Their presence in Rashis on Parshat BeHaaLoTheChaH Volume 12, Number 20
Rashi is Simple - Volume 35 Number 20
Used in the weekly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
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June 11th, 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 Nu11-17 discussing God's transference of Moses' prophetic ability to the 70 chosen elders states And I will come down and talk with you there; and I will take of the spirit which is upon you, and will put it upon them; and they shall carry the burden of the people with you, so that you don't carry the nation's burden yourself. Rashi notes that the underlined words, you carry the nation's burden yourself references verses Nu11-14 discussing Moses' complaint that the nation was too much of a burden for him to bear. Hence the Rashi comment God's statement in Nu11-17 so that you carry the nation's burden yourself references and directly responds to Moses' request to God I can't bear, by myself, to bear this entire nation.
Using the above principles we can explain the varied meanings of Aleph-Tzade-Lamed.
Aleph-Tzade-Lamed means near. This uses the metonomy prinicple. An objects shade is a good example of nearness. Here we have identified Aleph-Tzade-Lamed with Tzade-Lamed, shade, and have not given special emphasis to the aleph (though it is easy to work it in).
Aleph-Tzade-Lamed means protective people, leaders. Here we can use both meaning principles explained above. A good example of a protective person is a person (Aleph) who provides shade (Tzade-Lamed.)
Aleph-Tzade-Lamed also means big-armed. Here again we use metonomy.Big armed people are good examples of protective people.
In Nu11-17c God promises to take some, but not all, of Moses' prophetic spirit and give it to the 70 chosen elders. We can metaphorically refer to this partial giving as shading. This is a coined term - the shade/shadow resembles the original object but is only a partial replica of it. Here too we have metonomy.
We would therefore translate Nu11-16:17c as follows: Select 70 people...and I will come down and speak to you and shade from your prophetic capacity on them so that they can help out with running the nation. Such a translation, although coined, has a nice ring even in English.
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 Nu11-25a discussing the 70 elders that Moses selected and their prophetic experience states And the Lord came down in a cloud, and spoke to him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it to the seventy elders; and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied [that day] but did not repeat... Rashi translates the Biblical word Yud-Samech-Pay-Vav, YaSaFoo as coming from the Biblical root Yud-Samech-Pay which means to do more / extra / repeat. . 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 5 in the Ibn Shoshan dictionary for the active mode (Qal).
Advanced Rashi: Rashi also brings down the opinion of the Aramaic translation that the word Yud-Samech-Pay-Vav, YaSaFoo means they did not cease to prophesy. The Aramaic translation views the root of this word as Samech-Vav-Pay which means to end. To study the possibility of the Aramaic translation based on an alternate 3 letter root I used Moshe Silberman's Grammatical Konkordance. Form 5586, with 14 subforms, has the punctuation, kamatz-kamatz-maalfoom. All 14 forms refer to the past Qal and none of them use a 3 letter root with a middle letter vav (1-vav-3). This justifys Rashi's first approach that the true root is Yud-Samech-Vav; thus the verse means they did not have extra or more prophecy. We must therefore reject the Aramaic translation. Rashi at times proves the Aramaic translation is grammatically incorrect and our observations are consistent with this approach.
The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Gn06-09, Nu07-01 Both verses/verselets discuss Noach's greatness. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: (A) You state the full praise of a person behind his back. (B) However in a person's presence you only state partial phrase. We infer this from the contrast that behind his back Noach was called (1)a man (2) righteous, (3) perfect, (4) walking before God while to his face Noach was only called (2) righteous and (4) before God. In a similar manner God called Moses, Aaron and Miriam when Aaron and Miriam complained about Moses' behavior but God only fully praised Moses to Aaron and Miriam.
The table below presents presents two contradictory verses. Both verses talk about the number of Jews that left Egypt. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says 600,000 Jews left while the other verse says 603,550 Which is it? Did 600,000 people leave or did 603,550 leave? Rashi simply resolves this in two ways: One using the 2 Aspects method and one using the broad-literal method. We present two solutions. Solution 1: 600,000 is a legitimate approximation for 603,550 [Support for this solution may be found in Ex12-37 which explicitly says that the 600,000 is approximate!]. Solution 2: The 600,000 men who left Egypt complained. The 3,550 people who became adults (reached age 20) since leaving Egypt did not complain.
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 and consequently the law or narrative statement only applies to the enumerated details but not to other cases. Today's example illustrates this as shown below.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi actually states They simply fabricated claims; for example even though they left Egypt with alot of cattle (Ex12-38) and even though when they entered Israel they had alot of cattle (Nu32-01) they fabricated and said who will give us meat.
Rashi appears to be using the contradiction method since the verses stating that the Jews had cattle contradicts their statement who will give us meat? However the preceding verse also says They fabricated desires. The verb for desire is in the Hitpael mode. There is a 4 way controversy on what the hitpael mode is used for. In this email list we have adopted the position that hitpael means interactive. The statement they interactively desired could be interpreted to mean they fabricated desire, that is they interacted with whomever they were talking; even if they had what to eat they claimed they had desires.
On a psychological level we need not interpret this maliciously. We can interpret this in terms of standard paranoia of slaves. The slave may have everything (s)he needs but because of lack of ownership the slave paranoically worries that they may be lacking. Such a paranoic worry leads to fabricating desires that are not there: I need more meat because tomorrow I may not have.
The exploration of the paranoic feelings of the Jews who left Egypt is a well known psychological theme and is used to explain certain tragedies and sins that happened in the desert.
