The 10 RashiYomi Rules
Their presence in Rashis on Parshat ToLeDoTh
Volume 13, Number 15
Rashi is Simple - Volume 36 Number 15

Used in the weekly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
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(c) RashiYomi Incorporated, Dr. Hendel, President,
Nov 19-th 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 Gn28-04a
    URL Reference: (c)

Verse Gn28-04a discussing Isaac's blessing to Jacob states and give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land of thy sojournings, which G-d gave unto Abraham.' Rashi notes that the underlined words, the blessing of Abraham references verses Gn12-02, Gn22-18 discussing the blessings that God gave Abraham. Hence the Rashi comment The statement in Gn28-04a that Isaac blessed Jacob to receive the blessings of Abraham references verses like Gn12-02,Gn22-18 which state that Abraham will become a great nation and that all nations will be blessed through him.

Text of Target Verse Gn28-04a Text of Reference Verse Gn12-02,Gn22-18
And give you the blessing of Abraham, and to your seed with you; that you may inherit the land where you are a stranger, which God gave to Abraham. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing; And in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because you have obeyed my voice
Rashi comments: The statement in Gn28-04a that Isaac blessed Jacob to receive the blessings of Abraham references verses like Gn12-02,Gn22-18 which state that Abraham will become a great nation and that all nations will be blessed through him.

      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 Gn27-44a Gn26-10a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: Dwell with him a FEW days (ONES means a FEW) The FIRST of the nation (the King) almost slept with her.

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 Aleph-Cheth-Daleth has a fundamental meaning of one. Hence this Biblical root can mean
  • one
  • first [ the first is number one in a list ]
  • distinguished [ the first or choicest in the group ]
  • unity [ many becoming one ]
  • a few [ ones means a few ]

Applying the above translation to Gn27-44a discussing the duration of Jacob's flee to Laban we obtain and dwell with him ones of days [a few days] until your brother's anger assuages Similarly applying the above translation to Gn26-10a discussing Isaac's hiding his wife's identity we obtain And Abimelech said: 'What is this thou hast done unto us? the first of the people [the King] might easily have lain with thy wife, and thou wouldest have brought guiltiness upon us.'

Advanced Rashi: In the Gn27-44a example the English translation naturally embeds the translation few into the verse.

      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 Gn28-02a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: The Hebrew PadenaH (Suffix Hey) is equivalent to LePadan (prefix Lamed) In both cases the suffix hey/prefix lamed means TO (To Padan)

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 discuss a grammatical rule unique to Hebrew. The rule is quite simple: You can indicate the preposition to by either
    • attaching a prefix Lamed before the word
    • attaching a suffix Hey after the word.
    Hence the verse Gn28-02a Get up, Go Paden-ah Aram has the same meaning as Get up, go to Paden Aram. Here the suffix letter hey indicated by the underlined ah means to.

    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 Gn27-29a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: A) ISAAC to ESAUV: Your MOTHER's children will bow to you B) JACOB to JUDAH: Your FATHER's children will bow to you RASHI: Jacob had 4 wives so he said FATHER; Isaac who had one wife, said MOTHER

The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Gn27-29a Gn49-08. Both verses/verselets discuss blessings of rulership over siblings. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: Jacob had many wives. So he blessed Judah that his father's children would bow to him since father's children includes more than mother's children. By contrast Isaac had one wife. So he could use the term mother's children since it was as inclusive as father's children.

Verse Text of Verse Rashi comment
Gn27-29a [Isaac to Esauv] Your mother's children will bow to you. Jacob had many wives. So he blessed Judah that his father's children would bow to him since father's children includes more than mother's children. By contrast Isaac had one wife. So he could use the term mother's children since it was as inclusive as father's children.
Gn49-08 [Jacob to Judah] Your father's children will bow to you.

      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 Gn27-19c
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: a) Please Get up and b) Please sit at the table

The table below presents two contradictory verses/verselets. Both verses/verselets talk about the delivery of food by Esauv to Isaac for purposes of blessing. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse/verselet says please get up while the other verse/verselet says please sit down. Which is it? Was it a request to get up or sit down? Rashi simply resolves this using the 2 stages method: Esauv requested that Isaac 1st) get up and 2nd) sit down at the dinner table so that Esauv could serve him the venizon he caught.

