The 10 RashiYomi Rules
Their presence in Rashis on Parshat AyKeV
Volume 13, Number 3
Rashi is Simple - Volume 36 Number 3

Used in the weekly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
Visit the RashiYomi website: http://www.Rashiyomi.com/
(c) RashiYomi Incorporated, Dr. Hendel, President,
August 7th 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.

    1. RASHI METHOD: REFERENCES
    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 Dt10-08d
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1303.htm
    Brief Summary: (Dt10-08) The Priests were chosen to stand before God and BLESS IN HIS NAME refers to (Nu06-22:27) which contains the Priestly blessing to the nation.

Verse Dt10-08d discussing the function of the priests states At that time the Lord set apart the tribe of Levi, to carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to minister to him, and to bless in His name, to this day. Rashi notes that the underlined words, to bless in His name references verses Nu06-22:27 discussing the Priestly blessing. Hence the Rashi comment The textual statement that the Levite's purpose is to bless in his name stated at Dt10-08 references verses Nu06-22:27 which describes the requirement for the Priests, a subtribe of the Levites, to daily bless the people in the name of God.

Text of Target Verse Dt10-08d Text of Reference Verse Nu06-22:27
At that time the Lord set apart the tribe of Levi, to carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to minister to him, and to bless in his name, to this day. And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, On this wise you shall bless the people of Israel, saying to them, The Lord bless you, and keep you; The Lord make his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. And they shall put my name upon the people of Israel; and I will bless them
Rashi comments: The textual statement that the Levite's purpose is to bless in his name stated at Dt10-08 references verses Nu06-22:27 which describes the requirement for the Priests, a subtribe of the Levites, to daily bless the people in the name of God.

      2. RASHI METHOD: WORD MEANING
      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 Dt11-19a
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1303.htm Brief Summary: AMR=speak; DBR=cite; SNN=master; LMD=habituate; HABITUATE your children to have conversations on Torah

When Rashi uses the synonym method he does not explain the meaning of a word but rather the distinction between two similar words both of whose meanings we already know.

    The following Hebrew words all refer to communication and teaching.
  • Aleph-Mem-Resh, Amar, speak;
  • Daleth-Beth-Resh, Dbr, cite,
  • Nun-Gimel-Daleth, HaGid, tell,
  • Shin-Nun-Nun, VeShiNNaNTaM masters [ hear it till the matter is as sharp as a tooth (Shin-Nun); thoroughly digest the matter (Shin-Nun); ]
  • Lamed-Mem-Daleth, VeLiMMaDTem, habituate [ the Malmad was a needled wood which was used to habituate animals to a certain path by lightly tapping them ]

In our article Peshat and Derash: A New Intuitive and Logical Approach, which can be found on the world-wide-web at http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rashi.pdf we have advocated punchy translations of Biblical verses as a means of presenting Rashi comments. The following translation of verse Gn47-25c:26 embeds the Rashi translation VeLiMadTem means habituate. Habituate your children in them [in Torah laws] till their [conversation] citations are in them [whether] while in your house or while on the road or while preparing for sleep or while getting up.

Advanced Rashi: Just to recap lamad vs. shinun emphasizes habituation and integeration within the personality (rather than just mere expertise). Furthermore the verse emphasizes ...in order that their citations should be in them. Because of these two factors we feel that the proper translation is habituate them...to cite them in their daily conversations.

Here is a punchy way of illustrating the verse. If I sit down to a meal and someone gives a Torah thought we have not fulfilled the idea of habituation ...conversation. But if during the meal whenever someone wants to make a point they use a Talmudic or Biblical idiom then the conversations are habitually Torah. This examples shows the Torah ideal of learning. It is a process which engulfs the entire daily activities - it is not something external that you bring in on specific occasions.

      3. RASHI METHOD: GRAMMAR
      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 Dt11-12c
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1303.htm
      Brief Summary: God's providence is on Israel from Rosh Hashana (Jewish new year) to the year end.

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.

    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 rule common in many languages, the use of articles. In English the articles are a, the. In Hebrew a prefix letter hey indicates the article the. The article when used can indicate a proper noun.

    A consequence of this principle is that
  • Rayshith Shanah means the year beginning while
  • Rayshith hashanah uses the article the and hence indicates a proper noun, The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah.

We therefore translate Dt11-12c as follows: A land which the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are always upon it, from The Jewish New Year to the end of the year. Here Rashi translates the phrase with the article the as as proper noun, Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, but translates the phrase without the article as meaning the year end. From this translation we obtain in a straightforward manner the Rashi Israel is judged for rain each Rosh Hashanah for the entire year.

