The 10 RashiYomi Rules
Their presence in Rashis on Parshat NaSoH
Volume 12, Number 19
Rashi is Simple - Volume 35 Number 19

Used in the weekly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
Visit the RashiYomi website:
(c) RashiYomi Incorporated, Dr. Hendel, President,
June 4th, 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 Nu06-09c
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: IF A PERSON DIES ON THE NAZARITE (Nu06-09a) cross references Nu19-14:17 discussing the tranfer of ritual purity from death in the same house.

Verse Nu06-09a discussing a sudden death in the Nazarite family states states And if any man die very suddenly beside him, and he defile his consecrated head, then he shall shave his head in the day of his cleansing, on the seventh day shall he shave it. Rashi notes that the underlined words, suddenly besides him references verses Nu19-14:17 discussing transfer of ritual impurity through death in the same house. Hence the Rashi comment The phrase when someone dies on the Nazarite suddenly Nu06-09a is interpreted according to Nu19-14:17 as referring to a death in the same house. However someone dieing in his family at a distant location would not confer on him ritual impurity.

Text of Target Verse Nu06-09a Text of Reference Verse Nu19-14:17
. And if any man die very suddenly beside him, and he defile his consecrated head, then he shall shave his head in the day of his cleansing, on the seventh day shall he shave it; This is the Torah, when a man dies in a tent; all who come into the tent, and all that is in the tent, shall be unclean seven days. And every open utensil, .... And whoever touches one who was slain with a sword in the open fields, or a dead body, ...f And for an unclean person they shall ...
Rashi comments: The phrase when someone dies on the Nazarite suddenly Nu06-09a is interpreted according to Nu19-14:17 as referring to a death in the same house. However someone dieing in his family at a distant location would not confer on him ritual impurity.

      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 Nu06-04a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: Cheth-Resh-Tzade-Nun (CHARTZAN), grape seeds, are THORNS (Taade-Nun-(TZINAH)) in a HOLE (Cheth-Resh-CHOR)

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.

There are 1900 Biblical roots. Of these 1900 roots about half involve X-Vav-Y X-Y-Y X-Y-Hey pairs. These roots (with one root letter weak) often, but not always, have related meanings. Consequently, very often, but not always. one can infer the meaning of a X-Y-Y root from the related X-Y-Hey or X-Vav-Y root.

Rashi believed in two grammatical systems. He believed in the traditional tri-literial (3-letter) root methods used to conjugate verbs and taught in all elementary schools.

Besides the conjugational root system Rashi also believed in a semantic root system. This is a separate system that enables derivation of root meaning from other roots.

For example the meaning of a 4-letter root, ABCD, is derived from the meaning of its two 2-letter subroots, ABCD = AB + CD. Similarly Rashi might derive the meaning of a traditional three letter root, ABC from a 2-letter and 1-letter subroot: ABC = A +B C or ABC=AB+C. Although these rules and equations are abstract we will present easily understood examples below.

    Rashi derives the meaning of the 4-letter root, Chet-Resh-Tzade-Nun, Chartzan are follows:
  • Cheth-Resh-Tzade-Nun,Chartzan =grape seeds
  • Cheth-Resh,Chor=hole
  • Tzade-Nun,Tzinah = thorn
  • So Cheth-Resh-Tzade-Nun=Cheth-Resh+ Tzade-Nun that is
  • Grape seeds = thorns in a hole
  • Here the Hebrew language names an item by how it feels. A person eating a grape (and not being careful) who bites into a seed feels as if (s)he had bitten a thorn. However, whereas an ordinary thorn is visible and public the grape seed is a thorn inside, in a hole. So grape seed = thorn in a hole the emphasis being on naming the item by how it feels.

      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 Nu07-89e
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: The pronoun ELAUV (Aleph-Lamed-Yud-Vav) means ONLY TO HIM. ....So (Nu07-89e) When Moses came to the Temple he heard God's voice speaking ONLY to him [Rashi: Aaron did not hear]

Rashi lived before the age of grammatical textbooks. Hence one of his functions was to teach the type of grammar that we all take for granted and find in modern basic grammatical textbooks.

A major thrust in modern textbooks is verb conjugation. However grammar additionally deals with a variety of other topics including: 1) plurality agreement, 2) gender agreement, 3) connective prepositions, 4) noun-adjective agreement, 5) indication of number, 6) subject-verb-object sequencing, 7) noun-adjective sequencing, 8) pronoun-reference designation and many similar rules found in the modern textbooks of a variety of languages including Hebrew.

    Today we study pronoun designation. Malbim introduced the principle that Biblical Hebrew has two methods of designating pronouns and each of these methods has a distinct meaning. If a pronoun is
    • designated by a suffix letter or 2 letter word then the translation should be to him/her, or it.
    • designated by an entire word then the translation should be only to him/her or only it.
    For example,
    • Lamed-Vav means to him while
    • Aleph-Lamed-Yud-Vav means only to him.

