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.
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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.
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 ]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.