The 10 RashiYomi Rules
Their presence in Rashis on Parshat Noach
Volume 13, Number 11
Rashi is Simple - Volume 36 Number 11

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 22nd 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 Gn10-08a
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1311.htm
    Brief Summary: HE WAS A WARRIOR HUNTER BEFORE GOD (Gn10-08) references Gn11-01:09, describing the war against God by the people of the Tower of Babelonians.

Verse Gn10-08 discussing Nimrod states And Kush fathered Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty one. He was a warrior hunter before the Lord; .... And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, .... Rashi notes that the underlined words, warrior hunter .... Babel, references verses Gn11-01:09 discussing the rebellion of the people of the Tower of Babel against God. Hence the Rashi comment The meaning of the statement Gn10-08 that Nimrod, who first reigned in Babel was a warrior hunter before God is clarified in Gn11-01:09 which describes the rebellion against God by the people of the Tower of Babel Gn11-06,Gn11-09, Gn11-01:09.

Text of Target Verse Gn10-08 Text of Reference Verse Gn11-01:09
And Kush fathered Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty one. He was a warrior hunter before the Lord; .... And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, .... ... And they said one to another, Come, let us make bricks, and .... And they said, Come, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach to heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we .... And the Lord came down to see the city .... So the Lord scattered them abroad from there upon the face of all the earth; and they left off the building of the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confuse the language of all the earth; and from there did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
Rashi comments: The meaning of the statement Gn10-08 that Nimrod, who first reigned in Babel was a warrior hunter before God is clarified in Gn11-01:09 which describes the rebellion against God by the people of the Tower of Babel Gn11-06,Gn11-09, Gn11-01:09.]

      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 Gn11-32b
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1311.htm
      Brief Summary: CHUR = burned-up / Anger; CHARAN = blow up / intensively angry.

When Rashi uses the synonym method he does not explain the meaning of a word but rather the distinction between two similar words both of whose meanings we already know.

    The following Hebrew words all refer to anger.
  • Caph-Ayin-Samech, anger
  • Cheth-Resh-Hey burned up
  • Cheth-Resh-Nun blow-up.

Rashi's point here is that a terminal nun connotes intensity. For example Resh-Yud-Beth means to dispute while Resh-Yud-Beth-Nun means to fist-fight, (cf. Ex21-18.) So Cheth-resh-hey from the Biblical root Cheth-Resh to burn would connote being burned up, while Cheth-Resh-Nun would connote being intensely burned up for example the English blown up. (Sometimes it is hard to find an exact translation).

In our article Peshat and Derash: A New Intuitive and Logical Approach, which can be found on the world-wide-web at http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rashi.pdf we have advocated punchy translations of Biblical verses as a means of presenting Rashi comments. The following translation of verse Gn11-32b embeds the Rashi translation Cheth-Resh-Nun means blowing up. And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years; and Terah died in Cheth-Resh-Nun ([God] Blew up).

Advanced Rashi: Rashi's literal statement is God blowing up [for example during the flood] was the norm in the world until Abraham (Terach's son) came to the world. After Abraham we find less anger in the world (so to speak, the blowing up by God became an ordinary being burned up. That is before Abraham God blew up at the flood and the Tower of Babel while after Abraham we don't find God blowing up at the world with flood-like destructive events.

      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 Gn06-13c
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1311.htm
      Brief Summary: ....and I will destroy them FROM the land (Rashi: The Hebrew ETH can mean 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 connective words in Hebrew. Connective words are words like, from, with, if, because, rather,but,... There are only a few dozen such words. It is important to know what each of these words means and how they function in sentences. Furthermore, many of these words have multiple meanings. Novices frequently are only familiar with the primary meaning of a connective word; as one advances in one's knowledge of Hebrew one must learn the secondary meanings of connective words.

The Hebrew word Aleph-Tauv, Eth is very peculiar in its usage. Technically it doesn't mean anything. Rather one places the word eth before a word to indicate that that word is the object of the sentence. For example Eth the man bit the dog would have the same meaning as the dog bit the man. Here the word eth grammatically functions to indicate the grammatical object of the sentence (Actually I am oversimplifying; typically a sentence with reversed subject-object order might have other indicators (besides eth) for example the change of the verb form from the active to the passive.)

    Rashi as well as the Radack and other grammarians point out that eth can have other meanings. For example eth can mean with or from. Consequently Rashi/Radack interpret eth in the following sentences as meaning from.
    • Gn06-13 And G-d said unto Noah: 'The end of all flesh is come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them from the earth.
    • Ex09-29 And Moses said to him, As soon as I go from the city, I will spread out my hands to the Lord; and the thunder shall cease, nor shall there be any more hail; that you may know that the earth is the Lordís.
    • 1K15-23 The rest of all the acts of Asa, and all his might, and all that he did, and the cities which he built, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? But in his old age he was diseased from his feet.

