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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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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
----------------------------------------------------------------------- Ashdod Mediteranean Ashkelon Gaza Gath Hebron \ GERAR \ \ GERAR RIVER Beer Sehva ------------------------------------------------------------------------
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.
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 http://www.Rashiyomi.com for further details and examples.