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

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,
Oct 15th 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 Gn04-04b
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1310.htm
    Brief Summary: God TURNED to Hevel's offering (Gn04-04) means A (prophetic) fire came down from heaven (to the offerer)(Lv09-24)

Verse Gn04-04 discussing God's relationship with Hevel's offering states And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And HaShem turned unto Abel and to his offering; Rashi notes that the underlined words, turned references verses Lv09-24 discussing the fire that came from down from the Lord connected with a sacrifice procedure. Hence the Rashi comment The statement Gn04-04 that God turned to Abel's offering means that fire descended from Heaven to consume the offering as indicated in Lv09-24. [We would interpret this to mean a prophetic fire vision descended to the offerer of the sacrifices. Indeed, we have argued that the purpose of sacrifices were to induce prophetic fire dreams (See my article on Genesis 1 on the Rashi website located at http://www.Rashiyomi.com/gen-1.htm ]

Text of Target Verse Gn04-04 Text of Reference Verse Lv09-24
And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And HaShem turned unto Abel and to his offering; And there came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat; which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.
Rashi comments: The statement Gn04-04 that God turned to Abel's offering means that fire descended from Heaven to consume the offering as indicated in Lv09-24. [We would interpret this to mean a prophetic fire vision descended to the offerer of the sacrifices. Indeed, we have argued that the purpose of sacrifices were to induce prophetic fire dreams (See my article on Genesis 1 on the Rashi website located at http://www.Rashiyomi.com/gen-1.htm ]

      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 Gn03-24a
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1310.htm
      Brief Summary: KEDEM-BEFORE = east; AFTER = west, RIGHT = SOUTH.

The literary techniques of synechdoche-metonomy, universal to all languages, states that items can be named by related items, by parts of those items, or by good examples of those items. For example honey refers to anything sweet since honey is a good example of something sweet. Similarly hot refers to matters of love since the two are related. Today's Rashi can best be understood by applying these principles.

The words before, after, right refer to particular relative locations. However metonomy/synechdoche allows this word to refer to the good example of relative positions when you face the sun; 1) When you face the sun, it is before you in the east; 2) When you face the sun, your back faces the west; 3) When you face the sun the south is on your right. The following verse, with referents to relative positions illustrates this usage. Verse Gn03-24a discussing the confrontation between God and man in paradise after man sinned, states So He drove out the man; and He placed at the east [literally, before] of the garden of Eden the cherubim, and the flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way to the tree of life. As can be seen this verse(s) illustrates a metonomycal /synodechical use of relative position, before to refer to geographic positions, east.

      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 Gn03-11b
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1310.htm
      Brief Summary: Have you eaten from the tree that I forbade you to eat from?

Today 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.

    There are many classical aspects to grammar whether in Hebrew or other languages. They include
  • The rules for conjugating verbs. These rules govern how you differentiate person, plurality, tense, mode, gender, mood, and designation of the objects and indirect objects of the verb. For example how do you conjugate, in any language, I sang, we will sing, we wish to sing, she sang it.
  • Rules of agreement. For example agreement of subject and verb, of noun and adjective; whether agreement in gender or plurality.
  • Rules of Pronoun reference.
  • Rules of word sequence. This is a beautiful topic which is not always covered in classical grammatical textbooks.

Today we review the rules of the interrogative in Hebrew. Recall (in English) that sentences can be declarative, for example, To the store I went, or interrogative, for example, To the store, I went? or commands, for example, Go to the store. The same set of words can change its meaning from a declaration to a question, if a question mark, indicating the interrogative, is placed at the end.

In Hebrew, instead of placing a question mark at the end of the sentence, one places a letter hey with a chataf-patach punctuation at the beginning of the sentence.

The first question asked in the Bible occurs at Gn03-19, Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from? In English this sentence is indicated by a terminal question mark while in Hebrew it is indicated by a prefixed hey with a chataf-patach punctuation. Rashi explains This prefix hey with a chataf-patach indicates the interrogative.