    4. RASHI METHOD: ALIGNMENT
    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 Dt11-21b
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1303.htm
    Brief Summary: a) I will give to YOU and to YOUR descendants this land b) The land I swore to give to THEM RASHI: The Patriarchs themselves will one day inherit Israel.

The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Dt11-21b, (Gn17-08 Gn26-03 Gn28-13. Both verses/verselets discuss the inheritance of Israel. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: All three Patriarchs were promised the land of Israel would be given to them and to their descendants. But in Dt11-21 God refers to the land promised to them. Hence the emphasis that not only will the Jewish people inherit Israel but the Patriarchs themselves will also so inherit (upon resurrection).

Verse Text of Verse Rashi comment
Dt11-21b That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give to them, as the days of heaven upon the earth. All three Patriarchs were promised the land of Israel would be given to them and to their descendants. But in Dt11-21 God refers to the land promised to them. Hence the emphasis that not only will the Jewish people inherit Israel but the Patriarchs themselves will also so inherit (upon resurrection).
Gn17-08, Gn26-03, Gn28-13 [summary paraphrase of all 3 verses] And I [God] will give to you and to your descendants ....the land of Canaan

Advanced Rashi: Another approach to this Rashi is through the format rule. If you inspect all three promises to the Patriarchs you will see a repetition of the repeating keyword to. The repetition of to in to you and to your descendants creates a bullet like effect emphasizing that both the Patriarchs themselves as well as their descendants will inherit Israel.

Note, traditional Rashi=ists would learn this Rashi from the emphasized phrase to you. But you by itself could mean the plural you and refer to your nation. However, Rashi is preferably learned by the emphasis indicated by the bullets or by the aligned contrast which emphasizes both you and your descendants.

      5. RASHI METHOD: CONTRADICTION
      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 Dt08-04a
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1303.htm
      Brief Summary: Your clothes have not withered. RASHI: The prophetic person has a superior body oder leading to preservation of garments. Superior caring leads to better hand me downs.

The table below presents two contradictory verses. Both verses talk about clothing. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says your clothing did not wither, while the other verse, actually logic, says clothes do not last for 40 years. Which is it? Did the clothes of the desert Jews wither as normal or were they actually preserved 40 years. Rashi simply resolves this using the 2 Aspects method: Prophets are known both for their charitable style and superior personal life. (1) Their charitable style leads to extra caring - hence the hand-me down clothes of older children to younger children are more carefully preserved so that the clothes don't wither. (2) Their personal life style with a lack of excessive indulgence in physical pleasure leads to superior body odors which results in a slower decay rate of clothes.

Summary Verse / Source Text of verse / Source
Your clothes did not wither Dt08-04a Your garment did not wither from you, nor did your foot swell, these forty years.
Garments typically wither Logic - reality Clothes typically wither and wear out
Resolution: 2 Aspects Prophets are known both for their charitable style and superior personal life. (1) Their charitable style leads to extra caring - hence the hand-me down clothes of older children to younger children are more carefully preserved so that the clothes don't wither. (2) Their personal life style with a lack of excessive indulgence in physical pleasure leads to superior body odors which results in a slower decay rate of clothes.

Advanced Rashi: Well we have some explaining to do. First, the contradiction here is a contradiction, not between two verses, but between a verse and logic. However that is still a contradiction.

Second Rashi does not literally say what we have attributed to him above. He rather literally says about the adults The prophetic spirit cleaned the clothes so that they did not wither. About the children he says The children's clothes grew by stretching similar to certain animal skins.

There is a long history in Judaism of interpreting miracles naturally (They are still miracles). So I interpreted the prophetic spirit cleaned the clothes to refer to the lack of eroding agents on the bodies of the desert Jews. I then used the well known fact that excessive physical indulgence (especially sexual indulgence) results in the productions of different chemicals on the skin which have eroding capacity. I refer to this as superior body odors. I think most people intuitively grasp that a person who is excessively engaged in sex will appear different. There are also journal articles documenting this. In fact some brand name perfumeries will not allow women to work on the perfumes during their periods since the chemicals on their skin would hurt the perfumes.

I similarly interpreted The children's clothes grew by stretching similar to certain animal skins to refer to hand-me-downs. Hand-me-downs usually wither because people don't care for them. Charitable people who knew their clothing is being handed down would take extra care so that the recipients would have good clothes.

Perhaps there are other ways to interpret this Rashi along the rational approach I have taken.

