The 10 RashiYomi Rules
Their presence in Rashis on Parshat Pinchas
Volume 12, Number 24
Rashi is Simple - Volume 35 Number 24

Used in the weekly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
Visit the RashiYomi website:
(c) RashiYomi Incorporated, Dr. Hendel, President,
July 10th, 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 Nu21-27b
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: JOSHUA SHALL ASK (FROM ELAZAR) USING THE URIM & TUMIM (Nu27-21), references e.g. 1S30-07:08 and Ex28-06:30: prophetically inquiring from URIM & TUMIM during military maneuvers.

Verse Nu21-27b Nu21-27c discussing Joshua's seeking advice from Elazar using Urim and Tumim states And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask for him according to the judgment of Urim before the Lord; at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the people of Israel with him, all the congregation Rashi notes that the underlined words, ask for him ... urim references verses 1S30-07:08 and Ex28-06:30 discussing an inquiry by David thru the Urim whether a military maneuver will be successful Hence the Rashi comment Joshua shall ask [from the Urim by Elazar] when Joshua wishes to go to war

Text of Target Verse Nu21-27b Text of Reference Verse 1S30-07:08, Ex28-06:30
And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask for him according to the judgment of Urim before the Lord; at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the people of Israel with him, all the congregation . And David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, I beg you, bring me here the ephod. And Abiathar brought there the ephod to David. And David inquired at the Lord, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them? And he answered him, Pursue; for you shall surely overtake them, and without fail recover all. they shall make the ephod of gold, .... And you shall make the breastplate of judgment with skilful work; after the work of the ephod you shall make it; of gold,... .... And they shall bind the breastplate by its rings to the rings of the ephod with a lace of blue, .... And you shall put in the breastplate of judgment, the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be upon Aaron’s heart, when he goes in before the Lord; ...
Rashi comments: Joshua shall ask [from the Urim by Elazar] when Joshua wishes to go to war

Advanced Rashi: Note that we could have equally brought other verses for reference: For example, Ju20-27:28 also gives an example of inquiry thru the Urim about the propriety of a military action.

    Also note that this refernce example is complex in that the reference is sequential:
  • Nu21-27 speaks about asking from the Urim
  • Ex28-06:30 explains how the urim are on the breastplate and
  • The breastplate is connected by a cord to the
  • Ephod garment
  • And that is exactly what David inquires from in 1S30-07:08 from the Ephod.

Finally I note the oddity that many history, military and political books seem to have overlooked the importance of organized religion in general and the priests in particular in determining and even allowing military action. There are many examples. We find in the Talmud / Midrash for example that a priest stopped Alexander the Great from attacking. Similarly the holiday of Chanukah is a holiday about Priestly military activities. The Bible relates that a prophet stopped a civil war when the monarchy split in two after Solomon's death. Military records show that many generals, even those from non religious nations, have sought religious confirmation of their planned activities.

      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 Nu28-02e
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: PROFESSIONALLY WATCH the daily offering (Nu28-02) The Rabbis instituted Professional Societies of Lay Israelites who prayed simultaneously with the morning offering.

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 I advocate enriching the Rashi explanation using a technique of parallel nifty translations in modern English. Today's examples show this.

    The Heberw Biblical root Shin-Mem-Resh has a fundamental meaning of watching. Hence this Biblical root can mean
  • to guard
  • prisons and prison guards [ prisons are places where you are watched; guards are people who watch; ]
  • night watch periods [ watch periods are time periods when guards must be on duty. ]
  • be cautious [ cf. the English, watch yourself ]
  • thorns [ items to be cautious, to watch yourself, from ]
  • wine dregs [ items to be cautious, to watch yourself, from, when drinking and having a good time ]
  • professional standards [ guidelines of caution designed to watch, guard and maintain a standard ]
  • eyebrows [ eyebrows watch the eyes ]
  • strong rock, harder than stone [ a strong rock appears to have been watched from all softening forces ]

Applying the above translation to Nu28-02 discussing the offering of the daily offering we obtain Command the children of Israel, and say unto them: My food which is presented unto Me for offerings made by fire, of a sweet savour unto Me: professionally standardize to offer it unto Me in its due season.

Advanced Rashi: Hence the Rashi comment: From this Biblical requirement of professional standardazation the Rabbis based the institution of the Standers groups of lay Israelites who would stand and pray in their synagogues simultaneously with the offering of the daily sacrifice. These Standers helped standardize and watch the institution of the daily offering since a wider spectrum of Jews knew of the offering by virtue of the representatives in their community.

      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 Nu28-15c
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: ....and a goat for a sin offering besides the daily offering and its [the daily offering's] libations

Today Hebrew grammar is well understood and there are many books on it. Rashi, however, lived before the age of grammar books. A major Rashi method is therefore the teaching of basic grammar.