    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 Gn01-11c
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1310.htm
    Brief Summary: God created a) verdure, b) grass, WITH GERMINATING SEEDS

The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Gn01-11c Both verses/verselets discuss the creation of plant life by God. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: The plants were created with germinating seeds which could be carried by the wind and seed new plants at a distance. Rashi infers this by comparing the two words connoting grass: a) verdure vs. b) grass, seeding seeds.

Verse Text of Verse Rashi comment
Gn01-11c
    And G-d said: 'Let the earth 0put forth
  • grass,
  • herb with seeding seed,
  • and fruit-tree bearing fruit after its kind, wherein is the seed thereof, upon the earth.' And it was so.
The plants were created with germinating seeds which could be carried by the wind and seed new plants at a distance. Rashi infers this by comparing the two words connoting grass: a) verdure vs. b) grass, seeding seeds.
Gn01-11c
    And G-d said: 'Let the earth 0put forth
  • grass,
  • herb with seeding seed,
  • and fruit-tree bearing fruit after its kind, wherein is the seed thereof, upon the earth.' And it was so.

    Advanced Rashi: There are two points two Rashi:
  • First, Rashi notes the extra aligned phrase, seeding seed which emphasizes that plants were created with reproductive capacity (via their seeds)
  • Second, Rashi notes the repetition, seeding seeds which he interprets as emphasizing that even though plants do not have their own locomotion their seeds work anyplace and e.g. can travel through the air and seed elsewhere. Here Rashi uses rule #7, formatting.

      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 Gn03-07a
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1310.htm
      Brief Summary: a) They (physically) SAW the tree; b) There (intellectual) EYES were opened b') and they KNEW they were naked.

The table below presents two contradictory verses/verselets. Both verses/verselets talk about awarenesses of Adam and Eve after they had sinned. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says they saw the tree while the other verse says their eyes were [first]opened. Which is it? Did they see the tree first or were their eyes first opened after they ate from the tree. Rashi simply resolves this using the 2 aspects method: They physically saw the tree; they ate from her fruit and then their spiritual eyes were opened and they became aware that they were naked.

Summary Verse / Source Text of verse / Source
They (physically) saw Gn03-06:07a
  • And the woman [physically] saw that the tree was good for food,
  • and that it was pleasant to the eyes,
  • and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit, and ate, and gave also to her husband with her; and he ate.
  • And the [intellectual] eyes of them both were opened, and
  • they became aware that they were naked;
Their spiritual eyes were opened Gn03-07a
  • And the woman [physically] saw that the tree was good for food,
  • and that it was pleasant to the eyes,
  • and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit, and ate, and gave also to her husband with her; and he ate.
  • And the [intellectual] eyes of them both were opened, and
  • they became aware that they were naked;
Resolution: 2 Aspects They physically saw the tree; they ate from her fruit and then their spiritual eyes were opened and they became aware that they were naked.

Advanced Rashi: Recall that the classical way to resolve a contradiction between two verses is to find a third verse. In this case Rashi takes the end of Gn03-11 which states they became aware that they were naked as proving that the previous phrase their eyes were opened refers to spiritual eyes, not physical eyes. However, as we have pointed out many times, a third verse pointing to the resolution is not always present and consequently the resolution of the contradiction must sometimes be through logic alone.

    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 Gn04-12a
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w34n15.htm
    Brief Summary: GENERAL: You will not be able to farm. DETAIL: But you will not starve - rather you will have to wander for food.

Certain Biblical paragraphs are stated in a Theme-Development form. In other words a broad general idea is stated first followed by the development of this broad general theme in specific details. The Theme-Detail form creates a unified paragraph and consequently the law or narrative statement only applies to the enumerated details but not to other cases. Today's example illustrates this as shown below.

    Verses Gn04-11:12 discussing the punishment of Kayin for murdering Abel states
    • General: And now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened her mouth to receive your brotherís blood from your hand; When you till the ground, it shall not henceforth yield to you her strength;
    • Detail: a fugitive and a wanderer shall you be in the earth.
    The general clause states Kain will not get produce from agriculture and could either mean that Kain will not be able to farm or to eat or to have food. The detail clause provides specificity to the general clause and describes how it should be interpreted: Kain will not have agriculture but will have food! However he will be forced to continuously wander to obtain his food.

