving the proximity of Moses to these three tribes is indicated in the sequence of tribes at national migrations (Nu10-14,15,16,17 - which indicates a migration sequence of Judah 1st, Yissachar 2nd, Zevulun 3rd, certain Levite tribes) The list below presents the results of the database query and shows examples

Verse 1st Census Tribe Verse 2nd Census Percent Increase Verse indicating Scholarship
Nu01-27 74,600 Judah Nu26-22 76,500 2.5% P060-09
Nu01-29 54,400 Yissachar Nu26-25 64,300 18.2% 1Ch12-32
Nu01-31 57,400 Zevulun Nu26-27 60,500 5.4% Ju05-14
Sum 186,400 Eastern side Sum 201,300 8%
Nu01-46 603,550 Nation Nu26-51 601,730 -0.3%

Advanced Rashi: In the above table we only touched the basic idea in this query. We could also follow Rav Hirsch and analyze census increase / decreases on all sides. For example we can show how the tribes involved in the Korach rebellion also influenced each other, however negatively. We however suffice with the database query above which justifies the Rashi commment that Good neighbors have positive influence.

      BRIEF EXPLANATION: The common denominator of the 3 submethods of the Spreadsheet 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 example applies to Rashis Nu04-10a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: And they shall put it and all its utensils inside a COVERING of goats’ skins RASHI: A COVERING refers to a Goat-skin-BRIEFCASE

Verse Nu04-10a discussing the packing of Temple utensils states And they shall put it and all its utensils inside a covering of goats’ skins, and shall put it upon a bar. Rashi explains the underlined phrase covering of goats' skins In a skin briefcase. Here Rashi gives a geometric model ((briefcase)) to clarify the Biblical text. Hence we classify this Rashi as a NonVerse diagrammatic Rashi.

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