The 10 RashiYomi Rules
Their presence in Rashis on Parshat VaYiGaSh
Volume 13, Number 20
Rashi is Simple - Volume 36 Number 20

Used in the weekly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
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Dec 24th 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 Gn45-15b
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: AFTERWARDS his brothers spoke with him (Gn45-15b) REFERENCES (Gn45-03) His brothers couldn't speak because they were frightened

Verse Gn45-15b discussing Joseph's brothers speaking with him states And he kissed all his brothers, and wept on them; and after that his brothers talked with him. Rashi notes that the underlined words, after that his brothers talked with him. references verse Gn45-03 discussing the initial fright of Joseph's brothers. Hence the Rashi comment After that (the kissing)Gn45-15b the brother's spoke with Joseph, but not before, as initially they were embarassed Gn45-03

Text of Target Verse Gn45-15b Text of Reference Verse Gn45-03
And he kissed all his brothers, and wept on them; and after that his brothers talked with him. And Joseph said to his brothers, I am Joseph; does my father still live? And his brothers could not answer him; for they were frightened from him.
Rashi comments: After that (the kissing)Gn45-15b the brother's spoke with Joseph, but not before, as initially they were embarassed Gn45-03

      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 Gn47-06a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: CHAYIL=SKILLED;GIBOR = warrior;

When Rashi uses the synonym method he does not explain the meaning of a word but rather the distinction between two similar words both of whose meanings we already know.

    The following Hebrew words all refer to military proficiency.
  • Gimel-Beth-Resh, Gibbor someone strong who can fight well;
  • Cheth-Yud-Lamed, Chayil skilled, someone who can perform military requirements quickly and efficiently.

In our article Peshat and Derash: A New Intuitive and Logical Approach, which can be found on the world-wide-web at we have advocated punchy translations of Biblical verses as a means of presenting Rashi comments. The following translation of verse Gn47-06a embeds the Rashi translation Chayil means skilled the land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and thy brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell. And if thou knowest any skilled men among them, then make them rulers over my cattle.'

Advanced Rashi: This Rashi sheds light on the famous Ayshet Chayil chapter said every Friday night. The proper translation is not Who will find a wife of valor but rather Who will find a skilled wife. This translation is also consistent with the rest of the chapter.

      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 Gn47-19b
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: ...[give us seed so that] the land will not become desolate [fallow]

Most people know that the Biblical meaning of a word is determined by its underlying three-letter root. The Biblical root can be conjugated in different a) persons, b) tenses, c) pluralities, d) genders, e) constructions and f) modalities. For example I watched Shamarti has a different conjugation then I will be watched EShaMer even though both phrases will use the same 3 letter Hebrew root.

Rashi will generally give rules of grammatical conjugation when the conjugation involves a rare form. Verse Gn47-19b has the word Tauv-Shin-Mem, TaySham which Rashi translates as become desolate; when a land lies fallow without being worked on it becomes desolate. Here Rashi views Taysham as the passive future form of the root Shin-Mem-Mem, Shamam which means to desolate. Shin-Mem-Mem is a double verb of the form, X-Y-Y and its conjugations are covered in table 10 of the appendices of the Ibn Shoshan dictionary. This table gives the form Tisham while the verse uses the actual form TaySham. Moshe Silverman's grammatical konkordance lists this verse in form #3444#13 and points out that Is51-06 gives the form Taychath for a future passive because the Cheth is a guttural letter. Moshe points out that The application of this form to the root Shin Mem Mem - Taysham/ Taychath - is peculiar since the shin is not a guttural letter.

    To recap
  • Future passive for a double root is typically Tisham
  • Future passive for a double root with a middle guttural letter uses the form Taychath
  • Future passive for the double root Shin-Mem-Mem uses the Taysham form when we would really expect Tisham.
  • Since this form is unexpected Rashi comments on it.
  • The entire verse would be translated as follows: Wherefore should we die before thine eyes, both we and our land? buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be bondmen unto Pharaoh; and give us seed, that we may live, and not die, and that the land not become desolate {from lack of ploughing].

    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 Gn47-18b
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: a) The money is GONE b) and [Gone is] the cattle c) [Gone FROM us] TO you.