      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 Gn03-16a,Gn03-16b,Gn03-16c
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1310.htm
      Brief Summary: 1) Pain/Depression of raising children 2) Pregnancy ordeal 3) labor pains

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 Gn03-16 discussing the punishment of women for eating from the forbidden fruit is written in a climactic manner as shown. For convenience we have inserted the Rashi comments clarifying the nature of the climax in brackets
  • I will increase your pain [ the pain of raising children (Which already existed in Paradise) ]
  • and your pregnancy ordeal [ the pain of going through pregnancy ]
  • in pain will you give birth [ the pain of labor. ]

As can be seen Rashi takes the 3 phrases to correspond to three pains/ordeals unique to women. Rashi lists the pain of raising children first since that is the weakest of the pains and already existed in paradise. Rashi next mentions the pain of pregnancy since that is more intense. Finally Rashi concludes with the pain of labor since that is the most intense. As can be seen the list of pains is climactic.

      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 Gn01-22a
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w34n15.htm
      Brief Summary: God blessed those created items that are vulnerable - animals, humans- but did not bless stars and plants which would survive anyway.

Today we ask the database query: Which created items did God bless and which did he not bless? The query uncovers half a dozen examples. An examination of these examples justifies the Rashi assertion that God blessed those items which were vulnerable to extinction for example, animals and humans. However items which were not vulnerable were not blessed: Stars, which are indestructible, received no blessing, plants received no blessing (since they reproduce anyway) and beasts which are not hunted were also not blessed. The table below presents results of the query along with illustrations of Rashi's comment.

Verse Created Item Was it blessed? Is it vulnerable?
Gn01-14 Stars No No - Stars are indestructible
Gn01-11 Plants No Plants germinate in all environments
Gn01-24 Beasts No Animals are hunted; beasts are not hunted
------- ---- ---- -----
Gn01-22a Animals Yes Animals are hunted - hence they need blessing
Gn01-27 Humans Yes Humans are vulnerable to nature and animals

    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 examples applies to Rashis Gn05-32a
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w34n15.htm
    Brief Summary: a) God gave man 120 years to repent at year 480 of Noach. b) Noah gave birth at year 500 of this life c) The flood was at year 600 (so that his eldest was 100)

    The following verses discuss the time of the decree and punishment of the flood
  • Gn05-32a states And Noah was 500 years old; and Noah fathered Shem, Ham, and Japheth...
  • Gn06-01:03 states And it came to pass, when men began .... And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for he also is flesh; yet his days shall be a 120 years
  • Gn07-06 states And Noah was 600 years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth.

    Notice that Noah had children at 500 and the flood came when he was 600, a duration of 100 years. But God said yet his days shall be 120 years indicating that God would wait 120 years for man to repent. To account for this discrepancy between 100 and 120 years Rashi offers the following chronology
  • Year 480 of Noah's life: Man is evil; God decrees destruction but gives mankind 120 years to repent
  • Year 500 of Noah's life: Noah has 3 children
  • Year 600 of Noah's life: The 120 years grace period is up; man does not repent; God brings the flood.

Advanced Rashi: Rashi, commenting on the 100-120 contradiction states There is no early and late in the Torah by which Rashi meant Biblical order is not chronological. Some students of Rashi capriciously interpret this to mean that Biblical order is random. Actually however the correct statement is There are several driving forces to Biblical order such as chronology, context, causality, etc. In other words Rashi was not seeking to indicate that the Biblical order arbitrary - rather he was trying to show that chronology is not the only determinant of Biblical order.

    The order of these verses can be explained as follows
  1. Gn05-01:32 describes the genealogies, lifespans and birthdates of 10 generations. The chapter concludes with the time - age 500 - that Noah gave birth to his children.
  2. Gn06-01:09 describes the corruption that had emerged in the world and the facts that (a) God gave them a 120 year grace period to repent, (b) God intended to destroy the world by flood if man does not repent and (c) God would spare Noah who found grace in God's eyes.
  3. Gn06-10... describes God's order to Noach to build an ark and be spared from the flood.

