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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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.
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.
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 http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rashi.pdf. I advocate enriching the Rashi explanation using a technique of parallel nifty translations in modern English. Today's examples show this.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 http://www.Rashiyomi.com for further details and examples.