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 paragraph formatting using specific textual methods.
For example 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.
Similarly a modern author who wished to indicate emphasis would use underline, bold or italics. The Biblical Author would use repetition. The important thing to emphasize is that the Biblical listener understood the repetition the same way the modern listener understands underline: as a request for unspecified emphasis.
Today we explore how the Biblical Author indicated footnotes.
First we cite the passage Nu11-04:11 in modern format: And the mixed multitude that was among them had a strong craving; and ... wept ... and said, Who shall give us meat? We remember the fish, which we ate in Egypt ... But now our soul is dried away; there is nothing at all, beside this manna....1 Then Moses heard the people weep throughout their families, .... and the anger of the Lord was kindled greatly; ... And Moses said to the Lord, Why have you afflicted your servant? ....
Footnotes: 1: But the manna was as coriander seed, and its color as the color of bdellium. And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it; and the taste of it was like the taste of fresh oil. And when the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell upon it.
The purpose of the footnote is to give contrastive background material. The people were complaining about the Manna but in fact the Manna was pretty, tasty, and flexible in variety of taste. This footnote shows that the complaint of the Jews was not legitimate. However if the footnote were in the main text it would intefer with the smooth flow of the main story and therefore a modern author places this background contrastive material in a footnote.
The Biblical author indicates the footnote by repeating a noun instead of using a pronoun. Such a repetition makes the footnote passage distant. Here is the actual Biblical text: And the mixed multitude that was among them had a strong craving; and ... wept ... and said, Who shall give us meat? We remember the fish, which we ate in Egypt ... But now our soul is dried away; there is nothing at all, beside this manna....1 1: But the manna was as coriander seed, and its color as the color of bdellium. And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it; and the taste of it was like the taste of fresh oil. And when the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell upon it. Then Moses heard the people weep throughout their families, .... and the anger of the Lord was kindled greatly; ... And Moses said to the Lord, Why have you afflicted your servant? ...
Rashi comments on the footnote structure: [Do you see the repeated underlined word manna, even though a pronoun would be sufficient.] This shows that the two passages were said by different authors - one was said by the Jews and the other by God. God's statement contrasts the Jewish complaint and shows it unfounded.
We ask the following database query: How long - how many words - are in each of Moses' prayers. 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: Of all Moses' prayers, his prayer for his sister's recovery was the smallest - 5 words. It is reasonable to conjecture that Moses, as a public figure, did not want to create a situation where the public could point a finger at him and argue that he was spending excessive time on personal matters (prayers for his sister) and less time on communal matters. The list below presents the results of the database query and shows examples
Advanced Rashi: We have emphasized several times in this email newsletter that frequently Rashi will indicate only one conclusion of application of a Rashi method and the student must complement Rashi by applying the method fully and making further conclusions. As can be seen from the above table, prayers for Jewish welfare were significantly long. We also see Rashi's point that the prayer for his sister's recovery was short. But we find additional commentary. We find that Moses' prayer complaints were also short. Such discoveries are fully consistent with the reading and learning of Rashi and enhance the Rashi learning experience. In fairness to Rashi we note that there is one complaint (prayer for death) that took 64 words - perhaps Moses was unusually upset there!
We also point out that our count was not an absolute count of all words but a count of hyphenated words (So each hyphenated word has a count of 1 even if several words were involved in the hyphenated pair).
Finally we note that this Rashi has a modern flavor. Modern journal studies frequently study a domain of discoure - such as Moses' prayers - by computing attributes of forms such as word length. Because word length is objective such studies frequently uncover meaningful commentary. It is interesting that Rashi was aware of this very modern technique.
Biblical verse Nu12-04 states And the Lord spoke suddenly to Moses, and to Aaron, and to Miriam, Come out you three to the Tent of Meeting. And the three came out. However verses Nu12-06:08 identify prophecy not as a physical voice in the real world but rather as a voice speaking within the prophet -- the prophet hears internally. And he said, Hear now my words; If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known to him in a vision, and will speak in him in a dream. Not so with my servant Moses, for he is the trusted one in all my house. With him I speak in him mouth to mouth, manifestly, and not in dark speech; and he behold the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?
Hence the Rashi: Each of the 3--Moses, Aaron, Miryam--heard within them, at the same time, a command from God for all 3 of them to assemble at the tent of meeting.
Rashi literally says The 3 of them heard the voice at one time. It would not be possible physically [using ordinary voice] to communicate simultaneously to 3 people in different locations.. We have clarified Rashi's explanation by citing Nu12-04:06 which emphasizes that prophetic communication happens within the person. This emphasis explains why Rashi had to clarify that the simultaneity could not have happened with ordindary voice.
We have classified this Rashi as a Spreadsheet Rashi. The verse says God spoke to the 3 of them and Rashi explains that God spoke to the 3 of them. Rashi does not address any issues of meaning, grammar, style,contradiction or alignment. Rather Rashi is explaining the physical process by which simultaneous communication can take place. Thus Rashi is simply clarifying physically how something took place. Any Rashi clarifying how is classified by us as a Spreadsheet Rashi. Typically Rashi will give geometric diagrams. However in this verse, Rashi explains how physically.
The Rav, Rabbi Joseph Baer Soloveitchick, citing the Rambam, stated a fundamental principle of Biblical exegesis--God personifies/symbolizes moral norms. In other words the sentence God did activity X symbolically means Activity X is highly moral activity.