Many students belittle this aspect of Rashi. They erroneously think that because of modern methods we know more. However Rashi will frequently focus on rare grammatical points not covered in conventional textbooks.

    There are many classical aspects to grammar whether in Hebrew or other languages. They include
  • The rules for conjugating verbs. These rules govern how you differentiate person, plurality, tense, mode, gender, mood, and designation of the objects and indirect objects of the verb. For example how do you conjugate, in any language, I sang, we will sing, we wish to sing, she sang it.
  • Rules of agreement. For example agreement of subject and verb, of noun and adjective; whether agreement in gender or plurality.
  • Rules of Pronoun reference.
  • Rules of word sequence. This is a beautiful topic which is not always covered in classical grammatical textbooks.

Today we study a Rashi based on a simple grammatical rule: pronoun reference. In English the rule is that the pronoun must refer to the nearest noun. But in the Bible the rule is that the pronoun refers to the most logical antecedent. This Biblical rule appears somewhat strange to English speakers and they must acclimate to it. Let us apply it to Nu28-15c:

Verse Nu28-15c discussing the requirement to offer a sin offering states And one he-goat for a sin-offering unto HaShem; it shall be offered beside the daily day-offering, and its [the daily up offering] libations The pronouns its libations could refer to either of the underlined nouns: the daily day offering or the sin offering. Rashi explains But based on Nu15 only up- and peace- offerings have libations. Sin offerings don't have libations. Hence the pronoun its refers to the libations of the daily up offering. Here we see Rashi using the Biblical rule of most logical antecedent to justify his conclusion.

    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 Nu28-02f
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: a) My sacrifice ...Offer to Me IN ITS TIME b) This is the fire...offer to God....TWO PER DAY RASHI: The TIME of the daily offering is every day.

The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Nu28-02:03 Both verses/verselets discuss the requirement to offer a daily offering. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: The phrase in its appointed season aligns with twice a day justifying the inference that the appointed season of this sacrifice is daily. Hence we call it the daily offering.

Verse Text of Verse Rashi comment
  1. Command the Jews and tell them
  2. my sacrifice, my bread, dedicated for my fires, my sweet savior: Watch it
  3. to offer it
  4. to me
  5. in its appointed season.
The phrase in its appointed season aligns with twice a day justifying the inference that the appointed season of this sacrifice is daily. Hence we call it the daily offering
  1. And tell them
  2. This is the fire that you should
  3. offer
  4. to God,
  5. new-born lambs two per day a perpetual up offering

Advanced Rashi: Most alignments create their inferences by exposing two cases or nuances especially nuances hinted at by silences and omissions. Today we explored an alignment that makes inferences on meaning based on aligned phrases.

      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 examples applies to Rashis Nu27-23a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: God said PLACE YOUR HAND but Moses PLACED BOTH HANDS on Joshua to inaugurate him, showing Moses generous spirit.

The table below presents two contradictory verses. Both verses talk about the hand-placement inauguration ceremony of Joshua. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says God ordered Moses to place his hand on Joshua for the inauguration. while the other verse says Moses placed both his hands on Joshua for inauguration. Which is it? Was one or two hands suppose to be placed on Joshua. Rashi simply resolves this using the broad-literal method: The literal requirement was for Moses to place one hand on Joshua for the inauguration. This symbolized delegation and transfer of responsibility. However symbolically Moses did not have to give Joshua his full powers. Moses then interpreted God's order broadly. He placed both hands on Joshua during the inauguration cermemony symbolizing not only a transfer and delegation of responsibility but best wishes for a full and generous giving over of all his powers.

Summary Verse / Source Text of verse / Source
One-hand placement for inauguration Nu27-18 And the Lord said to Moses, Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is spirit, and lay your hand upon him;
Moses placed both hands Nu27-23 And he laid his hands upon him, and gave him a charge, as the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses.
Resolution: broad-literal The literal requirement was for Moses to place one hand on Joshua for the inauguration. This symbolized delegation and transfer of responsibility. However symbolically Moses did not have to give Joshua his full powers. Moses then interpreted God's order broadly. He placed both hands on Joshua during the inauguration cermemony symbolizing not only a transfer and delegation of responsibility but a full and generous giving over of all his powers and capacities.

    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 Nu29-36a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: The ecstasy of post-Yom-Kippur forgiveness leads to a great feast on the first day of Sukkoth. The ecstasy gradually returns to normalacy. Human relations are similar.

Certain Biblical paragraphs are stated in an example form. In other words an example of a law is stated rather than the full general rule. The reader's task is to generalize the example. The idea that all Biblical laws should be perceived as examples (unless otherwise indicated) is explicitly stated by Rashi (Pesachim 6.). This is a rule of style since the rule requires that a text be perceived as an example rather than interpreted literally. The Rabbi Ishmael style rules govern the interpretation of style.

