The 10 RashiYomi Rules
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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(c) RashiYomi Incorporated, Dr. Hendel, President,
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.


    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 Dt27-24a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: The phrase SMITING SOMEONE STEATHILY (Dt27-24a) refers to the SLANDER eg of DOEG killing the city of priests (1S22-06:19)

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.

Text of Target Verse Dt27-24a Text of Reference Verse 1S22-06:19
Cursed be he who strikes his neighbor steathily And all the people shall say, Amen When Saul heard that David had been discovered, and the men who were with him,.... Then Saul said to his servants who stood around him, Hear now, you Benjamites; will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards, .... Then answered Doeg the Edomite, who was set over the servants of Saul, and said, I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub. And he inquired of the Lord for him, and gave him provisions, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine. ...... And Nob, the city of the priests, he struck with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and babies, and oxen, and asses, and sheep, with the edge of the sword.
Rashi comments: 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.

      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 Dt28-52a
      URL Reference: (c)
      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 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 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.

      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 Dt28-68b Dt28-68d
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: You shall MARKET yourselves there to your enemies but there will be no buyers.

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.

    Very Advanced Rashi: Technically the root Mem-Caph-Resh means
    • to sell in the active mode [Qal]
    • to be sold in the passive mode [Nifal]
    • to market in the interactive mode [Hitpael]
    The translation market reflects the nuances of sale and interaction.

    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 Dt27-12a
    URL Reference: (c) Brief Summary: The Levites blessed / cursed TO the people The Tribes stood ON their mountains and answered AMEN

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.

Verse Text of Verse Rashi comment
Dt27-12 These shall stand upon Mount Gerizim to bless the people, when you are come over the Jordan; Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Joseph, and Benjamin 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: stand on the curse and bless to the people.
Dt27-14 And these shall stand upon Mount Ebal on the curse; Reuben, Gad, and Asher, and Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali.

      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 Dt26-11b
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: 1) Levites do not inherit land EXCEPT for the Levite cities 2) So if they plant in them they bring first fruits.

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.

Summary Verse / Source Text of verse / Source
Levites bring first fruits also Dt26-01:11b And it shall be, when you come in to the land which the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance, ... That you shall take of the first of all the fruit of the earth, .... And you shall go to the priest who shall be in those days, .... And you shall rejoice in every good thing which the Lord your God has given to you, and to your house, you, and the Levite, and the stranger who is among you.
Levites do not inherit land Dt18-01:02 The priests the Levites, and all the tribe of Levi, shall have no part nor inheritance with Israel; .... Therefore shall they have no inheritance among their brothers; ...
Resolution: 2 Aspects 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.

    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 Dt27-18a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: Cursed be him who leads astray a blind person on the highway RASHI: Similarly there is a curse on someone who gives any bad advice.

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.

      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 Dt68-56a,57a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: The famine will be so great that there will be no sharing of food: with her a)husband b) [big] children c) little children d) newborns

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.

    Verse Dt68-56:57a discussing the famine punishment God will bring on the Jewish people is written in a climactic manner as shown. For convenience we have inserted the Rashi comments clarifying the nature of the climax in brackets
  • The very soft woman will look miserly at [ ]
  • the man of her bossom [ husband ]
  • and her children [ that are grown up ]
  • and her placenta that comes from her legs [ the young children ]
  • and her children she gives birth to [ newborns ]

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.

      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 Dt29-06a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: God gave you everything - food, clothing, etc - for 40 years. Don't let this go to your head, rather observe the convenant.

    Today we ask the database query: Are there special circumstances which especially justify warning the Jewish people against possible apostasy and desertion of God. The query uncovers half a dozen major examples. An examination of these examples justifies the Rashi assertion that A recurring theme in Deuteronomy is the association of material saiety with warnings against desertion of God. Moments of saiety make one particularly vulnerable to feelings of haughtiness and self sufficiency which necessitate these warnings. The table below presents results of the query along with illustrations of Rashi's comment.

Verse Verse Content Saiety Verse Verse Content Warning
Dt06-11 And houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, and wells dug, which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees, which you did not plant; when you shall have eaten and be satiated; Dt06-12 beware lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery.
Dt08-12:13 Beware lest when you have eaten and are satiated, and have built goodly houses, and lived there; And when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; Dt08-14 And your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery;
Dt11-15 And I will send grass in your fields for your cattle, that you may eat and be satiated. Dt11-16 Beware for yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and you turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them
Dt31-20 For when I shall have brought them into the land which I swore to their fathers, that flows with milk and honey; and they shall have eaten and satiated.... Dt31-20 then will they turn to other gods, and serve them, and provoke me, and break my covenant.
Dt29-01:07 And Moses called to all Israel, and said to them, You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt ... And I have led you forty years in the wilderness; your clothes are not worn old upon you, and your shoe is not worn old upon your foot... ... And when you came to this place, Sihon the king of Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, came out against us to battle, and we defeated them; ... Dt29-08 Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do.

    Advanced Rashi: Several comments are worth mentioning.
  • This database query originates in the Midrash Rabbah. Rashi as is his custom did not cite the entire study. He rather in various places points to an association of saiety and warning. However the serious student enriches his Rashi experience by researching and reviewing all relevant examples of the query.
  • The last example Dt29-01:08 does not explicitly associate saiety and warning against apostasy but rather associates military victory with an exhortation to observe. Thus this last example is not as forceful as the other examples. This is typical of any Database query. There is a core set of examples which form the basis for the inference. However once the inference is reached it can be applied to other verses. In this case once we had a core of several examples showing the relationship between saity and warning we are justified in seeing any verses connoting material saity and exhortation of performance as illustrative of this general principle.

    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 examples applies to Rashis Dt28-07a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: They shall go out [to attack you] on one road and flee on 7 roads [frightened fleers take many roads]

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.

      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 Dt28-49a,e
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: The griffin vulture is known for sudden attack and swift descent.

    Military activity is often vigorously described using animal metaphors. Here we use the symbolism principle that items can symbolize their function. Examples are plentiful
  • Nu24-09 states He couched, he lay down as a lion, and as a great lion. Who shall stir him up? Blessed is he who blesses you, and cursed is he who curses you.
  • Jr05-06 states Therefore a lion from the forest shall slay them, and a wolf of the deserts shall destroy them, a leopard shall watch over their cities; every one who goes out there shall be torn in pieces; because their transgressions are many, and their apostasies are great.
  • Jr46-12 states Her sound is like that of a serpent on the move; for they shall march with force, and come against her with axes, like wood cutters.
  • Dt01-44a states And the Amorites, who lived in that mountain, came out against you, and chased you, as bees do, and destroyed you in Seir, even unto Hormah.
  • Dt28-49a states The Lord shall bring a nation against you from far, from the end of the earth, which will swoop down like the griffen vulture; a nation whose tongue you shall not understand;

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 for further details and examples.