Using this rule we translate Nu07-89 as follows: And when Moses went into the Tent of Meeting to speak with him, then he heard the voice speaking only to him [but Aaron did not receive the prophetcies!] from the covering that was upon the ark of Testimony, from between the two kerubim; and he spoke to him. In the above translation we have embedded the Rashi comment as a parenthetical remark driven by the underlined word which we have translated according to the above mentioned rule.

    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 Nu05-13c
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: cf. HE DIDN'T NOTICE IT vs HIS _eyes_ DIDN'T NOTICE IT. HIS EYES excludes applicability to a blind person.

The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Nu05-13c, Lv05-02:04. Both verses/verselets discuss sins with lack of awareness. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: The ordinary Biblical idiom for lack of awareness or lack of knowledge is it was concealed from him. By contrast the phrase it was concealed from his eyes indicates a requirement that the person (who was unaware) is not blind.

Verse Text of Verse Rashi comment
Nu05-13c And a man lies with her carnally, and it is concealed from the eyes of her husband, and this is kept undetected, and she is defiled, and there is no witness against her, since she was not caught in the act; The ordinary Biblical idiom for lack of awareness or lack of knowledge is it was concealed from him. By contrast the phrase it was concealed from his eyes indicates a requirement that the person (who was unaware) is not blind.
Lv05-02:04 Or if a soul touches any unclean thing, whether it is a carcass of an unclean beast, or a carcass of unclean cattle, or the carcass of unclean creeping things, and it is concealed from him; he also shall be unclean, and guilty. is concealed is concealed

      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 Nu07-89d
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: ALTHOUGH a) No one besides Moses heard the prophetic talks to him NEVERTHELESS b) the voice of the talk was LOUD.

The table below presents presents two contradictory verses. Both verses talk about the prophetic speech of God to Moses. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says God spoke in the voice, that is, the same thunderous, trumpet-like voice by which God spoke at Sinai, while the other verse says God only spoke to Moses; Aaron could not hear the voice. Which is it? Was the voice thunderous and loud? If so why couldn't Aaron hear it? Perhaps it was a soft voice? Rashi simply resolves this using the 2 Aspects method: God's voice spoke within Moses. Since He did not speak externally Aaron could not hear it. However the voice within was thunderous and loud.

Summary Verse / Source Text of verse / Source
God's voice is thunderous and loud Nu07-69, Ex19-19, And when Moses went into the tent of meeting that He might speak with him, then he heard the Voice speaking only to him from above the ark-cover that was upon the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim; and He spoke unto him.... And when the voice of the shofar sounded long, and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him with voice.
Only Moses heard God's voice, not Aaron Nu07-69 And when Moses went into the tent of meeting that He might speak with him, then he heard the Voice speaking only to him from above the ark-cover that was upon the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim; and He spoke unto him.
Resolution: 2 Aspects: God's voice spoke within Moses (Nu12-06) Since He did not speak externally Aaron could not hear it. However the voice within was thunderous and loud.

    Advanced Rashi: This is a peach of Rashi. We have not treated it completely above. A proper analysis would require use of 3 Rashi rules applied 5 times. In fact the original source of this Rashi is not on this verse but rather this Rashi is almost a verbatim citation from the Sifrah on Lv01-01. Here are the Rashi comments which fully justify this Rashi:
  • Grammar: The article the indicates something well known.
  • Reference: Hence when Nu07-69 refers to the voice that Moses heard it must be referring to some well known voice, namely, the voice of the revelation as accounted in Ex19-19. Note that additionally the Sifrah also cites Ps29 and Ps93 both of which explicitly deal with the magnitude of the voice.
  • Grammar: The verb speak is normally accompanied by the pronoun in: You speak to someone in a certain place. However Lv01-01 uses the very rare construction God spoke to Moses from the Temple. The Sifray interprets this to mean that the voice never left the Temple (and hence was inaudible outside). Rather than get involved in defending this from rule I chose an equally good proof of the voice's inaudibility - the fact that Moses did hear while Aaron did not hear. We infer this from the use of the pronoun Aleph-Lamed-Yud-Vav which in rule #3, grammar above we have explained means only to him.
  • Grammar: Although the Sifrah does not cite it I found using Nu12-06 which explicitly says God spoke within him in a dream to be a convincing verse for resolving the contradiction. That is prophecy is heard within and consequently although the voice within may be loud it is inaudible to others.
  • Contradiction: Finally we have used the contradiction method as indicated above.

    We might also indicate the moral point of Rashi: Why is the verse emphasizing that the voice was loud but inaudible.
  • The emphasis on inaudibility to others is to indicate that God's voice is not an external voice in the physical world.
  • The emphasis on loudness is to indicate that prophecy is not a seance-like state where one hears inaudible voices that murmur and hint at things. Rather prophecy is loud and clear; the prophet is certain of the message received and uses his normal mental state to receive the message.

