Their presence in Rashis on Parshat Re'eh Volume 13, Number 4
Rashi is Simple - Volume 36 Number 4
Used in the weekly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
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August 13th 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 Dt16-11a discussing the enjoyment of the festivals states And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you, and your son, and your daughter, and your manservant, and your maidservant, and the Levite who is inside your gates, and the non-citizen, and the orphan, and the widow, who are among you, in the place which the Lord your God has chosen to place his name there. Rashi notes that the underlined words, and the Levite who is inside your gates, and the non-citizen, and the orphan, and the widow, who are among you references verses Dt14-28:29 discussing the enjoyment on festivals which requires remembering the poor. Hence the Rashi comment The statement that besides rejoicing with your family you must rejoice with the Levite, non-citizens, orphans and widows references verse Dt14-29 which explicitly states that in order to merit God's blessings you must share with these underprivileged groups.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi literally says There are four household members mentioned: 1) your son, 2) your daughter, 3) your male servants and 4) your female servants. I, God added four members who are so to speak my household members: 1) The Levite 2) The non citizen, 3) the widow and 4) orphan. If you help my household members I will help your household members.
It appears that Rashi is aligning the four and four. However there is no Rashi rule which would justify this. Furthermore, you cannot make inferences based on such numerical alignments. Therefore I sought a standard Rashi rule that would justify Rashi's inference. I found that the idea that gladdening these 4 categories will earn you God's merit explicitly referenced in Dt14-29. It immediately follows that this Rashi is using the reference rule. Rashi's language is a formulation of his comment as a clever pun on numerical coincidence to help people remember the comment - however the real driving force of the Rashi comment is the reference rule.
The serious student of Rashi is encouraged to review the above example until they fully understand it since this example shows how to differentiate between the true reason for Rashi vs. the form in which he states his comments. This study will lead to a more meaningful acceptance of Rashi comments since they are accepted based on rules that may be repeatedly used!
An idiom is a collection of words which means more than the sum of the meanings of each of the phrases' individual words. Verse Dt16-09a discussing the requirements to count 7 weeks from Passover to Shavuoth states Seven weeks shalt thou number unto thee; from the time the sickle is on the sheaf [harvest] shalt thou begin to number seven weeks. . Rashi explains: The phrase(s) the sickle is on the sheaf is an idiom meaning harvest. As can be seen from the underlined words the Rashi comment is compactly and explicitly combined in the Biblical text.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi goes a step further and states The omer coincides with the beginning of the harvest. Rashi learns this from the explicit association in Lv23-10:11. In fact we could have approached this whole Rashi using an alignment of the Lv and Dt chapters both of which deal with the Passover-Omer-Shavuoth sequence. However, it was also important to emphasize that Rashi was identifying a Biblical idiom which is why we classified this Rashi as we did.
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 phenomenon common in many languages - prepositional connectives and pronouns. Hebrew has a variety of forms for these connectives. Biblical Hebrew allows use of entire words to indicate prepositional connectives and pronouns; Biblial Hebrew also allows use of prefixes and suffixes. The great Biblical exegete, MALBIM, explained that use of entire words indicates an extra emphasis while use of prefixes and suffixes simply indicates the prepositional connective or pronoun.
Hence the prefix Mem means from while the words min, mehem mean from among.
Using this principle Malbim translates verse Dt14-12 as follows: But from among the following you are prohibited to eat: the great vulture, and the bearded vulture, and the ospray; Here we have translated the word mehem as emphasizing from among in accordance with the Malbim's principle. (The verse could have simply said: But the following should not be eaten: the bearded vulture...., without using the word from among.) Rashi commenting on the underlined phrase from among indicated by the use of the entire Hebrew word mehem states The stated prohibition of eating applies to a special subset (from among). Apparently the verse emphasizes even from among these birds - for example, if they have received excellent slaughter - you are prohibited to eat.
It is typical of exegetical inferences based on words vs. prefixes-suffixes that a special group is generally indicated but the reader must supply which special group is mentioned. This usually requires identifying a non-stated but obvious subgroup to which we would expect an exception. The verse therefore emphasizes even this subgroup is prohibited.
The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Dt15-03a Both verses/verselets discuss maintaining loans. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: It is prohibited to maintain a loan on a fellow Jew in the 7th year (The loan amount must be waived). The Bible explicitly states that one must take extra precautions to avoid maintaining a loan against a Jew (Dt15-09). Consequently, it is a positive commandment to maintain loans against non-Jews so that sufficient income will be maintained facilitating waiving the few outstanding loans against Jews.
Advanced Rashi: This Rashi was brought to my attention by one of the Rabbinical members of the Rashi newsletter in Chicago. He made several interesting comments which are worth noting. First, there is a controversy among the Rishonim whether the sentence The Non Jew: Maintain the loan; Your Brother: don't maintain it (waive it) indicates a permission or requirement. Allow me to explain this. The phrase maintain the loan (to a Non Jew) by itself would be interpreted as a command. However when this phrase occurs contrastively For a Non Jew: Maintain... For a brother (Jew) do not maintain the phrase indicates not a requirement/ command but rather a permission. That is throughout the Bible and in ordinary literature the contrastive phrase is heard as meaning For a non Jew: It is permissable to maintain while for a Jew it is prohibited to maintain. So the statement of those Rishonim that the phrase here indicates a requirement appears at first glance, peculiar. If the contrastive style indicates permission why are we calling this a requirement and command.