    The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Gn47-18b Both verses/verselets discuss the economic helplessness of the Egyptian people who had sold all their possessions for food. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that:
      The two verse halves share their verbs. That is
    • a) The money is gone and
    • b) The cattle are gone.
    • b') The cattle [has gone from us] to you my Lord
    • c') The money [has gone from us] to you my Lord

Verse Text of Verse Rashi comment
    [Because we have sold our possessions for food]
  • our money is all gone;
  • and the herds of cattle are my lord's;
    The two verse halves share their verbs. That is
  • a) The money is gone and
  • b) The cattle are gone.
  • b') The cattle [has gone from us] to you my Lord
  • c') The money [has gone from us] to you my Lord
    [Because we have sold our possessions for food]
  • our money is all gone;
  • and the herds of cattle are my lord's;

      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 Gn47-09b
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: a) Gn47-09b says that Jacob's life at 130 did not REACH his parents life b) But Jacob didn't die till 147 (Gn47-28) How could he be sure he would die younger RASHI: Jacob's years did not REACH his parents years IN GOOD QUALITY

The table below presents two contradictory verses/verselets. Both verses speak about the smallness of Jacob's life The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse/verselet says my years (currently 130) did not reach the years of my parents, while Gn48-28 states Jacob died at 147. We see the contradiction --- If Jacob was still alive he couldn't be sure at 130 he wouldn't outlive his parents - so how could he say his life was shorter. Rashi simply resolves this using the 2 Meanings method: The number of good quality years of Jacob's life was less than the good quality years of Abraham and Isaac. Here smallness of years refers to smallness of good years. Jacob could be sure of this even before his death.

Summary Verse / Source Text of verse / Source
Jacob's years were smaller than his parents years Gn47-09b And Jacob said unto Pharaoh: 'The days of the years of my sojournings are a hundred and thirty years; few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their sojournings.'
Jacob was still alive and didn't know his age at death Gn47-28 And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years; so the whole age of Jacob was a hundred and forty seven years.
Resolution: 2 Aspects The number of good quality years of Jacob's life was less than the good quality years of Abraham and Isaac. Here smallness of years refers to smallness of good years. Jacob could be sure of this even before his death.

    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 Gn45-27b
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: GENERAL: Jacobs spirit LIVED DETAIL: God appeared to Jacob in the VISIONS of the night RASHI: The LIVING of Jacob's spirit refers solely to renewal of VISION/PROPHECY

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 Gn045-27 - Gn46-04 discussing the revival [literally: living] of Jacob's spirit states
    • General: And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said to them; and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived [literally: living];
    • Detail: And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive; I will go and see him before I die. And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. And God spoke to Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. ....
    The general clause states the spirit of Jacob lived and could mean that he recoved from his depression on the assumed death of Jacob (cf. Gn37-34:35) The detail clause provides specificity to the general clause and describes how it should be interpreted: Jacob reacquired the capacity for prophetic communion with God.

Advanced Rashi: There are several interesting points to be made on this Rashi. First: The Bible explicitly connects depression with lack of prophecy as we find with Elishah (2Ki03-15) who, while in a state of anger, needed music therapy before he could prophecy. So indeed Jacob's spirit lived could more generally refer to removal of depression but depression has many symptoms and the Bible both here and at Gn37-34:35 solely connects the depression with hell and prophecy. In other words of all symptoms of depression (e.g. lack of appetite, lack of interest in standard things) it was prophecy that Jacob loss upon hearing about Joseph's probable death and prophecy which Jacob regained when he heard he was alive. (Notice that Gn37-34:35 identifies lack of prophecy with hell.

Last year Volume 11 Number 25 I classified this Rashi as reference. But as I think it over the reference takes place within a paragraph and is more consistent with the general - detail style rule. It is however interesting how style and reference have enough commonality to get confused. They both refer to clarification of meaning. For example the famous Passover Hagaddah reference example explains the phrase Jews were few to mean There were 70 Jews when then came to Egypt. This is done through a reference of distant verses (Dt10-22 clarifies and references verse Dt26-05.). But the General-Detail or Theme-development Rabbi Ishmael Style rule also clarifies the meaning of the general clause through the detail verses that immediately follow it. Hence there is a commonality.