    6. RASHI METHOD: STYLE
    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 Dt07-12a
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1303.htm
    Brief Summary: GENERAL Do Gods commandments and it will be well DETAIL: Love God, Teach God, Place Mezuzoth, ... GENERAL: As a consequence you will reap reward RASHI: Even for simple commandments (like Mezuzah)

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.

    Verses Dt06 - Dt07-26 discussing the reward for observing God's commandments states
  • General Theme: Observe God's commandments---it will be good for you: These are the commandments, the statutes and the laws that Ad-noy, your G-d, commanded to teach you to fulfill in the land that you are crossing over there to inherit. ....You will heed, Yisroel, ....so that you will multiply exceedingly, ...--- a land flowing milk and honey.
  • Details: Particular Commandments to observe:
    • You are to love Ad-noy, your G-d, with all your heart, ....
    • You are to teach them to your children and you are to discuss them, when you sit at home, and when you journey on the road, and when you go to sleep, and when you rise.
    • You are to tie them as a sign on your arm [Tefillin] and they are to be totafos between your eyes.
    • You are to write them on the doorposts of your house, [Mezuzoth]and on your gateposts.....
    • Do not make a treaty with them [The Canaanite nations]...
    • and do not do favors to them.....
    • Do not inter-marry them [With the Canaanite nations];...
  • General Theme: Observe God's commandments--it will be good for you: As a consequence of your heeding these laws, G-d, will guard for you the covenant .... He will love, bless and multiply you;

Rashi generalizes the detail clause observe Mezuzah, learn, don't intermarry as illustrative of the general clause, do God's commandments and you will reap reward, and states: There is reward even for minor commandments such as Mezuzah; how much more so for major commandments. We believe this comment evident and consistent with the Rabbi Ishmael style guidelines.

Advanced Rashi: Rashi notes that many items in the detail section in the above passage deal with symbolic, emotional, and informational items, love, teaching, Tefillin, Mezuzoth, favors. People tend to belittle such laws as non-important since they are means to an end. The important law is not to forsake one's own religion. Consequently Rashi paraphrased interprets the detail section as prototypical The Torah promises Gods providence in exchange for the Jews following all commandments of separation from the Canaanite nations. This includes both major items such as the obligation to conquer them and the prohibition of worshipping idols as well as minor items such as the symbolic, emotional and intellectual commandments affirming our values against those of the Canaanites. This includes the commandments such as love, symbols (Tefillin, Mezuzah), education, lack of favors to the Canaanites etc.

The traditional interpretation of this Rashi comment, as found in modern and midieval Rashi commentators, focuses on the strange Hebrew word used for consequence, Ayin-Kuph-Beth which normally means heel. In English also the phrase such and such came in the heels of such and such can connote causality. Rashi seems however to make a pun on the word heel: The Bible speaks about minor commandments which people step on with their heels. This literal Rashi phrase suggested to many people that Rashi's focus in this verse was the unusual Hebrew word Ayin Kuph Beth. We however believe that the explanation we presented above, focusing on the overall structure of the Biblical paragraph is deeper, sounder and more mature. True, Rashi expressed this sound idea by creating a pun on the Hebrew word Ayin Kuph Beth--heel-consequence-despise. However it would appear that the primary reason for the Rashi comment is the paragraph structure cited.

      7. RASHI METHOD: FORMATTING
      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 Dt11-18a
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1303.htm
      Brief Summary: (1)If you serve God you will be rewarded. (2) If you don't serve you will be punished. (3)Learn and teach these precepts. RASHI:(1)(2) and (2)(3) form a paragraph.

Both the Biblical and modern author use the paragraph as a vehicle for indicating commonality of theme. Hence if two ideas are in a paragraph they may be assumed to have a similar context. The reader will no doubt recognize this formatting rule as none other than the most intuitive of the Rabbi Ishmael style rules which orthodox Jews recite every day as part of their daily prayer: the rule of inference from context. Today's example illustrates this.

    Rashi also makes inferences from paragraph proximity. Here the context is the chapter containing several distinct paragraphs. There are three broad methods of paragraph unity:
  • cause-effect
  • contrast
  • unifying theme with multiple effects

    Biblical paragraph Dt11-08:21 has 4 sub-paragraphs as indicated below
  1. If you listen to God's commands you will be rewarded: And it shall come to pass, if you shall heed diligently to my commandments which I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, That I will give you the rain ...
  2. If you don't listen I will punish you: Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and you turn aside, and serve other gods,... And then the Lordís anger be kindled against you, ... and lest you perish quickly from off the good land which the Lord gives you.
  3. Learn/Teach these words: Therefore shall you lay up these my words in your heart... And you shall teach them to your children, ...
  4. In order you live long: That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children....