Advanced Rashi: Rashi points out that in some of the above verses Eth could mean with. Even more fascinating is Rabbi Hirsh's comment that eth indicates not only the object but also indicates fullness, and totality. For example the verse Honor eth your father and eth you mother... would connote honoring one's older siblings who are extensions of one's parents.

What should emerge from the above is that we have barely skimmed the surface of this rich and beautiful topic of connective words. There are all types of nuances to these words and throughout the ages different scholars have taught new nuances.

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 Gn09-03a
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1311.htm
    Brief Summary: a) ADAM was allowed to eat PLANTS b) NOAH was allowed to eat PLANTS and MEAT

The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Gn09-03a, Gn01-29 Both verses/verselets discuss God's allowance of certain foods to Adam/Noah. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: God only allowed Adam a strictly vegetarian diet. However God allowed Noah a meat-vegetarian diet.

Verse Text of Verse Rashi comment
Gn09-03a
  • Every moving animal that liveth shall be for food for you;
  • as the green herb have I given you all.
God only allowed Adam a strictly vegetarian diet. However God allowed Noah a meat-vegetarian diet.
Gn01-29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, on which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food.

      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 Gn10-14a
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1311.htm
      Brief Summary: a) Plishtim descended from the CASLUCHIM b) Plishtim descended from the PASRUSIM RASHI: The Casluchim and Pasrusim engaged in wife swapping.

The table below presents two contradictory verses/verselets. Both verses/verselets talk about the parents of the Plishtim. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says the Plishtim came from the Pasursim while the other verse says the Plishtim came from the Casluchim Which is it? Were the Plishtim from the Pasrusim or the Casluchim? Rashi simply resolves this using the 2 aspects method: The Pasrusim and Casluchim engaged in wife-swapping. Hence the Plishtim descended from both.

Summary Verse / Source Text of verse / Source
Plishtim came from the Pasrusim Gn10-14
    The sons of Japheth: Gomer, and Magog,....
  • and Pathrusim,
  • and Casluhim--
  • whence went forth the Philistines--and Caphtorim.
Plishtim came from the Casluchim Gn10-14
    The sons of Japheth: Gomer, and Magog,....
  • and Pathrusim,
  • and Casluhim--
  • whence went forth the Philistines--and Caphtorim.
Resolution: 2 Aspects The Pasrusim and Casluchim engaged in wife-swapping. Hence the Plishtim descended from both.

Advanced Rashi: Adulterous relations are frequently indicated discretely using the contradiction method. It is interesting that from the word Plishtim comes the word phallic, describing the emphasis and nature of these people.

    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 Gn09-23b
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1311.htm
    Brief Summary: GENERAL: They walked backwards DETAIL: They covered their father's nakedness GENERAL: They faced backwards so as not to see his nakedness RASHI: Even at the moment of covering they didn't peek

Certain Biblical paragraphs are stated in a Theme-Development-Theme form. In other words a broad general idea is stated first followed by the development of this broad general theme in specific details. The paragraph-like unit is then closed with a repetition of the broad theme. The Theme-Detail-Theme form creates a unified paragraph. The detailed section of this paragraph is therefore seen as an extension of the general theme sentences. Today's example illustrates this as shown immediately below.

    Verse Gn09-23b discussing the covering of the naked drunken Noah by his sons states
  • General: And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward,
  • Detail:and covered the nakedness of their father;
  • General:and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness.

Rashi generalizes the detail clause and covered the nakedness of their father; as illustrative of the general clause, faces were backward and states: Their goal was not to humiliate their father. Even at the moment of covering their face was backward and they did not see him naked. We believe this comment evident and consistent with the Rabbi Ishmael style guidelines.

Advanced Rashi: This verse actually has a General-Detail-General-General form since the verse states went backwards - covered his nakedness - faced backwards - did not see his nakedness. In other words the verse explicitly identifies the theme of the general clause - they avoided seeing his nakedness.

Notice that Rashi is not being pedantic but rather Rashi should be perceived as emphasizing one special implication of they did not see their father's nakedness. Rashi emphasizes even at the critical moment of covering him, when viewing the situation would be helpful, they did not peek. However what we have added to Rashi's explanation is that the driving force behind the Rashi is not some technical detail - what happened at the moment of covering - but rather a general statement that they always faced backwards out of respect for their father.

      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 Gn11-03c Gn11-03d
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1311.htm
      Brief Summary: Let us WHITEN bricks and BURN a BURNING Rashi: The capped words emphasize brick production in the cauldron.

We have explained in our article Biblical Formatting located on the world wide web at http://www.Rashiyomi.com/biblicalformatting.pdf, that the Biblical Author indicates bold, italics, underline by using repetition. In other words if a modern author wanted to emphasize a word they would either underline, bold or italicize it. However when the Biblical author wishes to emphasize a word He repeats it. The effect - whether thru repetition or using underline - is the same. It is only the means of conveying this emphasis that is different.

