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

Used in the weekly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
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(c) RashiYomi Incorporated, Dr. Hendel, President,
Nov 5th 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 Gn18-17b
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: (Gn18-17b) Shall I, God, hide from Abraham, what I am about TO DO. REFERENCES: Gn18-20 God's plan to destroy Sedom-Amorah.

Verse Gn18-17b discussing God not hiding planned future action from Abraham states And HaShem said: 'Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing; Rashi notes that the underlined words, what I am doing, references verses Gn18-20:21 discussing God's intended destruction of Sedom and Amorah. Hence the Rashi comment The statement in Gn18-17 shall I, God, hide from Abraham what I am doing references Gn18-20 discussing the destruction of Sedom and Amorah.

Text of Target Verse Gn18-17b Text of Reference Verse Gn18-20:21
And HaShem said: 'Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing; And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry, [and if so] if will destroy them; and if not, I will teach them a lesson.
Rashi comments: The statement in Gn18-17 shall I, God, hide from Abraham what I am doing references Gn18-20 discussing the destruction of Sedom and Amorah.

    Advanced Rashi: Rashi brings in several other references:
  • Rashi cites Gn10-19 Sedom/Amorah define the border of Canaan which will be given to Abraham one day
  • and Gn17-04 Abraham will become a great nation
  • Rashi adds Since God intended to destroy Sedom/Amorah which were on the border of the nation that God promised Abraham, therefore God felt ethically obligated to tell Abraham about the destruction of Sedom and Amorah.

      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 Gn18-12b
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: Ayin-Daleth= UNTIL and therefore means a) HOPE, the emotion of waiting UNTIL success happens as well as b) LONG-TERM-PLEASURE, an emotional state where there is initially work UNTIL pleasure is reached

When Rashi uses, what we may losely 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 Ayin-Daleth has a fundamental meaning of until. Hence this Biblical root can mean
  • hope [ the emotion of waiting unitl success ]
  • joy of seeing children grow up (Pr29-17) [ an emotion characterized by the initial work and frustration of raising children until they mature and are productive ]
  • marital joys [ this refers not to instant relations but to prolonged relations characterized by an initial maintaining of tension until the joy comes in the end. ]

Applying the above translation to Gn18-12b discussing God's promise to give Sarah a child in her old age we obtain Sarah laughed [in surprise] over the possible pregnancy: "After I have withered I will have the joys [of raising children or of young marital relations] and my husband is old.

Advanced Rashi: We have interpreted the Hebrew Ayin-Daleth-Nun-Hey as referring to drawn out joys where initially one starts with much work and frustration and little joy until one has much joy. Two primary examples of such drawn-out joys are: a) the joys of raising children and b) marital joys. Both these joys are applicable to this verse discussing Sarah giving birth.

Rashi also mentions another possibility: Ayin-Daleth-Nun-Hey refers to the resumption of the menstrual cycle. However the periodic menstrual cycle has little to do with the other meanings of Ayin-Daleth until and joy. I would therefore argue that the menstrual cycle is perceived as a time of abstention from (intimate) marital relations and consequently the reference here would be to the type of marital relations one has in a relationship with alternating periods of abstention and indulgence. I would also argue that the relations in these types of marriages are characterized by until-ness.

One could further argue that the simple meaning of the verse refers to the joy of raising children since the verse speaks about Sarah having a child. Rashi therefore supplements this primary meaning of joy by pointing out that the verse secondarily refers to the joy of marital relations in a situation where there is a cycle of abstention and indulgence; in other words despite her old age Sarah would resume having until relations characterized by length and buildup.

      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 Gn18-09b
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: The angels said "Where is Sarah your wife" and Abraham said: "UNEXPECTEDLY she is inside" RASHI: She is modest.

Rashi lived before the era of Grammatical textbooks. Hence one of his functions was to teach the rules of grammar similar to modern textbooks. One aspect of grammar deals with the proper use of connectives. A classical approach to connectives is to list the multiple meanings they can take. Todays example illustrates this.

The Hebrew connective Hey-Nun-Hey, Hinnay has one basic meaning. These basic meaning is unexpectedly. Several examples are presented in the table below.

