The 10 RashiYomi Rules
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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(c) RashiYomi Incorporated, Dr. Hendel, President,
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.


    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 Ex04-18a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: Moses' father-in-law had 7 names: Yeter, Yithro, Chovav, Reuel, etc.

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,....

Text of Target Verse Ex04-18a Text of Reference Verse Ex02-18, Ex18-01, Nu10-29
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.' And they came to Reuel their father...and he [Moses] took Tziporah his daughter for his wife....And Jethro Priest of Midyan father-in-law of Moses heard all that God did for Israel....And Moses said to Chovav, the son of Reuel, the Midianite, father in law of Moses....
Rashi comments: 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.

      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 Ex01-10a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: HAVAH = Come-on; An INTERJECTION connoting PREPARE

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 Hey-Beth has a fundamental meaning like the English interjection come-on Hence this Biblical root can mean
  • come-on [ an interjection connoting preparation ]
  • preparations, business-projects [ your business projects are those items on which you say come on. ]

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...

      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 Ex01-12b
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: And as the Egyptians abused the Jews So did the Jews KEEP MULTIPLYING and KEEP EXPANDING

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.

    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 Ex04-07a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: a)CURE: When he took it out (Immediately) b)PUNISHMENT: When he took it out COMPLETELY (delayed)

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.)

Verse Text of Verse Rashi comment
Ex04-06 And the Lord said furthermore to him, Put now your hand into your bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom; and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous, white as snow 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.)
Ex04-07 And he said, Put your hand into your bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and when he took it out from his bosom, behold, it was returned to healthy flesh.

      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 Ex05-01a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: INITIALLY the elders were suppose to go to Pharoh with Moses AT THE FINAL MOMENT the elders chickened out; only Moses came

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.

Summary Verse / Source Text of verse / Source
Initially, Moses, Aaron and the elders were suppose to go to Pharoh Ex03-16:18 Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say to them, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, ... saying, I have surely visited you, .... And they shall listen to your voice; and you shall come, you and the elders of Israel, to the king of Egypt, and you shall say to him, The Lord .... that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.
Only Moses and Aaron actually came to Pharoh to negotiate for the Jew's release Ex05-01 And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus said the Lord God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast for me in the wilderness.
Resolution: 2 Aspects 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.

    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 Ex01-20b Ex01-20a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: God dealt well with the midwives BY making them socially distinguished.

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.

    Biblical verses Ex01-20:21 forms a Biblical paragraph with a theme-detail structure:
  • Therefore God dealt well with the midwives; [who, by not following Pharoh's order to kill babies, enabled] the people to multiply, and became very mighty.
  • And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God,[as shown by their enabling the Jews to multiply] that he made them socially distinguished.

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.

    Rashi's comment is that the two verses should be read together. Here are the literal verse and Rashi comments:
  • Verse God dealth well with the midwives
  • Rashi: And how did he deal well with them?
  • Verse: God made them houses
  • Rashi: That is, God made them socially distinguished.

      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 Ex04-09b
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: AND THEY WILL BE: The water you take from the River AND THEY WILL BE: turned to blood upon arrival/spilled on land

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 is exhaustive of some spectrum.

    Verse(s) Ex04-09b discussing the miracle of turning water to blood states And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe even these two signs, neither hearken unto thy voice, that thou shalt take of the water of the river, and pour it upon the dry land;
    • and it shall be The water which thou takest out of the river [Rashi: It shall still be water]
    • and it shall be it shall become blood upon [reaching] the dry land.
    The repeated underlined phrase and it shall be 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. That is The water remained water while in Moses' hand; and only upon arrival on land when spilled did it turn to blood. This of course magnifies the miracle. It was not Moses' hand causing the water to turn to blood.

      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 Ex04-14a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: Moses refused to prophesy. God lost his temper. Moses was punished with loss of the priesthood.

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.

Verse God losing his temper Resulting punishment
Dt29-26 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against this land, to bring upon it all the curses that are written in this book;
Nu22-22, Nu31-07:08 And Godís anger was kindled because he went; and the angel of the Lord stood in the way as an adversary against him And they warred against the Midianites, as the Lord commanded Moses; and they slew all the males. And they slew the kings ...and Balaam, the son of Beor, they also slew with the sword.
Nu32-13 And the Lordís anger was kindled against Israel, , and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation, that had done evil in the sight of the Lord, was consumed.
Nu12-09:10 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them; and he departed. And the cloud departed from off the Tent and, behold, Miriam had become leprous, white as snow; and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous
=== === ===
Ex04-14 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well.

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.

      9. RASHI METHOD: NonVerse
      BRIEF EXPLANATION: The common denominator of the 3 submethods of the NonVerse 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 Ex05-11b
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: Your work is not DIMINISHED RASHI: Expected production output remains the same

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.

      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 Ex03-02b
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: God appeared to Moses in a BURNING THORNBUSH symbolizing that God was empathic to the BURNS(Pain) and LOW SLAVE STATUS (Thorns) of the Jews.

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

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 for further details and examples.