Their presence in Rashis on Parshat Lech LeChaH Volume 13, Number 12
Rashi is Simple - Volume 36 Number 12
Used in the weekly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
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Oct 29th 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 Gn16-12a discussing Ishmael states And he shall be a wild human his hand shall be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the face of all his brethren.' Rashi notes that the underlined words, a wild human references verses Gn21-20 discussing Ishmael's dwelling in the deserts where he was known as a hunter. Hence the Rashi comment The angel's promise to Hagar, Gn16-12a that her son Ishmael would be a wild man references Gn21-20:21 which describes Ishmael as a desert archer.
There are 10 Rashi subrules by which meaning is presented. One such rule imparts meaning by etymologies. Etymologies in turn can be derived by breaking up the root into component roots. Such a breaking up does not mean that Rashi did not believe in the triliteral theory (3-letter root theory). As I have explained many times Rashi believed that grammatical conjugation was governed by three letter roots but that semantic conjugation, the explanation of meaning is governed by one and two letter roots. So it did not bother Rashi that he could simultaneously believe in 3 and 2 letter roots.
Verse Gn14-02 mentions King Berah - Beth-Resh-Ayin. Rashi explains the etymology of Berah - Beth-Resh-Ayin as Beth Resh-Ayin or Beth Rah which means 2 evils. Hence the Rashi comment King Berah was known as the 2-evil person: He went out of his way to be evil to both people and God.
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.
Applying this rule we see that the verb form to tent would mean creating tents or doing the normal activity of tents, pitching them. Hence the following Rashi-verse combination: Gn13-12a Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the Plain, but tented as far as Sodom. Rashi: He dwelt in the Plain Cities, but he tented, that is pitched many tents for his numerous livestock and staff and these tents reached to Sedom.
The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Gn15-17b Gn15-17c Both verses/verselets discuss nightfall. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: The sun sank refers to sunset while there was steathliness refers to Nightfall. More probably this symbolizes that the destruction of the nations of power - symbolized by furance fire that devoured the power animals - would not occur till the Jews were totally helpless symbolized by the setting of the sun and the fall of total nightfall. And just then when the Jews had lost all light and were confounded in stealth, just then God would send a furnace fire to devour the nations of power that had attacked us.
Background: The Rashi student who wishes to understand the following Rashi should be aware that in certain rare verses there are two versions in the Masoretic text which lists a way to pronounce the text and a way to write the text. In most verses the pronunced and written text are the same.
The table below presents two contradictory verses/verselets. Both verses/verselets talk about the tent that Abraham pitched. Actually here we deal with one verse that has a different written and pronounced version. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. The pronounced verse says he pitched his tent while the written verse says he pitched her tent. Which is it? Did he pitch her tent or his tent? Rashi simply resolves this using the 2 stages method: First, he pitched her tent (his wife's tent), and then, after she was settled, he pitched his own tent.
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. The rule of thumb is that if you state a single statement then that statement should be perceived as an example which should be Generalized. On the other hand if you want to emphasize that what you are saying only applies to the examples listed then you would use a theme detail format thereby indicating that from all instances of the general theme only the details you listed apply. 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.
Advanced Rashi: The verse is not necessarily perjorative on Ishmael. Let us not forget that his name means God hears prayer. The verse has applicability to the modern setting both to the hostile Arabs, such as terrorists and to the friendly Arabs. The key characteristics of both are a)a hunting type approach, b) over-permeation in all places, and despite c) animosity to their over-encroachment d) they have (Divinely promised) numerosity. The characteristics mentioned in this verse can be used to facilitate understanding of both friendly and hostile Arabs. As is our custom on this list we abstain from detailed or modern political applications and focus on pure Biblical interpretation.
We ask the following database query: When God prophesies does he use accompanying symbols? 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: When God prophesies he uses accompanying symbols reinforcing the prohpetic message. For example God prophesied to Abraham about the exile and alien status of his children in foreign lands. God accompanied this prohpecy with a dark dream to symbolize the darkness of exile. The list below presents the results of the database query.
Verse Gn12-08b discussing where Abraham camped on his journeys states And he removed from thence unto the mountain on the east of Beth-el, and pitched his tent, having Beth-el on the west, and Ai on the east; and he builded there an altar unto HaShem, and called upon the name of HaShem. Rashi clarifies using the diagram below. As we go from west to east we have BethEl, Abraham's Campplace, Ai. It follows that Abraham's campplace was east of Bethel which was in the west.
------------------------------------------------------ BethEl Abraham's Campground Ai WEST EAST ------------------------------------------------------ Rashi: Abraham's campground was east of BethEl which was in the west.
Advanced Rashi: Actually BethEl and Ai are not on the same latitute. But the above picture suffices to illustrate the intent of the verse and Rashi's point.
The so-called convenant of the cuts between God and Israel Gn15-09:20 required Abraham to take 3 animals - 3 calves, 3 goats and 3 rams - and two birds. Abraham cut the animals in half but did not cut the birds. These 3 animals symbolized nations involved in power whether nations known for their work and productivity (calf-ox family), nations known for their leadership capacity (ram vs. sheep), or nations known for their stubbornness and tenacity in sticking to their traditions and culture (goat.) By splitting these animals in half Abraham symbolized that the nations of power would ultimately split up and vanish. On the other hands nations of the spirit (birds, creatures of the winds and spirit) despite their lack of power, were not split, symbolically affirming they would survive. And indeed historically, the Jews, a people of the spirit, have survived, while many more powerful nations have been split up. The secret of the Jews is that they are bonded by a spiritual commonality rather than by a geo-cultural-political commonality.
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.