The 10 RashiYomi Rules
Their presence in Rashis on Parshat ShoFeTim
Volume 13, Number 5
Rashi is Simple - Volume 36 Number 5

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 20th 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.

FULL HOUSE THIS WEEK, ALL RASHI RULES ILLUSTRATED

    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 Dt17-13a
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1305.htm
    Brief Summary: And the ENTIRE nation will HEAR [The execution] RASHI: So it is done on festival time when the entire nation comes to Jerusalem.

Verse Dt17-13a discussing the execution of a rebellious elder states And the entire nation shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously. Rashi notes that the underlined words, entire nation references verses Dt16-16 discussing the appearance of the entire nation in Jerusalem at the festivals. Hence the Rashi comment The requirement stated in Dt17-13 that the entire nation will witness the execution references Biblical verse Dt16-16 which states that all male Jews must go to Jerusalem on the festivals. Hence we conclude that the rebellious elder is detained in prison until the festivals at which time he is executed so that the entire nation can witness the execution.

Text of Target Verse Dt17-13 Text of Reference Verse Dt16-16
And the entire nation shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously. Three times in a year shall all your males appear before the Lord your God in the place which he shall choose; in the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and in the Feast of Weeks, and in the Feast of Booths; and they shall not appear before the Lord empty;
Rashi comments: The requirement stated in Dt17-13 that the entire nation will witness the execution references Biblical verse Dt16-16 which states that all male Jews must go to Jerusalem on the festivals. Hence we conclude that the rebellious elder is detained in prison until the festivals at which time he is executed so that the entire nation can witness the execution.

      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 Dt20-20a
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1305.htm
      Brief Summary: Yud-Resh-Daleth means a) Fell b) Conquered

When Rashi uses, what we may loosely 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 http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rashi.pdf. 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 Yud-Resh-daleth has a fundamental meaning of Falling. Hence this Biblical root can mean
  • to fall
  • to conquer [ since you frequently conquer a person by felling them; you similarly frequently conquer a city by felling it. ]

Applying the above translation to Dt20-20a discussing a war situation between Israel and a non-Jewish enemy we obtain Only the trees of which thou knowest that they are not trees for food, them thou mayest destroy and cut down, that thou mayest build bulwarks against the city that maketh war with thee, until it it is conquered.

Advanced Rashi: Rashi's point is that it would be natural to translate the verse ....thou mayest ...until the city falls. Rashi's point is that the city need not literally fall - it is enough that it be conquered. This is consistent with Jewish law (and with the opening verse of this Biblical section) that an agreement by the city to peace terms - 1) acceptance of basic Noachide laws of morality and 2) recognition (by paying taxes) of Israeli sovereignty - would not necessitate felling it since the non-violent acceptance of peace terms is consistent with conquest. For this reasons Rashi translates Yud-Resh-Dalet as conquest vs. fall.

      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 Dt18-01a
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1305.htm
      Brief Summary: ALL Levites....RASHI: Even blemished Levites.

    The special word method deals with the few dozen special connective words that exist in all languages. Familiar examples are also, when, that, if, then, all, because, only, this,.... These words are typically
    • adverbs, such as all,also or connective words, either
    • conjunctions, such as if, then, because or
    • articles or demonstrative or abstract pronouns, such as the, this, that or
    • propositional connectives, such as in,on,to,from.
    Rashi's job, when he comments on a special connective words, is to enumeratively list the nuances and usages of the word.

The most famous example of the special word method is the Hebrew word Kaph Yud which can mean because, that, when, perhaps, rather, if. Sometimes Rashi explicitly gives all meanings of a connective word as happens with Kaph Yud while at other times Rashi does not give all meanings at once. In such a case the Rashi student must gather all the meanings together from various places.

One can classify the special word method as either a meaning sub-method or grammar sub-method.