Meaning of Hey-Nun-Hey, unexpectedly A Supportive Verse Sample Biblical Text Rashi clarification
unexpectedly Ex23-20 Unexpectedly I,God, will send an angel to lead you The Jews thought God would lead them but since they will sin only an Angel will lead them
unexpectedly Ex07-15 Go to Pharoh, unexpectedly he is going out to the river You might think that King would stay in the palace all day. But he brags that he is a god and doesn't have bathroom needs He fulfills his needs early by the river so as to fool people
unexpectedly Ex04-14b Moses, go back to Egypt; unexpectedly Aaron your brother is going out to happily greet you You might think that since he is older and established in Egypt he wanted the leadership position; but you will see that he is genuinely happy for you.
unexpectedly Gn18-09b The angels asked 'Where is Sarah you wife' and Abraham said: 'Unexpectedly she is inside' She is a modest person and stays insides when guests come.

    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 Gn19-16b
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: 2 angels: One to SAVE LOT, one to DESTROY SEDOM a) Hence only ONE angel told lot FLEE FOR YOUR LIFE b) But TWO angels told him to leave (Save him;destroy city)

The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Gn19-16b, Gn19-17 Both verses/verselets discuss communications to Lot during the destruction of Sedom. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: There were two angels - one to destroy Sedom and one to save Lot. Hence only one angel - (he said) - told Lot to flee, the angel in charge of saving Lot. But both angels - (they said) - told Lot to leave Sedom since a) Sedom couldn't be destroyed till Lot left and b) by leaving Sedom Lot became protected.

Verse Text of Verse Rashi comment
  • they grabbed him (his wife and children)....
  • they ousted him and
  • they placed him outside the city....
  • he said to him: 'Flee for your life'
There were two angels - one to destroy Sedom and one to save Lot. Hence only one angel - (he said) - told Lot to flee, the angel in charge of saving Lot. But both angels - (they said) - told Lot to leave Sedom since a) Sedom couldn't be destroyed till Lot left and b) by leaving Sedom Lot became protected.
  • they grabbed him (his wife and children)....
  • they ousted him and
  • they placed him outside the city....
  • he said to him: 'Flee for your life'

      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 Gn18-01d
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: a) It was hot but b) Abraham sat by the tent door RASHI: To seek passerbys to offer them hospitality

The table below presents two contradictory verses/verselets. Both verses/verselets talk about the daily weather. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse/verselet says it was very hot while the other verse/verselet says Abraham sat by the tent door. Which is it? Was it breezy enough to set by the door or was it hot? Rashi simply resolves this using the 2 aspects method: While it was too hot to sit by the door it was also too hot to be outside. Abraham therefore sat by the door in order to provide hospitality to passerbys.

Summary Verse / Source Text of verse / Source
It was hot Gn18-01d
    And HaShem appeared unto him by the terebinths of Mamre,
  • as he sat in the tent door
  • in the heat of the day;
He sat by the tent door Gn18-01d
    And HaShem appeared unto him by the terebinths of Mamre,
  • as he sat in the tent door
  • in the heat of the day;
Resolution: 2 Aspects While it was too hot to sit by the door it was also too hot to be outside. Abraham therefore sat by the door in order to provide hospitality to passerbys.

    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 Gn19-33c, Gn18-09a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: GENERAL: Our father is old PARTICULAR: And no other man is around from which to have children

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 Gn19-31a discussing the seduction of Lot by his daughters states
    • General: Our father is old
    • Detail: and there is no men around to have relations with
    The general clause states our father is old and could mean he is incapable of having children, or he is close to death. The detail clause provides specificity to the general clause and describes how it should be interpreted: Our father is old. Although he can still reproduce he is close to death and we will have no other opportunity. Therefore let us seduce him so we can have children.

      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 Gn18-09a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: And they asked [him] where is Sarah your wife. RASHI: The word [him] is sticken - They asked Abe for Sarah and Sarah for Abe.

When a modern author wishes to deemphasize a concept they will strike it out. When the Biblical author wishes to deemphasize a concept He places dots over it. The dots in the Biblical version, or the strikeout in the modern version, indicate deemphasis.

