Their presence in Rashis on Parshat Ki ThaVoH Volume 13, Number 7
Rashi is Simple - Volume 36 Number 7
Used in the weekly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
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Sep 3rd 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 Dt27-24a discussing the curse for steathily smiting someone states Cursed be he who strikes his neighbor steathily And all the people shall say, Amen Rashi notes that the underlined words, strikes his neighbor steathily references verses 1S22-06:19 discussing the extermination of Nov, the city of Priests through slander. Hence the Rashi comment The phrase smiting one's neighbor steathily Dt27-24a refers to slander since slander results in murder and is done steathily. A classic example of steathily done slander resulting in murder is the destruction of an entire city of priests by Doeg's slander 1S22-06:19.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi does not explicitly bring the case of Doeg, though Doeg is the classic example of slander. Rashi also presents a second comment correlating the 11 curses with the 11 tribes that did not receive a blessing. This second comment requires use of the database method and will be done in a separate issue.
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.
Applying the above translation to Dt28-52a discussing the punishment of the Jews for violating God's commandments we obtain And he [the enemy] shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fortified walls are conquered, wherein thou didst trust, throughout all thy land; and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which HaShem thy G-d hath given thee.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi's point is that it would be natural to translate the verse ....until the walls fall Rashi's point is that the walls need not literally fall - it is enough that they be conquered.
Most people are aware that Hebrew verbs come from three-letter roots. Each root is conjugated in the 8 dimensions of person, gender,plurality, tense, activity, modality, direct-object, and prepositional connective. For example the root Shin Mem Resh means to watch. The conjugations Shin-Mem-Resh-Tauv-Yud and Nun-Shin-Mem-Resh-Nun-Vav mean I watched and we were watched respectively.
The rules for Hebrew grammar are carefully described in many modern books and are well known. Rashi will sometimes comment when a verse is using a rare conjugation of an odd grammatical form.
When presenting grammatical Rashis my favorite reference is the appendix in volume 5 of the Ibn Shoshan dictionary. This very short appendix lists most conjugations.
Verse Dt28-68b discussing God's punishment of the Jewish people for violating his convenant by bringing them into foreign lands states And HaShem shall bring thee back into Egypt in ships, by the way whereof I said unto thee: 'Thou shalt see it no more again'; and there ye shall market yourselves unto your enemies for bondmen and for bondwoman, but there will be no buyers Rashi translates the Biblical word Vav-Hey-Tauv-Mem-Caph-Resh-Tauv-Mem as coming from the Biblical root Mem-Caph-Resh which means to market We have conveniently embedded the Rashi translation in the translation of the verse. The closet conjugation rule governing this Biblical word may be found by using table(s) 1 in the Ibn Shoshan dictionary for the Hitpael (interactive) mode.
The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Dt27-12, Dt27-13. Both verses/verselets discuss the ceremony of blessings and curses on Mount Gerizim and Ayval The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: It was the Levites who said the curses and blessings. (Dt27-14 explicitly states And the Levites shall responsively speak, and say to all the men of Israel with a loud voice, cursed... ) The tribes did not say them but stood on their respective mountains However by answering Amen the tribes affirmed and participated in the blessings and curses. Hence the double verse language: The tribes stand on the curse and bless to the people.
The table below presents two contradictory verses. Both verses talk about land rights/obligations of the Levites. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says Levites don't inherit land while the other verse says Levites bring the first fruits of their land! Which is it? Does a Levite have land from which to give first fruits or not? Rashi simply resolves this using the 2 aspects method: 1) While Levites do not inherit in the rest of Israel 2) they do obtain 42 special Levite cities Nu35-01:08 If they plant vineyards in these cities they bring first fruits.
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 Dt27-18a discussing the curse placed on those who misguide a blind person on the path states cursed be him who misguides a blind person on the path And the whole nation says and responds, Amen. The Rabbi Ishmael example rule requires generalization of this passage. In this case we simply generalize from misguiding a blind person on a physical path to giving bad advice to any person on their path in life; cursed be him who misleads any person on his path in life And the whole nation says and responds, Amen.
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: Notice how Rashi's sole contribution is to impose a climactic interpretation on the text. This climax is justified not by the words used but by the sequence itself which requires a climactic interpretation. In other words the sequence 1)children 2) placenta from her legs 3) children that she gives birth doesn't make sense unless we translate placenta as young children and her legs as referring to the way little children play inbetween their parent's legs. The sequence then reads 1) big children 2) young children playing between her legs 3) newborns and this makes sense.
It emerges that this is a fundamental example of the format-climax method. For it illustrates very clearly how the climax principle contradicts and changes the simple meaning of the text. The interested student should seriously study it.
Verse Dt28-07a speaking about Israel's superiority over its enemies states The Lord shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way, and flee before you seven ways. Rashi explains A strong enemy goes out in unison on one path while a frightened enemy flees in multiple ways. Here Rashi brings real world associations to the underlined words one and seven One path is typically associated with a strong unified enemy while many paths are typically assocaited with a frightened enemy since frightened people typically disperse randomly. Because of these associations Rashi is justified in reinterpreting the verse as follows The Lord shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you in a strong unified way, and flee before you frightened and disorganized.
In other words Rashi here translates certain phrases one,seven that don't seem related to the verse theme. Rashi translates these phrases by bringing in real-world associations with them which make the verse relevant and meaningful. Because Rashi explains the verses with these real-world associations we say that Rashi is applying the non-verse method.
Advanced Rashi: The association with real world events is also characteristic of the meaning-metonomy method. However Rashi here is applying metonomy - naming by association - not to individual words but rather to word phrases. Rashi explains that the phrases one paths and seven paths refer to a unified attack and a frightened fleeing. Consequently, because Rashi is dealing with phrases vs. words I classified this Rashi as NonVerse rather then meaning.
The interpreter's task is to identify the unique military characteristics of each animal. Rashi commenting on the last verse Dt28-49a states The military characteristics of the griffin vulture are that it attacks suddently and swoops down on its prey quickly.
This week's parshah contains examples of all Rashi methods. Visit the RashiYomi website at http://www.Rashiyomi.com for further details and examples.