    Today we deal with the Hebrew special word Kuph-Lamed which can have any of the following meanings.
  • all, even borderline cases for example, Nu14-01a The whole nation rebelled, [even the leaders]
  • all, any part for example, Lv21-11b don't defile to any dead [even to organs]
  • all groups for example, Gn06-12a All flesh [even non-human animals] had become corrupt
  • all, emphasizing, no exceptions for example, Gn19-04b all people [without exception] in Sedom gathered (for the rape)

Applying this rule to the translation of Dt18-01a we obtain The priests the Levites, and all the tribe of Levi, [even blemished Levites who can't serve in the Temple] shall have no part nor inheritance with Israel; they shall eat the offerings of the Lord made by fire, and his inheritance. As is our practice we have embedded the Rashi translation in the verse.

Advanced Rashi: For further examples of Rashis on the Hebrew word Caph-Lamed visit http://www.Rashiyomi.com/all-18.htm. Better still visit the RashiYomi calendar at http://www.Rashiyomi.com/calendar1.htm and click on the all series which you can find beginning July 10 2000 and ending July 30 2000 (7-10-00 through 7-30-00).

    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 Dt21-08a
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1305.htm
    Brief Summary: a) .... PLEASE ATONE the Jewish people for this accidental murder b) .... IT WILL BE ATONED RASHI: Once the priests do the ceremony there is atonement.

The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Dt21-07:08a Both verses/verselets discuss the atonement procedure when a person accidentally murdered is found. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: 1) The priests do the entire procedure and then 2a) They request: Please atone the Jews for this death 2b) [And you God concur]: The death is atoned for. Although God is not explicitly stated as the Person who states (2b), the inference of his Authorship is justified by the contrast of the active atone vs. the passive atoned which suggests a corresponding contrast between the Priests and God.

Verse Text of Verse Rashi comment
Dt21-07:08a
    The elders of the city...the priests....
  • And they shall answer and say, Our hands have not shed this blood, nor have our eyes seen it.
    • [Said by Priests] Atone, O Lord, to your people Israel, whom you have redeemed, and lay not innocent blood to your people of Israelís charge.
    • [Decreed by God]And the blood shall be atoned them.
1) The priests do the entire procedure and then 2a) They request: Please atone the Jews for this death 2b) [And you God concur]: The death is atoned for. Although God is not explicitly stated as the Person who states (2b), the inference of his Authorship is justified by the contrast of the active atone vs. the passive atoned which suggests a corresponding contrast between the Priests and God.
Dt21-07:08a
    The elders of the city...the priests....
  • And they shall answer and say, Our hands have not shed this blood, nor have our eyes seen it.
    • [Said by Priests] Atone, O Lord, to your people Israel, whom you have redeemed, and lay not innocent blood to your people of Israelís charge.
    • [Decreed by God]And the blood shall be atoned them.

      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 Dt21-07a
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1305.htm
      Brief Summary: 1)No one knows who killed this person 2)The elders say...we didn't kill this person RASHI We didn't accidentally kill him by abstaining from hospitality which led to a road mugging.

The table below presents two contradictory verses. Both verses talk about the killer of a dead person found in the field. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says it is not known who killed him while the other verse says we [the elders of the city] didn't kill him Which is it? Is the murder unknown or did the elders kill him? Rashi simply resolves this using the Broad-Literal method method: 1) The killer is unknown 2) We also (besides not directly killing the person) didn't indirectly kill him by abstaining from hospitality leading to the murdered wandering the roads and getting killed

Summary Verse / Source Text of verse / Source
Sanctify the firstborn Dt21-01 If one is found slain in the land which the Lord your God gives you to possess, lying in the field, and it is not known who has slain him;
We (the elders) didn't kill him Dt21-07a And they [the elders] shall answer and say, Our hands have not shed this blood, nor have our eyes seen it
Resolution: Broad-Literal 1) The killer is unknown 2) We also (besides not directly killing the person) didn't indirectly kill him by abstaining from hospitality leading to the murdered wandering the roads and getting killed

Advanced Rashi: Rashi literally says Did anyone think that the elders killed him that the verse should say We have not killed him? I have added to Rashi (who based the contradiction on logic) by finding a verse which supports the contradiction since it explicitly says it is not known who killed him.