    Rashi can be summarized by in the following two ways the organization of the above 4 paragraphs: We can alter the sequence of paragraphs 1 and 2
  • Paragraphs 2 and 1. If you disobey you will be punished while if you listen you will be rewarded.
  • Paragraph 3. Teach them to your children
  • Paragraph 4. This way you will merit long life.

    Alternatively we can keep the sequence of paragraphs 1 and 2. The result is still the same.
  • Paragraphs 1 and 2. If you will listen you will be rewarded while if you disobey you will be punished.
  • Paragraph 3. Teach them to your children
  • Paragraph 4. And in the end this way of life will merit long life and a return to your land.

The point is that we are free to use the sequence #1,#2 or #2,#1 corresponding to reward,punishment vs. punishment, reward, respectively. By using the reward punishment sequence there is a suggestion of sharing the punishment paragraph, #2, with both paragraphs #1 and #3 so that the sequence will read as follows:

  • Paragraphs #1,#2: If you observe God will reward you; if you sin God will punish you.
  • Paragraphs #2,#3: If you sin you will be punished but you will still learn and teach and do all the commemorative commandments.
  • Paragraph #4: The net effect with be longevity of life.

So the gist of Rashi is using the proximity of paragraph #2 twice: If you sin you will be punished but nevertheless you will be able to do commemorative commandments and mention long life.

The use of a terminal element in one sequence to simultaneously be an initial element in another sequence is called syncopation in music. It is a powerful technique which gives cohesive unity to works.

      8. RASHI METHOD: DATABASES
      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 Dt11-17c
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w34n7.htm
      Brief Summary: When God decrees a punishment, if there are no wise men to teach the people God may delay punishment for a long time.

Today we ask the database query: When God decrees a punishment how much lag time does God give in order to give people time to repent? The query uncovers three major examples. An examination of these examples justifies the Rashi assertion that (a) The generation of the flood and Ninveh did not have leaders to learn moral behavior from; hence they were given extra time to repent (b) The Jews had great leaders to learn from and hence their punishment is immediate (Since no further time is needed to learn and repent) The table below presents results of the query along with illustrations of Rashi's comment.

Verse Punishment Time Given to repent
Gn06-03 Noah's Flood 120 years
Yn03-04 Destruction of Ninveh 40 days
Dt11-17 General punishment for non-observance Immediate

Advanced Rashi: I have brought Ninveh as a supplementary example to Rashi. I would argue that Jonah's tribe was both to rebuke them that they would be destroyed as well as teach them proper behavior. Since Jonah was a temporary prophet-scholar (unlike Moses who was a permanant prophet-scholar) 40 days were given. By contrast the generation of the flood had no prophet to teach them - it is well known that Noah did not preach to his generation and the prophetic orders from God to him were personal not communal.

    9. RASHI METHOD: SPREADSHEETS
    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 Ex35-01a Dt09-18a
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1303.htm
    Brief Summary: 1)Revelation(6 Sivan), 2) Torah received - 40 days 7 Sivan to 17 Tamuz 3)Prayer on Golden calf - 19 Tamuz to 29 Av 4) Second Tables - 1 Elul to 10 Tishray = Atonement

It is a well known Rashi that there wer 3 ascents of Moses on the mount, for 40 days each, resulting in forgiveness on the Day of Atonement. This is literally a spreadsheet listing a chronology. It is presented below with the source verses and the events that happened.

Dt. Verse Ex. Verse Ascent # Purpose of Ascent Dates for 40 days
Dt09-09:11 Ex24-18 #1 Receive 1st Tablets 7 Sivan - 17 Tamuz
Dt09-18 Ex32-30 #2 Prayer to forgive golden calf sin 19 Tamuz - 29 Av
Dt09-25:29 Ex32-30 #2 Prayer to forgive golden calf sin 19 Tamuz - 29 Av
Dt10-01:05 Ex34-27:29 #3 Receive 2nd Tablets 1 Elul - 10 Tishray

    There are variety of nuances in the table. For example
  • Final forgiveness (2nd tablets) happened on 10 Tishray, Yom Kippur.
  • The first tablets were broken on 17 Tamuz, anational fast day.
  • There are 0 or 1 day lapses e.g between 17 Tamuz and 19 Tamuz or between revelation 6 Sivan and ascent to mountain 7 Sivan. These are indicated in the Biblical text by such phrases as and on the morrow...

Conclusion

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.