Secondly, my Rabbinic host pointed out that there are differences in Rashi manuscripts on what Rashi says. In fact some Rashi manuscripts leave out the Rashi comment on this verse alltogether. As an example the Davka CD I use does not have any Rashi comments on this verse.
Based on the above two comments it would appear that the text and analysis of this Rashi would require a critical examination of manuscripts. However a fundamental belief of this Rashi newsletter is that all Rashi problems can be solved by rules and universally applied methods. Suppose a repeated rule justifies a certain reading of the text? Suppose further that no other rule justifies an alternative reading? Wouldn't we be justified in upholding the corresponding version of the Rashi comment even if no supporting manuscript exists?
I explained to my host (This was Fall 2007) that the great Biblical exegetical master, Malbim, explains, that A contrastive style always indicates permission unless there is some extra Biblical emphasis in which case the contrastive style indicates requirement vs. prohibition. The Malbim does not state his principle here. He rather states it on Lv02-11:12. He also discusses it in his compendium of rules, The Morning Star, where he brings several examples.
For the above reasons I have cited the Rashi and interpreted it the way I have done. I am cognizant that many people including Rabbis consider themselves enlightened and accept the need to critically examine manuscripts. I therefore offer the above analysis as a complementary approach to dealing with issues of textual veracity.
Praise be Him who chose them and their learning!
The table below presents two contradictory verses. Both verses talk about sanctification of the firstborn. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says don't sanctify firstborn while the other verse says sanctify the firstborn. Which is it? Do we sanctify the firstborn or not? Rashi simply resolves this (in two ways) using the 2 Aspects method: Method 1: Sanctify the firstborn animals for firstborn sacrifices; therefore, it is prohibited to sanctify them for other sacrificial purposes. Method 2: Don't sanctify the firstborn animals for altar sacrifice. Rather, sanctify them and then redeem them. The resulting funds are sacred and given to the Temple funds.
Advanced Rashi: This is an exciting Rashi (as if the others weren't exciting). For Rashi, cites the Talmud, Arachin 29a. The Mishnah cites the two resolutions of our text that we have presented above. It would thus appear that there are two Rashi rules operating here.
What we have shown above is that both views, those of the Rabbis and those of Rabbi Ishmael, share a commonality of a study of a contradictory text as well as the commonality of a resolution by looking at two aspects. Rabbi Ishmael and the Rabbis differ in how to apply these two commonalities. Consequently the above example beautifully illustrates how the ten principles presented in this weekly newsletter are the skeleton and driving force behind all exegesii. They show an underlying commonality that however allows for disagreement and dissent. For this reason we warmly recommend this Rashi newsletter to students at all levels, whether beginning students or advanced Rabbinic students. The principles are fundamental and will enhance any type of study.
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.
Because the General-Theme-General style is perceived as a paragraph, therefore, we take the Detail phrase as a development of the general phrase. The logical conclusion would be You can buy meats and plant derived drinks.
Quite startingly the Rambam, Second Tithes, 7:1-3, states that honey, milk and eggs are also OK. The Rambam's logic is that You can buy items that grow from land-based food (cattle, sheep) as well as items derived from land-based-food animals (wine but also honey, milk and eggs). True, the Rambam categorizes and defends the law! But wouldn't it be more logical to simply state meats and plant-based drinks.
Problems like this arise frequently in interpretation of the General Theme General law. At the 20th MidWest Jewish Studies Conference I suggested that two style rules are operating here: The Rabbi Ishmael Style rules as well as the Broad-Restriction style rules. The broad-restriction style rules in this verse focus on the word all which broadens the appicability of the verse. In the Talmud the Rabbi Ishmael rules are frequently contrasted with the broad-restriction rules as two approaches to Biblical exegesis. However on our Rashi list we classify the broad-restrictive rule, emanating from an analysis of the adverb all, as an inference based on the special word rule, which is a subrule of either the meaning or grammar rule. The Rishonim according to the approach I am suggesting here combine the two rules in their legal decisions.
This idea of combining the Talmud's broad restriction rule with the Rabbi Ishmael Style rules, or, using the language of this email newsletter, rules #2/3 special word meaning with rule #6,Style, this combination, seems to solve many problems in the Rabbi Ishmael style exegesii. The interested (or skeptical) reader should, when studying a Rabbi Ishmael rule, study the verse to see if the word all is mentioned and if so I would strongly expect that the the style generalizations are not as restrictive as they normally would be.
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 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 Dt15-08d discussing requirements to the poor states but thou shalt surely open thy hand unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his losses that he has lost The repeated underlined word phrase lost indicates an unspecified emphasis. Rashi translates this unspecified emphasis as missing losses but not missed out profits That is Rashi translates the verse as follows: supply the poor with his missed losses, but you are not required to supply him with his missed profits. In other words There is a Biblical obligation of charity, to help the poor regain their missed losses But if e.g. a person missed out on an opportunity to make a great profit there is no Biblical obligation to help him recap on the missed profit.
Today Rashi gives a diagrammatic geographic description of the location of Mount Gerizim and Mount Ayval. Since Rashi is diagrammatic we classify this as a NonVerse-Geographic Rashi. We present below the diagrammatic map corresponding to the Rashi comments.
WEST EAST | Israel | | | | Mount Ayval | | Schem | Jordan river | Aylon Moreh | | | | Mount Gerizim | | Gilgal | | |
In a modern setting location is specified using latitude and longitude. The Bible in fact specifies the latitude determined by Gilgal and Jordan river and specifies the longitude by mentioning Schem. The Bible further clarifies that the mountains are nearer to the Jordan than to Gilgal, not right near but rather farther away.
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.