Verses Nu29-12:39 discussing the offerings brought on each of the 8 days of Succoth-Shmini-Azereth states And on the fifteenth day of the seventh month you shall ... And you shall offer a burnt offering, thirteen young bulls,.... And on the second day you shall offer twelve young bulls,... And on the third day eleven bulls, ... And on the fourth day ten bulls, ... And on the fifth day nine bulls, ... And on the sixth day eight bulls, ... And on the seventh day seven bulls, .... On the eighth day... But you shall offer one bull, one ram, .... Rashi commenting on the underlined phrases states: Immediately after the forgiveness of Yom Kippur we are in ecstasy and offer 14 bulls. As the holiday progresses we offer 13,12,11...,7, until on the last day we offer 1. This ecstasy with a graduated decrease to normalacy is a prototype for all interpersonal occasions of happiness (Both between God and man and between man and man) - On a happy occasion we should always start celebrations big and gradually return to normalacy.

      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 Nu28-14c
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: This is the MONTHLY-OFFERING IN ITS MONTH Rashi: Every month is unique; no makeups for skipped months

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 Nu28-14c discussing the monthly offering states And their drink offerings shall be half a hin of wine for a bull, and the third part of a hin for a ram, and a fourth part of a hin for a lamb; this is the monthly burnt offering in its month throughout the months of the year. The repeated (actually triplicated!) underlined word phrase month month month indicates an unspecified emphasis. Rashi translates this unspecified emphasis as monthly offering but only in its month That is Rashi translates the verse as follows: And their drink offerings shall be half a hin of wine for a bull, and the third part of a hin for a ram, and a fourth part of a hin for a lamb; this is the monthly burnt offering unique to its month throughout the months of the year. In other words Every month has a unique offering. Consequently, if you accidentally skipped a monthly offering you cannot make it up by offering two monthly offerings next month.

Advanced Rashi: This Rashi has a moral message for people involved in projects. The message is a sacrificial symbolic affirmation of the law of lost time. If you have a project - secular, religious, investment, personal, health related - and that project is moving forward with energy then if you lose a day perhaps you can make it up but if you take a vacation for a month you lose that month. You can't make up that month in the coming month. The month is lost. This is an important principle. You can celebrate and take your vacation between projects but not during them. Hence the Biblical verse/Rashi: The up offering of each month in its unique month

      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 Nu25-11a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: Pinchas, son of Elazar, son of AARON THE PRIEST: Rashi: He was a priest even though his maternal grandfather was a former idolater.

Today we ask the database query: What is the normal way to reference a person's name and ancestors? The reader is encouraged to perform the query using a standard Biblical Konnkordance or search engine. These database queries yield the list below. The list justifies the following Rashi inference: 1) Normal genealogies typically have 2 generations (e.g. X son of Y). 2) When more genealogies are given there is emphasis. The list below presents the results of the database query and show examples

Verse Text of verse # Genealogies Reason for deviance
Nu13-04 Shamua son of Zaccur 2 NA
Nu13-05 Shafat son of Chori 2 NA
Nu01-05 EliZur son of Shdayur 2 NA
Nu01-06 Shlumiel son of ZuriShaddai 2 NA
Nu25-11 Pinchas, son of Elazar, son of Aaron the Priest 3 Pinchas was a priest even though his maternal grandfather was a former idolater
Nu16-01 Korach, son of Yitzhar, son Kehath, son of Levi 4 Korach's genealogy does not go to Jacob but only to Levi. Because he was a disgrace to his Jewish ancestry, the name of Jacob, the Patriarchal founder of the Jews, is omitted.

Advanced Rashi: There are less than a 100 examples of generalogies with more than 2 names in the Bible. In the Torah there are only 3 (The 3rd is Zelaphchad's daughters). This is certainly a rich hunting ground for those eager to do a Midrashic project.

    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 Nu26-36a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: There was not a 1-1 correspondence between each grandchild's child of Jacob and Jewish subtribes. Only those worthy became subtribes.

People have a naive approach to tribes and subtribes. We use a genealogical model, forgetting that our religion is not tribal! The model should properly have a dimension of merit! Jews were never tribal and Judaism certainly isn't.

There are three proofs to seeing merit as well as genealogy in the Jewish Biblical tribal model. First we have the explicit statement of Jacob, Gn48-05:06, that And now your two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you to Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine. And your issue, born to you after them, shall be yours, and shall be called after the name of their brothers in their inheritance. So we have an explicit statement that 2 grandchildren, Ephraim and Menasseh, will have equal trible status to the children. That is Reuben, Jacob's son formed one Israeli tribe and similarly, Ephraim, Jacob's grandson,formed one Israeli tribe.