Verse Gn11-03 discussing the production of bricks in the Tower of Babel states And they said one to another: 'Come, let us bricken brick, and burn a burning' And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. female, as God had commanded Noah. The repeated underlined word phrase bricken bricks, burn a burning indicates an unspecified emphasis. First recall that the Hebrew word for brick is white because they are burned white hot in a cauldron furnace. Hence Rashi translates this unspecified emphasis as they produced a cauldron in which to burn white hot the bricks for production purposes. That is Rashi translates the verse as follows: And they said one to another: 'Come, let us burn white hot bricks, and burn a burning cauldron' And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. In other words The people of the tower of Babel had to do all production themselves. They required a burning unit that could burn other items - a cauldron; they would then produce bricks by making them white-hot. In summary Rashi views the special emphasis - whiten-white bricks and burn a burning - as emphasizing comprehensive production in a cauldron.

Advanced Rashi: We have indicated in rule 9 below that the Bible went into so much detail to show the premeditated nature of their sin. They didn't just, so to speak, off the cuff, built a tower. They did it with premeditation. They started a whole production process. Their whole goal in life was to unify the world in such a way as to stifle individuality.

      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 Gn11-05b
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w33n5.htm
      Brief Summary: Sinners are called "Crowd, Worthless, men" or the sinner city is called by name. The residents of the Tower of Babel is called SONS OF ADAM because like Adam they rebelled against God.

We ask the following database query: When God attacks sinners how does he call them? The reader is encouraged to perform the query using a standard Biblical Konnkordance or search engine. This database query yields the list below. The list justifies the following Rashi inference: God calls sinners by their city name. Or else, God calls them "crowd, worthless, people." However the Residents of the Tower of Babel are called "Sons of Adam" to indicate that a) they rebelled against God like Adam and b) they lost their unified world the same way Adam lost Paradise. The list below presents the results of the database query.

Sinner Verses Text Of Verse How sinner called
Sedom and Amorrah Gn18-20 And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave; By name (Sedom and Amorah)
Spies Nu14-22:23 Because all these men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not listened to my voice; Surely they shall not see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of them who provoked me see it; These men
Korach Nu16-21 Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment. Congregation / Crowd
Givah Rape Ju19-22 Now as they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, worthless men, surrounded the house, and beat at the door, and spoke to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring out the man who came into your house, that we may know him. Worthless
Tower of Babel Gn11-05 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the sons of Adam built. Sons of Adam

    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 Gn11-03c
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w34n15.htm
    Brief Summary: The generation of the tower made BRICKS because STONES, the traditional building material were not found in the Babelonian valley

Verse Gn11-03 discussing the building of the Tower of Babel, states, And they said one to another: 'Come, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly.' And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. Rashi comments: They used bricks to build the tower, because stones the traditional building material were not found in the Babelonia valley. Here Rashi uses real world phenomena to explain a Biblical verse, similar, for example, to using archaelogical data to explain Biblical verses. The use of real-world non-verse material to explain a verse justifies classifying this Rashi as a non-verse method.

Advanced Rashi: But why does the Bible tell us this? Presumably it magnifies their sin. They didn't just use stones lying around to build a tower, they had to go through a laborious process of brick production to build the tower. In other words their activities were truly premeditated. A person who has to work alot to sin is obviously worse than a person who just sins off the cuff.

      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 Gn07-04c
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/w33n4.htm
      Brief Summary: FOURTY symbolizes an EMBRYONIC period during which development to new horizons can take place.

Today we ask the database query: What does the number 40 symbolize? The query uncovers 5 examples. An examination of these examples justifies the Rashi assertion that 40 symbolizes an EMBRYONIC period during which development to new horizons can take place. The table below presents results of the query along with illustrations of Rashi's comment.

Verse Event Embryonic to which new Horizon
Gn07-04 Flood for 40 days Reshaping of world order
Ex34-28 Receipt of Ten Commandments (40 days) Change from Slave mentality to Free mentality
Nu14-33 40 year Trip from Egypt to Israel Change from slave generation to new free generation
Jonah03-04 Threatened destruction of Ninveh Reshaping of lifestyle of Ninveh (Repentance)
Ez29-12 Destruction of Egypt Reshaping of world order

Advanced Rashi: Rashi literally says: 40 days of flood corresponding to the 40 days in which the foetus is formed. They sinned by burdening God to create foetii to adulterous unions and were punished with 40 days of flood. My opinion is that the major driving force behind the Rashi is the database query which shows that in general 40 corresponds to an embryonic development to a new horizon. I therefore regard Rashi as adding another nuance to the 40 days applicable to this particular case, the flood. Rashi points out that the embryo takes 40 days to develop. Rashi further shows the Divine Justice in the irony that the 40 days during which embryos from adulterous unions were being produced corresponded to the 40 days of punishment. We however regard this Rashi comment as secondary and the above database analysis as primary. Very frequently Rashi will rely on the teacher to present primary meaning and will suffice with indicating an unexpected seconday nuance. I beleive this is the proper way to take this Rashi.

Conclusion

This week's parshah contains examples of all the Rashi methods. Visit the RashiYomi website at http://www.Rashiyomi.com for further details and examples.