    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 Dt19-15a
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1305.htm
    Brief Summary: One witness shall not establish sin....two or three witnesses shall establish matters When a criminal TESTIMONY arises against a person....then the 2 people ...shall stand

Certain Biblical paragraphs are stated in a 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.

    Verse Dt19-15:17 discussing dealing with false witnesses states
    • One witness (Ayin-Daleth) shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sins;
    • by the mouth of two witnesses (Ayin-Daleth-Yud-Mem),
    • or by the mouth of three witnesses (Ayin-Daleth-Yud-Mem), shall the matter be established.
    • If a false testimony (Ayin-Daleth) rises up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong;
    • Then the two men, who bring the case, shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges, who shall be in those days;
    A study of this passage reveals that
    • The word Ayin-Daleth can mean either witness or testimony
    • As is clear from the bullets above contrasting 1 with 2 or more witnesses it is necessary that a testimony have at least 2 witnesses.
    • Consequently when the Bible uses the singular Ayin-Daleth we must translate this as testimony, the testimony consisting of 2 or more witnesses.
    The Rabbi Ishmael example rule requires generalization. We infer from this passage that the word Ayin-Daleth when in the singular thoughout the Bible means testimony unless something in the verse forces one to interpret it as witness. Again the driving force for this generalization is the explicit statement that 1 witness cannot establish criminality since 2 or more are needed. Some examples where this generalization applies might be
    • Ex23-01 Don't partner with a wicked person to become a criminal testimony
    • Ex22-12 If the animal was attacked he will bring testimony so as to avoid payment
    • Dt05-17 Don't testify against your friend in a false testimony
    On the other hand e.g. Lv05-01 would be translated If a soul sins by hearing an oath and he is a witness - either he sees or knows about it - if he doesn't tell he will bear his sin. Here we translate Ayin-Daleth as witness since it is talking about the person in his individual capacity of knowing.

Advanced Rashi: This example of the Rabbi Ishmael Generalization rule is different in that what is generalized is a choice between translations - Ayin Daleth can mean witness or testimony. What the studied verses show is that generally ayin-daleth means testimony.

      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 Dt21-02c
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1305.htm
      Brief Summary: ....Measure to the cities surrounding the corpse [so that you may ascertain] the city closest to the corpse: The elders of that city....

    The Formatting rule includes the methods of writing consecutive paragraph or sentences. Just as a paragraph is a collection of sentences unified by a topic sentence and developed by supporting sentences, so too, a chapter very often has a theme that is developed by a skillfully sequenced set of paragraphs. Rashi new of 3 methods of writing consecutive paragraphs
    • Cause-effect: The second paragraph is the effect of the first paragraph. The first paragraph is the cause of the second paragraph.
    • Contrast: The two paragraphs illustrate contrasting sides of a theem.
    • Unified theme: The two or more paragraphs illustrate a common theme. For example a common theme may be illustrated by a sequence of paragraphs each of which exemplifies and illustrates the theme idea.
    The above three principles indicate methods for paragraph development into chapters as well as method for sentence development into paragraphs.

We formerly classified paragraph and chapter development under the grammar rule. However we think it more proper to devote the grammar rule to the relation between meaning and form, for example how verb conjugational forms indicates meaning. As indicated above the formatting rule governs use of sequence to indicate climax and paragraph sequencing.

    Rashi on Dt21-02:03 explains the sequence in two sentences indicating a cause-effect relationship.
  • Dt21-02. Measure from the corpse to the nearby cities, [so that]
  • Dt21-03. When you ascertain the city closest to the corpse: The elders of that city will....

Advanced Rashi: Rashi's contribution is to identify the relationship of the two verses as cause-effect, you measure in order to find the closest city. We have indicated this Rashi comment by embedding the bracketed expressions in the translation above. To recap the two verses would be translated as: Measure from the corpse to the nearby cities, [so that] When you ascertain the city closest to the corpse: The elders of that city will....