    There are 7 examples of dotting or strikeout in the Bible. They are presented in the list below along with the accompanying Rashi interpretation. In each case Rashi interprets the verse as if the word was Stricken out.
    • Nu03-39a: All that were numbered of the Levites, whom Moses and Aaron numbered at the commandment of HaShem, by their families, all the males from a month old and upward, were twenty and two thousand. Rashi: Aaron was stricken from the census--that is he wasn't counted since he was a Levite.
    • Gn33-04b: And Esau ran to meet him [Jacob], and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him; and they wept. Rashi: The kiss should be stricken from the record! It wasn't a real (i.e. sincere) kiss since Esau really hated Jacob. Rashi offers an alternative explanation: The kiss should be stricken from the record since it was the only sincere kiss. All other kisses were insincere.
    • Dt29-29a: The secret things [sins] belong unto HaShem our G-d; but the things [sins] that are revealed belong [are visited] unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law. Rashi: Revealed should be stricken. Revealed sins weren't always visited upon the community; they weren't visited upon the community till after the conquest of Israel in the time of Joshua.
    • Gn37-12a: And his brethren went to shepard their father's flock in Shechem. Rashi: The word shepard should be stricken out since they didn't really go to shepard sheep; rather they went to escape their father who favored Joseph.
    • Nu09-10a: Speak unto the children of Israel, saying: If any man of you or of your generations shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey afar off, yet he shall keep the passover unto HaShem; Rashi: The requirement far off should be stricken. One need not be absolutely far away - but far away enough not to be able to come to Jerusalem.
    • Gn18-09: And they said to him: 'Where is Sarah thy wife?' And he said: 'Behold, in the tent.' Rashi: The phrase to him should be stricken. They said it generally, not just to him. When they met Abraham they said to him where is your spouse. Similarly when they met Sarah they said where is your spouse.
    • Gn19-33c And they made their father drink wine that night; and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. Rashi: The phrase nor when she arose is dotted indicating a strikeout: Lot really did know when she arose and even so did not avoid a recurrence on the 2nd night with his second daughter. [How can Rashi say he did know if the verse explicitly say he didn't know? Probably Rashi meant that e.g. he had a visual sexual dream about the affair so he really suspected 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 Gn22-03a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: HE GAT UP EARLY IN THE MORNING is only mentioned half a dozen times and typically indicates enthusiastic waking to perform prophetic orders

We ask the following database query: When is waking up early in the morning mentioned in the Bible. 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: The phrase waking up early in the morning is typically used to indicate an enthusiasm to perform prophetic orders. The list below presents the results of the database query.

Verse Reason for getting up early Prophecy involved
Gn20-08 To alert people that Sarah was a married woman Prophetic threat by God to punish Avimelech for taking Sarah
Gn21-14 To send Ishmael away Prophetic order by God to harken to Sarah's request to banish Ishmael
Ex34-04 To receive second set of 10 commandments Prophetic order by God to receive the 2nd set
Gn22-03 To journey to a mountain to bind Isaac Prophetic order by God to bind Isaac
Gn28-18 To dedicate Bethel as a place of God Prophetic dream promising Jacob Bethel and Israel

    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 Gn21-23a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: Avimelech asked for treaty-respect from Abraham to a) me, b) my children and c) my grandchildren. RASHI: People feel close to children/grandchildren but not to great-grand-children.

When Avimelech sought a treaty from Abraham he said Gn21-23 Now therefore swear unto me here by G-d that thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son's son; but according to the kindness that I have done unto thee, thou shalt do unto me, and to the land wherein thou hast sojourned.' Rashi clarifies that People feel close to their children and grandchildren but do not feel especially close to great-grandchildren. Here Rashi brings in real-world facts - the degree of closeness people feel to descendants - and uses this real-world fact to clarify the verse: The verse mentions children and grandchildren but not descendants in general and not great-grandchildren. Since Rashi uses real-world facts to clarify the verse we classify this Rashi as a non-verse method.

      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 Gn22-13e
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: Sacrifices with their rich animal and fire imagery inspire prophetic dreams. By offering a ram Abraham hoped to enable Isaac to obtain prophetic status.

In this email list we can only touch on basic symbolic ideas. Full proofs of these ideas may be found elsewhere. In my article on symbolism cited above I show that the sacrificial procedures with their rich fire and animal symbolism had as their goal the inspiration of prophetic visions such as the prophetic fire visions described in Isiah 6 and Ezekiel 1. The primary purpose of the sacrifices were lofty, mature and sophisticated procedures designed to help man reach his highest goals, prophecy.

A prophecy has at its root a fire-vision such as those of Ezekiel Ez01 and those of Isiah Is06. A ceremony with fire facilitates triggering prophetic fire-visions in those people with proper moral and ethical preparation. Thus a primary purpose of animal sacrifices was inspiration of prophetic fire visions. The sacrifice of the ram in place of Isaac refers to the idea that the ram sacrifice with its rich fire-symbolism was done for (or in place of) Isaac, in order, to enable him to achieve prophecy.


This week's parshah contains examples of all the Rashi methods. Visit the RashiYomi website at for further details and examples.