So we see that indeed the order is chronological! However it is chronological on paragraphs not on verses. First the genealogies (starting from Adam) are mentioned (Paragraph #1); then (paragraph #2) the corruption of the world and the impending doom; finally (paragraph #3) we read about Noah being saved by the ark.

We mention one more subtlety in the order. The last verse of paragraph #1, discussing Noah's birth at 500, is, in the Biblical notation, the first verse of paragraph #2, discussing how Noach would be saved from the corrupt world despite its corruption. This phenomenon of a terminal verse of one paragraph also functioning as the initial verse of a subsequent paragraph is called, in music, syncopation and is yet another principle of order. Syncopation is a powerful musical technique that tightly bounds a piece of music and provides cohesiveness.

Finally we point out that Rashi introduces additional material to explain the 480-500-600 year chronology. Pre-Torah people were not punished for their sins till after age 100 (Post Torah the punishment age is 20). Applying this to the 480-500-600 year chronology we see ....that Noah gave birth at age 500 while the flood came at age 600 implying that Noah's children were all age 100 or less and hence would not be punished by the flood. However Rashi's main point is that the warning to man came at Noah-age 480 while Noah's children came at age 500.

      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, Nu07
      • (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 Gn01-27a, Gn01-27b
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w33n4.htm
      Brief Summary: Genesis Chapter 1 does not describe the creation of the PHYSICAL world but rather describes the creation of PROPHECY.

Using symbolic methods I have argued that Genesis, Chapter 1, does not speak, as is commonly thought, about the creation of the physical world, but rather, about the creation of the spiritual world. That is, what happened 6000 years ago is not that the physical world was created but rather that prophecy was created.

Here is another way at looking at this: There had to be a first point in time when man had a prophetic dream. Before this point in time there were no prophecies. After this point there were prophecies. This first point in time happened 6000 years ago. The person named Adam received a prophetic vision and this was the first time in human history that a prophetic vision was received.

The student interested in studying all details of this idea should visit url, http://www.Rashiyomi.com/gen-1.htm which contains my paper Genesis 1 speaks about the creation of prophecy not the creation of the world. We suffice in this newsletter to indicate a very rough sketch.

Genesis 1 could not be speaking about the creation of man: Indeed Genesis 3 describes slimy man, the snake. Similarly, Genesis 4 describes the city that Kayin built, presumably for other people. Gn01-02 when interpreted with proper grammar uses the past perfect: The world had been void.... The past perfect--had been--- shows that prior to the creation of prophetic-man the world had existed!

Because of these and other considerations Rashi states on Gn01-04, which states God said let there be light and there was light, Here also we require agaddic/symbolic methods: The verse speaks about the spiritual light hidden for the righteous in the future world. We have interpreted this Rashi as speaking about the light of prophecy which is destined for the righteous in the future world. Thus the proper translation of Gn01-01:04 is as follows:

For the sake of the choicest in man, God created both the physical and spiritual worlds. For the world had been void, with darkness over human emotions, and only a vestige of prophecy hovered over mans inner turmoil. And then God said let there be the light of prophecy and people had visions...

If one reads the article references above one can find a more detailed account of the methodology, other sources (besides this Rashi) that confirm this approach, as well as many scriptural references (such as references showing that light means prophecy.) We urge all readers to read it.

Each year when reviewing BreiShith we try and add one new symbolic Rashi illustrating the above approach. Today we concentrate on the phrase (Gn01-27) that man was created in the image of God. Rashi, following the above symbolic methodology, interprets this symbolically: The symbolic interpretation of the form of man correctly gives insight into God's nature. Here is a simple example: Man's form has his head above his body. Symbolically this means that the spiritual (head) is more important (above) than the physical (body).

Conclusion

This week's parshah does not contain examples of the contradiction Rashi method. Visit the RashiYomi website at http://www.Rashiyomi.com for further details and examples.