Summary Verse / Source Text of verse / Source
Please get up Gn27-19c
    And Jacob said unto his father: 'I am Esau thy first-born; I have done according as thou badest me.
  • Please get up
  • and then please sit down [at the dinner table so that]
  • you can eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me.
Please sit down Gn27-19c
    And Jacob said unto his father: 'I am Esau thy first-born; I have done according as thou badest me.
  • Please get up
  • and then please sit down [at the dinner table so that]
  • you can eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me.
Resolution: 2 Stages Esauv requested that Isaac 1st) get up and 2nd) sit down at the dinner table so that Esauv could serve him the venizon he caught.

    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 Gn25-31b Gn25-32a Gn25-34a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: Esauv did not want the birthright - he wanted a life of eating and drinking.

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.

    Note the theme-detail-theme structure of the following Biblical paragraph, Gn25-31:34 which states And Jacob said, Sell me this day your birthright.
  • Theme: And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point of death; and what profit shall this birthright do to me?
  • Detail: And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he swore to him; and he sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentils; and he did
    • eat and
    • drink
  • Theme: and rose up, and went his way; thus Esau despised his birthright.

Hence the Rashis on the above paragraph: Esauv lived a life of eating and drinking. Such a lifestyle is inconsistent with the Priesthood which requires a lifestyle speckled with abstention. As a simple example a priest who served while intoxicated could be liable to a death penalty. [Note: Initially the firstborn (birthright) served as priests and hence the identification of birthright and priesthood.]

The driving force behind Rashi is the re-interpretation of the Biblical phrase eat and drink as developmental details of the Biblical phrase did not want the birthright. Precisely because of the paragraph structure Rashi perceives the eating and drinking not as incidental items but as reflections and clarifications of did not want the priesthood. This is the essence of the style method.

Advanced Rashi: Rashi also teaches us basic etiquette. Jacob could have said: Look the Priesthood will be given to me and not to you; why don't you just cooperate and willfully give it to me; that way it looks better for you. This is an argument based on politics, power and authority. Instead the Bible approaches this as an argument based on lifestyle. Jacob's lifestyle belonged with the Priesthood; Esauv's lifestyle did not. It is always best to approach appointments based on merit instead of authority.

      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 Gn27-41a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: I am waiting to kill my brother till my father naturally dies since I don't want my father upset.

    The Formatting rule includes the methods of writing consecutive paragraph or sentences. Just as a paragraph is a collection of sentences unified by a topic sentence and developed by supporting sentences, so too, a chapter very often has a theme that is developed by a skillfully sequenced set of paragraphs. Rashi knew of 3 methods of writing consecutive paragraphs
    • Cause-effect: The second paragraph is the effect of the first paragraph. The first paragraph is the cause of the second paragraph.
    • Contrast: The two paragraphs illustrate contrasting sides of a theem.
    • Unified theme: The two or more paragraphs illustrate a common theme. For example a common theme may be illustrated by a sequence of paragraphs each of which exemplifies and illustrates the theme idea.
    The above three principles indicate methods for paragraph development into chapters as well as method for sentence development into paragraphs.

We formerly classified paragraph and chapter development under the grammar rule. However we think it more proper to devote the grammar rule to the relation between meaning and form, for example how verb conjugational forms indicates meaning. As indicated above the formatting rule governs use of sequence to indicate climax and paragraph sequencing.

    Rashi on Gn27-41a explains the sequence in two paragraphs/sentences indicating a cause-effect relationship.
  • Gn27-41a And Esauv thought to himself: My fathers [death and subsequent] mourning period are close by and [only then, after his death]
  • Gn27-41a will I kill Jacob my brother.

Advanced Rashi: Rashi's point is that My father whom I love is a deterrent to killing Jacob. I don't want to cause my father anguish by killing my brother, his son, during his lifetime. So I will wait till after my father's death to kill my brother. If we examine this Rashi closely we see that Rashi is seeing the first verse half - the death and mourning period for my father - as causing, or more precisely enabling, the second verse half - the murder of my brother.

