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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.