      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 Gn47-24b
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: I am giving you food and seed a) FOR your households [Rashi: Including servants] b) FOR your infants [Inlcuding family]

We have explained in our article Biblical Formatting located on the world wide web at, that the Biblical Author indicated bullets by using repeating keywords.

That is, if a modern author wanted to get a point across using bullets - a list of similar but contrastive items - then the Biblical Author would use repeating keywords. Today's verse illustrates this principle.

Bullets whether indicated through modern notation or through the Biblical method of repeating keywords always indicate contrastive emphasis - that is, each bullet is presumed to be a distinct item contrasted to the other items on the list. Very often the bullets are also used to indicate that the entire list of exhaustive of some spectrum.

    Verse(s) Gn47-24b discussing the food and seed which Pharoh gave the Egyptian people states And it shall come to pass at harvest time, that you shall give the fifth part to Pharaoh, and four parts shall be
    • for you, [Obvious meaning: For you, your spouses and the adults in your family]
    • for seed of the field, [Rashi: For next years planting] and
    • for your food,[Obvious meaning: Seed for you - whether for planting or for eating] and
    • for them of your households, [Rashi: Including servants] and
    • for food for your little ones.[Rashi: Including all children]
    The repeated underlined phrase for creates a bullet effect. The bullet effect in turn creates an emphasis on the distinctness of all enumerated items. Rashi interprets the distinctness as indicated in the bracketed items in the above list. Notice how Rashi applies the bullet principles: Each bullet refers to a distinct item; the bullets together should cover all cases.

      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 Gn46-01b
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: God always identifies himself as the 'God of ABRAHAM, ISAAC, and JACOB.' But Jacob at times refers simply to the 'God of ISAAC' since a person is closest to his father.

    We ask the following database query: How is the God of the Patriarchs referred to 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:
  • God invariably refers to Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob
  • However at times Jacob refers to the God of Isaac without mentioning Abraham since children often feel closest to their parents. The list below presents the results of the database query and shows examples.

Verse Verse text God of Patriarchs Who is speaking
Gn28-13 And, behold, the Lord stood above him, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, to you will I give it, and to your seed; God of Abraham, God of Isaac God
Gn31-53 The God of Abraham, and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us. God of Abraham, God of Nahor Jacob, Laban
Gn31-42 Except the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely you would have sent me away now empty. God has seen my affliction and the labor of my hands, and rebuked you last night. God of Abraham, Fear of Isaac Jacob
Gn32-10 And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the Lord who said to me, Return to your country, and to your family, and I will deal well with you; God of Abraham, God of Isaac Jacob
---- ---- ---- ----
Gn31-53 And Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac. God of Isaac Jacob
Gn46-01 And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. God of Isaac Jacob

    9. RASHI METHOD: NonVerse
    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 Gn47-21a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: Joseph bought the people's land for food and THEREFORE rotated the cities they lived in to emphasize that they were no longer land owners (Now the Egyptians were non-citizens like the Jews)

Joseph purchased the land of the Egyptian people in exchange for food and then, to emphasize their lack of ownership, rotated the residence of the inhabitants from city to city. This is stated in Gn47-20:21 And Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for the Egyptians sold every man his field, because the famine prevailed over them; so the land became Pharaoh’s. And [Rashi: Therefore to emphasize their lack of ownership] he moved them to cities from one end of the borders of Egypt to the other end of it. Rashi in this comment uses real world values to explain why Joseph rotated the residences of the people. Since Rashi uses real-world values to explain the causal relationship between the acquisition of the cities and the rotating of residences we classify this Rashi as NonVerse.

Advanced Rashi: Rashi makes additional real-world comments. The rotation of the residences was not an important detail. The Biblical text hilights this detail [right after the chapter relating how Joseph's family, the Jews, come to Egypt and find they are sojourners] to show how Joseph made his family comfortable, by treating the Egyptians like sojourners since they also no longer owned their own land.


This week's special issue contains no examples of the grammar, alignment, style, format Rashi methods. Visit the RashiYomi website at for further details and examples.