We still haven't completely explained this Rashi but have presented its basis and showed various rich aspects of it.

      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 Nu06-15a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: EVEN THOUGH the Nazarite offering is different - because you bring a BASKET OF MATZAH - NEVERTHELESS, you STILL bring MINCHAH and WINE LIBATIONS (as in all offerings)

    We have typically explained the style rules as dealing with paragraph formation. Today we explain a non-standard style rule, the exception style, which is also one of the Rabbi Ishmael style rules. The exception rule deals with exceptions to rules. Here is a simple example:
      A manufacturer produces electric cars which runs on electriciy instead of gas.
    The electric car is an exception to the general case of gas cars. The consumer has to deal with the following issue.
      Is this exception additive or replacive? In other words, has the exception, electrically run cars, replaced all rules of cars, or, is the exception, electrically run cars, an addition to all other rules about cars except for gas?
    The Rabbi Ishmael style rules explain that
      Exceptions are replacive: all former rules of cars have been replaced and do not apply unless the Biblical text explicitly re-enumerates it.
    So for exammple
      Electric cars do not require oil checkups and their owners do not require insurance and registration unless the regulations come and explicitly re-require them.

    The following Biblical paragraph, Nu06-14:17: illustrates the exception rule.
  • And this is the rule of the Nazirite, ...And he shall offer his offering to the Lord,
  • one male lamb of the first year without blemish for an up offering, and
  • one ewe lamb of the first year without blemish for a sin offering,
  • one ram without blemish for peace offerings,
  • a basket of unleavened bread,
  • cakes of fine flour mixed with oil,
  • wafers of unleavened bread anointed with oil,
    • and their meal offering,
    • and their drink offerings.
  • ....
  • And he shall offer the
    • ram for a sacrifice of peace offerings to the Lord,
    • on the basket of unleavened bread; and
    • he shall offer its meal offering,
    • and its drink offering

In the above passage, the Nazaarite offerings are an exception to general offerings. The reason they are an exception is because, as the underlined phrase shows, the Nazaarite offering has, in addition to traditional offerings - such as the up, sin, peace, wafer and cake offerings - also has a matzoh basket offering. This matzoh basket is an exception to the general offering.

According to the Rabbi Ishmael exception rule this difference between the Nazaarite and other offerings makes the Nazaarite offerings an exception. Therefore any other rule of offerings does not apply unless the Bible explicitly re-requires it. In particular as indicated by the underlined passages the meal offerings and libations associated with all offerings must also be offered at the Nazarite offering. As can be seen from the underlined passages the emphasis that meal offerings and drink offerings are also brought is mentioned twice.

Advanced Rashi: We have explained elsewhere that all Rabbi Ishmael rules deal with the interaction between examples and generalizations. Thus the law prohibiting muzzling an ox while threshing is, according to Rabbi Ishmael, not the totality of the rule, but a mere example of a more general rule that any animal should not have their eating inteferred with while working. Similarly the requirement, for example, to redeem second tithe on steaks, lambchops, wine and beer is seen, not as the list of things which can be redeeemed, but rather as examples of a more general rule that second tithe can be redeemed on any products that are derived from land based grown items.

The exception rule also deals with the interaction between examples and generalizations. For example when the Bible speaks about the Nazaarite offering and the exceptional matzoh basket we have to ask if this is the only exception or whether other aspects of the traditional sacrifices are also excepted. Thus the example-geenralization issue is a useful lens by which to study all Rabbi Ishmael rules.

      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 Nu05-27a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: He shall offer the minchah and afterwards THE PRIEST WILL HAVE THE WOMEN DRINK THE WATERS AND HE SHALL HAVE THE WOMAN DRINK and if she has sinned.....

We have explained in our article Biblical Formatting located on the world wide web at, 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.

Verse Nu05-26:27a discussing the drinking of the bitter waters during the suspected-adulteress wife ceremony states And the priest shall take a handful of the offering, its memorial, and burn it upon the altar, and afterward he shall have the woman drink the water. And he shall have her drink the water, then it shall come to pass, that, if she is defiled, and has trespassed against her husband, that the water that causes the curse shall enter into her, and become bitter, and her belly shall swell, and her thigh shall fall; and the woman shall be a curse among her people. The repeated underlined word phrase he shall have her drink the water indicates an unspecified emphasis. Rashi translates this unspecified emphasis as he will instruct her to drink the water and even if she doesn't want to will force her to drink the water. That is Rashi translates the verse as follows: and afterwords he shall have the woman drink the water and if she had been defiled.. In other words The next step is for the woman to drink the water which he will force her to do if she doesn't voluntarily participate.