      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 Dt17-20b
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w34n8.htm
      Brief Summary: 7 commandments have a reward of long life (Covers all: don't eat blood (Would do it anyway), honor bird parent(easy)...

    Today we ask the database query: Which commandments mention a reward of long life or becoming well off for performing them? The query uncovers half a dozen major examples. An examination of these examples justifies the Rashi assertion that 7 commandments mention the reward of a long life or becoming well. These commandments cover the entire spectrum of commandments
    • Thus there are easy commandments (like letting the mother bird escape when capturing its young),
    • commandments whose violation is disgusting (like eating blood),
    • communal commandments (like have good justice), etc.
    Because these commandments cover the entire spectrum therefore we infer that all commandments if observed will provide a reward of long life.
    The table below presents results of the query along with illustrations of Rashi's comment.

Verse Verse Content Comments on commandment
Dt11-21a That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth. General Observance of commandments
Dt24-19d When you cut down your harvest in your field, and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go again to fetch it; it shall be for the non-citizen, for the orphan, and for the widow; that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. Leaving forgotten sheaves to indigent (No further action required)
Dt12-25b You shall not eat it; that it may go well with you, and with your children after you, when you shall do that which is right in the sight of the Lord. Prohibition of eating blood (But blood is disgusting and most people would abstain anyway)
Dt22-07a But you shall let the mother go, and take the young to you; that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days. Letting mother bird free when capturing young (An easy commandment)
Ex20-12a Honor your father and your mother; that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God gives you. Honoring parents (Easy commandment; all can do it)
Dt16-20b Justice, only justice shall you pursue, that you may live, and inherit the land which the Lord your God gives you. Communal justice
Dt17-20b That his heart be not lifted up above his brothers, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left; to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel. Requirements of King

    Notice how the commandments above span the entire spectrum
    • General commandments
    • Easy commandments
    • Commandments that would be done anyway
    • Communal commandments
    • Commandments peculiar to Royal house
    • Commandments without action
    Hence the Rashi comment: Observance of any commandment leads to reward. Note the interesting fact that although we have classified this as the database method it could equally be classified as coming from the Style rule of generalization from several verses.

    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 Dt21-02b
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1305.htm
    Brief Summary: Measure FROM the corpse (FROM his head FROM his nose) TO each of the nearby cities.

Verse Dt21-02 discussing the ceremony when a dead body with unknown killer is found states Then your elders and your judges shall come forth, and they shall measure to the cities which are surround the corpse; The word measure refers to a mathematical function requiring two arguments, the two points (a) from which you measure and (b)to which you measure. But as the underlined words indicate the above verse only indicates one of the two mathematical arguments: the place to which you measure. It does not explicitly indicate the place from which you measure. Hence Rashi clarifies The elders measure from the corpse to the surrounding cities. Since this Rashi clarifies a mathematical requirement we classify it as a NonVerse-Spreadsheet Rashi.

    Advanced Rashi: Rambam, Laws of Murder, Chapter 9, gives further mathematical details which supplement Rashi:
  • If the corpse is beheaded you measure from the head not from the rest of the body. (Furthermore, if the corpse is beheaded you first reunite the body and head and then measure).
  • In any event you measure from the nose (the indicator of life and death).
  • If multiple bodies were found one on top of the other we measure from them as they are.

Rashi inferred that we measure from the corpse since Dt21-03 indicates that the purpose of the measurement is to find the distance from the corpse to the city. Rambam inferred that we measure from the head and from the nose based on logic since the head and nose are the points by which life can be recognized and it makes most sense to measure from them.

      10. RASHI METHOD: SYMBOLISM
      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 Dt18-03d:e
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1305.htm
      Brief Summary: The Priest, who is in charge of helping the nation achieve marital happiness is symbolically taught the components of physical relationship: arms, cheeks=secreting organs, womb=children