Their presence in Rashis on Parshat SheMoTh Volume 13, Number 22
Rashi is Simple - Volume 36 Number 22
Used in the weekly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
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Jan 7th 2010
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 Ex04-18a discussing Moses' return to his father-in-law states And Moses went and returned to Yeser his father-in-law, and said unto him: 'Let me go, I pray thee, and unto my brethren that are in Egypt, and see whether they be yet alive.' And Jethro said to Moses: 'Go in peace.' Rashi notes that the underlined words, Yeser his father-in-law....Jethro references verses Ex02-18, Ex18-01, Nu10-29 discussing Moses' father-in-law. Hence the Rashi comment Moses father-in-law had 7 names: Jethro, Yeser, Chovav, Reuel,....
Advanced Rashi: There are several aspects to Rashi. We have only dwelt on one of them. Rashi explains Why did Moses return to Yeser. To seek permission to return to Egypt because he had promised him not to leave. We will discuss these other aspects of Rashi on other occasions.
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 Ex01-10a discussing Pharoh's intention to enslave the Jews we obtain Come-on: Let us outsmart him [The Jews] Otherwise he might multiply And then if a war breaks out He might join our enemies and leave the land
Advanced Rashi: Actually there is a controversy between Rashi and the Radack. Rashi holds Havah always indicates preparation, while by contrast Radack holds that it can sometimes mean motion since preparation goes with motion while laziness goes with idleness. Consequently Radack translates Ru03-15 as please bring your kerchief and hold it and she held it and he measured 6 barley measures.... But I suggest that Rashi could comfortably translate this verse as prepare your kerchief and hold it and she held it and he measured 6 barley measures...
Today's Rashi deals with tenses. Most people know that verbs can indicate action in specific periods of time such as future e.g. I will eat the apple, past e.g. I ate the apple, and present e.g. I am eating the apple. The present itself has several forms such as simple present e.g. I am eating the apple, habitual present e.g. I eat an apple every day, informational present e.g. To avoid sickness I eat an apple. Both the past and future can also have habitual and progressive and informational forms.
We must carefully distinguish between meaning and conjugation. The last paragraph enumerated close to a dozen types of meanings associated with verbs. But there are only 3 major conjugations associated with verbs. Consequently the grammarian must learn how to select conjugations that indicate meaning. Furthermore, since there are more meanings than conjugations it follows that the same conjugation can mean different things.
Rashi translates Ex01-12b discussing the abuse of the Jews And as they [the Egyptians] abused him [the Jews] so he [keeps on] multiplys[ing] and expands.... In this sentence the sense of the phrase so he multiplies... is continuous action that happened in the past, is happening at the time of the abuse and will happen in the future. In other words the meaning of the verse is habitual.
We now understand the Rashi: The verse uses a future conjugation to indicate the habitual. Here Rashi is explaining that the future conjugation besides being used to indicate a future meaning can also be used to indicate the habitual meaning.
Here is yet a simpler way to understand Rashi: You are not obligated to translate the verse as as they abused him so he will multiply and expand. It is best to translate the verse as they abused him so he multiplys and expands. This has the same sense as a as they abused him so he keeps on multiplying and keeps on expanding.
The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Ex04-06, Ex04-07. Both verses/verselets discuss punishment/cure of leprosy on Moses hand. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: Taking his hand out of his bossom resulted in both punishment and cure of leprosy. But by the difference in phraseology we see that a) the cure was immediate (as soon as he started to take his hand out of his bossom) while b) the punishment was delayed (his hand didn't turn leprous until it was completely taken out of his bossom.)
The table below presents two contradictory verses/verselets. Both verses speak about coming to Pharoh to negotiate the release of the Jews. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse/verselet says Moses, Aaron and the elders would go to Pharoh and ask for the release of the Jews while the other verse/verselet says Moses and Aaron went to Pharoh to ask for the release of the Jews We see the contradiction Which is it? Did the elders go to Pharoh or not? Rashi simply resolves this using the 2 Stages method: Initially Moses, Aaron and the elders were suppose to go to Pharoh to negotiate the release of the Jews; but At the final moment only Moses and Aaron came. Apparently the elders chickened out at the last momemnt.
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. The style rule requires that we interpret the general theme with special focus on the attributes of the illustrative detail selected. Today's example illustrates this as shown below.
Rashi paraphrased comments: The two sentences form one paragraph. That is the statement in the first theme sentence God dealt well with the midwives refers to the details mentioned in the second detail sentence God made them socially distinguished.
We have explained in our article Biblical Formatting located on the world wide web at http://www.Rashiyomi.com/biblicalformatting.pdf, 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 is exhaustive of some spectrum.
We ask the following database query: Does the phrase God lost his temper correlate with anything? 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: Every occurrence of God losing his temper is followed by a punishment except for Ex04-14. We are therefore justified in re-interpreting Ex04-14 to be consistent with this principle: Because Moses refused prophetic leadership he lost the right to have the Priesthood which was given to Aaron. The list below presents the results of the database query.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi's point is that Even though no punishment is explicitly mentioned in Ex04-14 nevertheless because of the database query we are justified in seeing the underlined words Aaron the Levite as a hint justifying the inference: Aaron was suppose to be Levite and Moses was suppose to acquire the Priesthood but Moses was deprived of the Priesthood because he refused leadership until God lost his temper. Again: The driving force of Rashi is not an emphasis on extra words but rather the database query which shows that a punishment is missing in the verse which therefore has to be supplied by hints.
Verse Ex05-11b discussing Pharoh's harsh work orders on the Jews that wanted a holiday with their God states Go yourselves, get you straw where ye can find it; for your work shall not be diminished.. Rashi clarifies the underlined word diminished as meaning the numerical quantity of output that is required remains the same. In other words Rashi interprets diminished in a mathematical sense. Since Rashi interprets diminished numerically we classify this Rashi as using the spreadsheet method.
Verse Ex03-02b describing the Revelation of God to Moses in the thornbush states And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a thornbush; and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. Rashi, using the symbolism of the fire and thornbush states God appeared with burns from the midst of the suffering and pain. Here Rashi interprets fire and thornbush as indicating pain and suffering. The verse, according to this interpretation indicates that God was empathic with the suffering of the Jews.
Advanced Rashi: We can not fully defend the symbolic Rashi's in a newsletter of this size. We refer the more interested reader to my article on symbolism, available on the world-wide-web at http://www.Rashiyomi.com/gen-1.htm.
Finally I point out that we in no way intend to exhaust the explanation of the Rashi with the above. There is a rich literature on the symbolism of the burning thornbush. We have given the basic ideas by which it should be examined.
This week's special issue contains examples of all Rashi methods. Visit the RashiYomi website at http://www.Rashiyomi.com for further details and examples.