Their presence in Rashis on Parshat VaEthChaNaN Volume 13, Number 2
Rashi is Simple - Volume 36 Number 2
Used in the weekly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
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July 23 rd, 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 Dt04-34f discussing the classes of miracles by which God brought us out of Egypt states Or hath G-d assayed to go and take Him a nation from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by an outstretched arm, and by great terrors, according to all that HaShem your G-d did for you in Egypt before thine eyes? Rashi notes that the underlined words, by war references verses Ex14-25 discussing the battle of God against the Egyptians by the Sea of Reeds Hence the Rashi comment The textual statement ...has a God...taken one nation out of another...by war at Dt04-34 refers to the explicit statement in Ex14-25 where the Egyptians admit ..for God wars for them against Egypt.
Advanced Rashi: Note, Rashi does not explicitly cite Ex14-25 but simply adds to the textual phrase God fights for them the explanatory comment in Egypt. We believe our addition of an explicit scriptural reference is consistent with and enhances the Rashi comment.
An idiom is a collection of words which means more than the sum of the meanings of each of the phrases' individual words. Verse Dt04-38b discussing the sin and punishment of the Jews states To drive out from your presence nations greater and mightier than you are, to bring you in, to give you their land for an inheritance, in broad daylight [literally: as this day] Rashi explains: The phrase(s) as this day is an idiom meaning in broad daylight, or, as clear as day. As can be seen from the underlined words the Rashi comment is compactly and explicitly combined in the Biblical text.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi literally says that the idiom means clear as day. However, in light of the English idiom in broad daylight connoting something well known and without opposition, I thought it better to use this English idiom in the Rashi translation.
Today only basic 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.
Today we study a rule common in many languages dealing with omission of words in a sentence. The technical term to describe such matters is ellipsis.
Hence Rashi translates Dt01-23b as follows: Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of HaShem your G-d, which He made with you, and make you a graven image, even the likeness of any thing which HaShem thy G-d hath commanded you [not to do] In other words the literal text which God has commanded you does not make sense since God did not command to make idols. One way of remedying our understandding of the text is to add the words concerning so that the entire text would read concerning which God has commanded you Rashi provides an alternative remedy and reads the text which HaShem thy G-d hath commanded you [not to do].
We have chosen to approach this Rashi as grammarical instead of as contradiction since the contradiction is resolved through interpretation of the underlying sentence as elliptical and ellipsis is common in many languages.
The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Dt04-06b Both verses/verselets discuss the requirement to observe the commandments. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: The primary effect of the Sinaitic revelation is the commandment to observe. But observance itself requires safeguarding the commandments you observe. One safeguards the commandments by professionally standardizing them; these standards are called fences in Rabbinic law. For example the Bible commanded to recite the Shma in the evening. Rabbinic law standardizes this practice so that it must be recited before midnight (otherwise people would fall asleep and miss the recital of the Shma.).
Advanced Rashi: Another approach to this Rashi is the understanding of the meaning of the Hebrew root, Shin Mem Resh. We can show that in the Bible Shin Mem Resh refers to professional obligations and/or to professional standards. If you think about it a little bit, professional standards simply means fences preventing violation.
The table below presents two contradictory verses. Both verses talk about idolatry. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says Idolatry is severely prohibited, while the other verse says the idolatrous celestial beings were apportioned to the nations! Which is it? Is idolatry prohibited to the nations or is it given/apportioned to them? Rashi simply resolves this using the Broad-Literal method: Idolatry is prohibited. But God apportioned great forces to the nations of the world. If they willfully ignore God's commands and worship them God does not intefer since He tests people by allowing them to sin. This aspect of God as someone who tests man and allows him to conquer or acquiesce to sin is explicitly stated in Dt13-02:04. So in summary the statement that God apportioned these to the non-Jews can be interpreted literally - He apportioned their power for non Jews to harvest - or broadly - He apportioned them to test non Jews and let them worship idols and fail.
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. Today's example illustrates this.
Rashi's sole purpose of comment is to indicate that the underlined phrase Has there ever been such a great thing refers to a) the Divine revelation to an entire nation and b) the deliverance of an entire enslaved nation.
The climax principle asserts that a sequence of similar phrases should be interpreted climactically even if the words and grammatical constructs used do not directly suggest this. That is the fact of the sequence justifies reading into the Biblical text a climactic interpretation even if no other textual source justifies it. For this reason we consider the climax method a distinct and separate method.
Advanced Rashi: We make two points. First we have combined both interpretations of Rashi: a) the interpretation that muchness refers to money and b) the interpretation that muchness refers to all trials, successes and failures, of life.
Rashi notes the oddness that the climax ends with money. Rashi explicitly answers this For many people money is more important than their life. I think Rashi's point is that money is something you leave your heirs and therefore it is less distasteful to terminate your life if you have money to leave your heirs but if you have to lose your wealth you might not be willing to do so for the sake of religion. Note: This aspect of Rashi affects the way we analyze end-of-life issues since frequently a silent aspect of these decisions is that for example people are relunctant to fund non-conscious continuation of life.
We ask the following database query: Which commandments mention that they should be observed becauase 'you are to remember that God took you out of Egypt'? 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: Commemoration of the salvation from Egypt is emphasized as a reason for commandment observance in laws requiring a) equality b) ritual purity and c) no anxiety-business practices.
The list below presents the results of the database query. We first present in detail a typical verse. Verse Dt05-14a:15 discussing the obligation to treat slaves and orphans nicely states but the seventh day is a sabbath unto HaShem thy G-d, in it thou shalt not do any manner of work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy man-servant and thy maid-servant may rest as well as thou. And thou shalt remember that thou was a slave in the land of Egypt, and HaShem thy G-d brought thee out thence by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore HaShem thy G-d commanded thee to keep the sabbath day. As can be seen in this example, the Biblical obligation to let slaves/servants rest on the Sabbath is linked to remembering the Exodus. This linkage between the commandment and the exodus, which does not occur at all commandments, is made explicit here because the essence of Egypt consisted of a class society in which certain people were free and certain people were slaves. Consequently any commandment attacking class distinctions - such as the requirement to equally let owners and slaves rest on the Sabbath - will explicitly mention the Exodus. A full set of further examples if presented in the Table below.
Todays Rashi presents a map, a geographical description, of Israeli geography and the surrounding Biblical countries. The map is presented below and appropriate footnotes outline Rashi's comment. Because Rashi clarifies diagrammatic material we classify this Rashi as non-Verse.
=========================================================== MAP OF SOUTHERN BORDER OF ISRAEL AND SURROUNDING COUNTRIES =========================================================== ' | | ' | NORTH |----- ' | ISRAEL | | ' | | | Sichon, Og ' |W E | -------------- ' Pelishtim |E A | | | ' |S S | J | | ' |T T | O | | ' | | R | | ' | | D | MOAB | ' | ISRAEL | A | | ' | SOUTH | N | | ' | | | | ----------------------|-----------------| | ' | | | ' Egypt | Edom = Seir |------------- ' | | ' | | ' | | ' | | ' | |
Advanced Rashi: Here is another way of thinking about this. Rashi basically clarifies that in the case of two adjacent countries the western border of the eastmost country is the eastern border of the westmost countries.
This week's parshah does not contain examples of the symbolism Rashi method. Visit the RashiYomi website at http://www.Rashiyomi.com for further details and examples.