      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 Gn25-23d Gn25-23e Gn25-22a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: God communicates prophecy thru symbolic acts: a) 2 infants fighting = 2 nations at war; b) Esauv hairy/ruddy = Edom fights like an animal c) Jacob grabbed Esauv by heal = Smaller Jewish nation overpowers bigger power.

    We ask the following database query: Does God communicate prophecy explicitly or thru 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: God communicates prophecy through symbolic items. The list below presents the results of the database query and provides examples.

Verse Symbol mentioned Meaning of symbol
Jr01-13:14 Burning pot in north Burning anti-semitism of Northern nations
Ex17-11 Jews were victorious when Moses raised his hands Jews were victorious when they responded to his call for prayer
Is20-02:06 Isiah walks naked 3 years Egypt will be exiled and its citizens will be without clothes
Gn25-22:26 2 infants fight in womb 2 nations at war with each other [Jews vs Esauv]
Gn25-22:26 One infant is hairy and ruddy One nation fights like an animal
Gn25-22:26 Jacob holding heal of Esauv Weaker nation will hold more powerful nation at bay

    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 Gn24-08a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: Avimelech said to Isaac - depart from Gerar because you have amassed to much wealth So Isaac moved to the Gerar River [RASHI: Close to Gerar but not in Gerar]

Verse Gn26-16:17 discussing the Gerarian reaction to Isaac's amassment of wealth states And Abimelech said to Isaac, Go from us; for you have become significantly wealthier than us And Isaac departed from there, and pitched his tent in the Gerar river, and lived there. Rashi explains The Gerar river was outside of Gerar but nearby. Rashi's intent is that presumably Isaac could maintain the ties he made with friends in Gerar while being sufficiently far away to please his enemies. The map below shows the SouthWest part of Israel. Archaeologists typically identify Gerar River with the Besor River which is the border of the Negev. The river empties at Gaza into the Mediteranean. Geo-politically Rashi implies the following: One always needs water. So by residing by the Gerar river Isaac appeared to distance himself from Gerar but in reality he positioned himself in a strategic location where people would frequent. This enabled healing wounds and reuniting if Avimelech wanted. In fact Avimelech made a treaty with Isaac later and it is very plausible that Isaac's selection of a strategic geographic location facilitated this treaty.


             Gaza           Gath	           Hebron
             \      GERAR  
               \  GERAR RIVER      Beer Sehva

      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, Nu-07
      • (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 Gn25-30b
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: Circular red lentils were eaten during mourning: Red symbolizes the life blood that is now gone.

Verse Gn25-30:34 discussing the food Jacob gave Esauv, who had come home hungry from a hunt, states. And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I beg you, with that red red; for I am famished; therefore was his name called Edom [ruddy] Jacob had given Esau bread and a pottage of lentils; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way; thus Esau despised his birthright.

In Rule1120, Rule #7, Formatting we have explained that the repeated underlined word red red means intentionally red. Then in Rule 1120, rule #9, Spreadsheets we have explained that it is reasonable - based on the age of Esauv and Jacob at the time of death of Grandpa Abraham and the conversation of Jacob and Esauv which is typical of teenage years - to assume that this whole incident happened during the week of mourning for Grandpa Abraham. It is then plausible that the lentils were intentionally red because red lentils are eaten during the week of mourning.

    We now explain specifically how red is symbolic of mourning and also more generally we explain how the shape of lentils is symbolic of mourning:
  1. Red symbolizes the blood and life which is now lost and departed;
  2. Lentils are circular symbolizing the circular physical life cycle - starting at birth, rising in mid-age, and ending in death
  3. Lentils are closed objects without punctures symbolizing the muted helpless silence of the dead.

Advanced Rashi: Rashi only mentions bullets #2 and #3. We have supplemented Rashi with rule #1. The symbolism, red equals life which is now lost is obvious. Also the verse explicitly mentions the redness, it even repeats it, to emphasize that the redness was intentional. So indeed we must explain it.

Rashi however left it to the teacher to explain the obvious (red=life) and instead explained the non-obvious, the circular and closed nature of lentils. We think this approach - viewing Rashi as explaining the non-obvious and supplementing Rashi with the explicitly stated and obvious - is a proper approach to enriching Rashi.


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