Advanced Rashi: Rashi also notes that ...however if she confesses she needn't drink the water nor be forced to drink the water. Rashi derives this from the purpose for drinking the water explicitly stated in the verse: ...and if she has sinned....then the bitter waters will come into her.....and she shall be a curse throughout her nation....but if she has not defiled herself.... This stated reason supports the idea that the sole purpose for drinking the water - whether voluntarily or through force - was to ascertain whether she commited adultery. Hence if she confesses she need not drink.

      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 Nu05-09a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: Most priestly gifts were BROUGHT TO GOD or BELONGED TO THE PRIEST The first fruits was a priestly gift that was BROUGHT and to the PRIEST.

We ask the following database query: To whom are Priestly gifts delivered and how are they delivered? 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: The Biblical language describing many priestly gifts uses the phrases brought to God or belongs to the Priest. The first fruits were however brought to the Priest in the temple. Hence Nu05-09 should be translated as A priestly gift [ Terumah] brought to the Priest belongs to him. Since first fruits are the only priestly gift brought to the priest we apply this verse to first fruits. The list below presents the results of the database query and shows examples

Verse Priestly Gift Delivered to God/Priest? Brought/Belongs?
Nu18-09:10 Sin, Guilt and Minchah Offerings To God Brought (to God)
Nu18-15:18 Offered first borns To God Brought to God
Lv27-28 Excommunication-dedications (Cherem) To God Belongs to God
Nu18-28 Big Terumah To Priest Given to Priest
Dt26-01:04 First Fruits To Priest in Temple Brought to him

      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 Nu06-21a Nu06-21b
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: (Nu06-21) According to his vow BESIDES the (standard) requirements. RASHI: He can ADD to standard requirements but NOT DIMINISH.

Verse Nu06-21a,b discussing the offerings of the Nazaarite states This is the rule of the Nazaarite who has vowed, and of his offering to the Lord for his separation, besides that which his means allow; according to the vow which he vowed, so he must do after the Torah of his separation. Rashi illustrates this verse with numerical examples.

  • Case of no extra vow: If the Nazaarite only vowed to become a Nazaarite then he brings the standard Nazaarite offering (a lamb, female lamb, ram, matzoh basket, wafer and cakes)
  • Case of vow for more: If he for example vowed to become a Nazaarite on condition of bringing 100 up,sin and peace offerings then as indicated by the underlined words in the verse the Nazaarite brings both the standard Nazaarite offering and additionally brings the 100 peace, up, and sin offerings. So in total he brings 101 up,sin and peace offerings.
  • Case of vow for less: If he for example vows 5 Nazzariteships on condition to bring these 3 animals (lamb, female lamb, ram) then his vow is not valid. Instead he must bring a full standard Nazaarite offering, 5 sets of three animals (not one set as he vowed)

Because this Rashi clarifies the Biblical text with numerical examples we have classified it as a spreadsheet submethod of the non verse method.

      BRIEF EXPLANATION: Rashi provides symbolic interpretations of words, verses, and chapters. Rashi can symbolically interpret either
      • (10a) entire Biblical chapters such as the gifts of the princes, Nu-07
      • (10b) individual items, verses and words
      The rules governing symbolism and symbolic interpretation are presented in detail on my website.

      This examples applies to Rashis Nu07-19b:f Nu07-20a:c
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: The prince gifts for the consecration of the Temple symbolized human history

Very often a symbolic interpretation will use a single motif to explain a variety of items and procedures. In the example below we symbolically interpret the prince gifts presented when the Temple was consecrated. The single motif used is the important events in human history leading up to the giving of the Torah. This motif is used to symbolically interpret the prince gifts, brought at the consecration of the Temple. These gifts as a whole symbolize the progression of important events in human history leading to the giving of the Torah. The Table below gives details.

Rashi Item Symbolizes Symbolic association Is association strong?
Nu07-19b 1 Silver Bowl Adam One father of human race No
Nu07-19c Weight of 130 Age Adam began producing Numerical association Yes
Nu07-19d 1 Bowl Noah 1 Ark No
Nu07-19e weight 70 70 nations 70 grandchildren of Noah Yes - numerical
Nu07-20a 1 scoop 1 Torah No
Nu07-20b weight of 10 golden 10 commandments Numerical association Strong
Nu07-20c Incense Sweet offerings and sweet laws Weak

Advanced Rashi: We have not reviewed all the prince gifts. Also at times we have deviated from Rashi's associations which use numerical values of letters (There is nothing wrong with this in a symbolic context but we preferred to give the strongest associations). As the table shows there is a natural historical sequence from the beginning of human history, Adam, till the reception of the Torah. Some of the numerical associations are quite strong based on numerical identity. The other associations can then be justified in context because they fill in the gaps in the missing sequence.


This week's parshah contains examples of all the Rashi methods. Visit the RashiYomi website at and for further details and examples.