The verse further says that the rest of Joseph's children belong to the tribes of Ephraim and Menassheh. Commentators have overlooked this. It is a mistake to think Joseph had only 2 children. Indeed a famous Rashi says that all Jews had sextuplets (In this email list we have interpreted this to mean many children, not necessarily exactly six). So where were Joseph's other 4 children! The truth is we don't know their names but they were certainly there. The real point is that Joseph had many children, two of which were worthy of being tribes. Here, directly from Jacob's order, we have the first instance of a tribal system based on genealogy and merit.

A second proof can be found in Judah's children. Gn46-12 states And the sons of Judah; Er, and Onan, and Shelah, and Perez, and Zarah; but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan. And the sons of Perez were Hezron and Hamul. Here we have grandchildren - Hezron, Hamul - taking a subtribe status equal to that of children. This is confirmed in the census in Numbers, Nu26-19:22, where Hezron, Hamul are given subtribe status.

But Rashi is pedagog par excellence! Rashi does not make his punchline on Ephraim and Menasshe since Jacob explicitly declared it. He also does not make his punchline by Judah since two of Judah's sons died suggesting that a replacement must be necessary. Instead Rashi waits for a verse with no excuses. Nu26-36 discussing the subtribes of Menassheh states And these are the sons of Shuthelah; from Eran, the family of the Eranites. Now does anyone really think that in a nation where everyone had sextuplets, Shuthelah had only one son. But the truth is as Rashi says Shuthelah's other children were censused under Shuthelah. But one of Shuthelah's children, Eran, was distinguished and merited to form their own subtribe. Here we have the explicit statement that the assumed equation one child = one (sub)tribe is not true. Rather the accurate principle is Tribality was based on two dimensions of genealogy and merit. From among the children those that merited became subtribes. In this way Judaism preserved its non-tribal nature as a religion based on personal merit.

Advanced Rashi: In translating this Rashi I am translating Ravah as distinguished rather than many. In other words I am not translating Rashi as Eran was a big family so they made him his own tribe (Sort of like making a big block their own zip code for operational convenience). Rather I am translating Eran was a distinguished family. This translation is consistent with the other precedents I mentioned above. If one chooses to translate Ravah as many the above explanation would still hold since it is based on Jacob's explicit statement, other precedents such as that of Judah, and the reasonable assumption that families did not have just 1 or 2 children.

I also point out that Judaism uses the merit-genealogy approach with the selection of the High Priest. From among the High Priest's children we take the one most meritorious for the successor (Not necessarily the oldest).

I believe the ideas enunciated here are of extreme importance to Jewish philosophy and contradict the often cited tribal approach to Judaim.

Note: Since this rule elucidates how to trace the relationship between children and tribes we have called it non-verse since, dealing with enumeration, it resembles a spreadsheet method.

Acknowledgement: When the youngest of my sisters was in High School she asked me If everyone had sextuplets why do we only know 3 of Amram's children- Moses, Aaron, Miriam. I answered that Perhaps the others were not as famous. I believe the above Rashi places a context by which to understand the distinction between distinguished and ordinary children. This distinction affects tribality and apparently other matters also.

      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 Nu29-35a Nu29-36a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: After Yom Kippur there is a feast sacrifice of 14 oxen... But on the last Day of Holding Back (Shmini Atzeret) we have a small intimate feast of One Ox

Verses Nu29-12:39 present the Succoth holiday offering. The opening verses of Nu29-01:11 speak about the sacrifices for the Day of Atonement. We emerged from that day, cleansed, sparkling in white purity. We then joyously jump into the Succoth holiday. The first day boasts of 14 oxen, a joyous occasion. The festivities continue for 7 days with multiple oxen, rams and lambs.

  • The Bible calls the eight day, Shemini Atzereth, The Day of Holding Back for you (Nu29-35.)
  • The sacrifices on that day are only 1 ox, 1 ram, 7 lambs. There is an emphasis on smallness.

Rashi presents a symbolic analogy. A person went to his father-in-law right after his wedding. His in-laws made him a big feast. At the end the person wanted to depart. His father-in-law said Please stay one more day - lets just have a small intimate meal - just the two of us, your family and mine. So Rashi interprets the Day of Holding Back for you as a day of intimacy between God and Israel. Similarly Rashi interrpets the contrast 1 ox on the eigth day vs. many oxen on early days as intimacy vs public feasting.

We can take a Rashi a step further (as he himself does). The actual sacrifices are 1 oxen, 1 ram but 7 sheep. Here Oxen and Rams symbolize leaders while sheep symbolize social animals and followers. So the symbolic message seems to be that We are alone with God on the eight day - we have one leader (no political subjugation) and God has his flock of social sheep the way we were in Egypt.

Although the above is clear we make explicit the conceptual component of the symbolism: 1 vs 14, symbolizes smallness and intimacy vs manyness.


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