Their presence in Rashis on Parshat BeShaLaCh Volume 13, Number 25
Rashi is Simple - Volume 36 Number 25
Used in the weekly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
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Jan 28st 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 Ex17-15:16a discussing Moses' reaction to the Amalayk war states And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Adonai-nissi. And he said: 'The hand upon the throne of HaShem: HaShem will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.' Rashi notes that the underlined words, And he said: 'The hand upon the throne of HaShem: HaShem will have war with Amalek references verses Nu10-35 discussing Moses prayer at the coming and return of the ark. Hence the Rashi comment The statement in Ex17-16 that a hand is on God's throne a war of God against Amalek echoes Moses prayer in Nu10-35 Rise up, Lord, and let your enemies be scattered;
Rashi would sometimes derive the meaning of a word from the meaning of its underlying Biblical root. In applying this method Rashi would use all available grammatical methods to study the meanings of related roots. The next paragraph presents one such rule.
There are 1900 Biblical roots. Of these 1900 roots about half involve X-Vav-Y X-Y-Y X-Y-Hey pairs. These roots (with one root letter weak) often, but not always, have related meanings. Consequently, very often, but not always. one can infer the meaning of a X-Y-Y root from the related X-Y-Hey or X-Vav-Y root.
Rashi believed in two grammatical systems. He believed in the traditional tri-literial (3-letter) root methdos used to conjugate verbs and taught in all elementary schools.
Besides the conjugational root system Rashi also believed in a semantic root system. This is a separate system that enables derivation of root meaning from other roots.
For example the meaning of a 4-letter root, ABCD, is derived from the meaning of its two 2-letter subroots, ABCD = AB + CD. Similarly Rashi might derive the meaning of a traditional three letter root, ABC from a 2-letter and 1-letter subroot: ABC = A +B C or ABC=AB+C. Although these rules and equations are abstract we will present concrete examples below.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi literally says that Eylim means the strong. Rashi also cites verses to support this translation. However as indicated in the above list, I think the fundamental meaning is leader. The verses cited by Rashi can also be translated with leader. Of course, strong men are very often leaders but I think the real meaning is leader. The interested reader is encouraged to examine the verses cited by Rashi and use the meaning leader vs. strong and verify that the translation still makes sense.
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.
Today we deal with the Biblical rules governing pronoun antecedent. Biblical Hebrew has a unique approach to antecedents. In English pronouns refer to the last mentioned noun. In Hebrew pronouns refer to the most reasonable of the last few mentioned nouns.
The table below presents an aligned extract of verses in Ex15-05b:10, Ex15-07 Both verses discuss the death of the Egyptians. The alignment justifies the Rashi assertion that a) The righteous Egyptians died like a stone or lead weight sinking; They died immediately. b) However, the wicked Egyptians died like stubble bobbing up and down; they did not die immediately but had a slow death with ups and downs.
The table below presents two contradictory verses/verselets. Both verses speak about the manna. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse/verselet says the manna was like a coriander seed [note, coriander seeds are not white] while the other verse/verselet says the manna was white. We see the contradiction Which is it? was the manna white or not? Rashi simply resolves this using the 2 Aspects method: The manna resembled the coriander seed in shape, not color. Unlike the coriander seed the manna was white. But the manna was flaky-shaped like the coriander seed.
Advanced Rashi: Note that Rashi cannot be fully understood without the non-verse real world fact that coriander seeds are not white. This uses Rashi rule #9, non-verse. Also note that Rashi literally says The coriander seed is circular. However I think a more accurate description of its shape is that it is flake-shaped. Since this is a diagramatic interpretation it is also classified as non-verse. Pictures will be presented below.
Certain Biblical paragraphs are stated in a Detail-Theme form. In other words a detailed specific law is stated first followed by a thematic restatement of a broad general nature. Today's example illustrates this as shown below.
Rashi sees the detail clause 7th day as describing attributes/examples of the general clause, day of Rest, Sabbath Rashi states: Any day of rest, which like the 7th day is an official holy day for God contains a prohibition of gathering Manna. The list of holy days may be found in Lv23, and includes a) Sabbath, b) Festivals, c) New Year, d) Yom Kippur.
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: We reject Rashi's first explanation that God is a man of war: God [fights with his] name. We reject this explanation since we find God fighting with other materials besides His Name. For example P011-06 describes God's fighting as Upon the wicked he shall rain coals, fire and brimstone, and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. Thus we think Rashi's second explanation is truer. It also rings nicly - even though God fights and kills the Egyptians He is still the God of Mercy. Rashi in fact adds: Other kings when they fight, do not have time for economic and building matters. But God, even when he fights, has time for mercy.
We ask the following database query: Of the nations declaring war on the Jews what was unique about Amalayk. 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-Midrashic inference: Although many nations declared war on the Jews when they left Egypt, Amalayk was the first. It so to speak broke the ice. Therefore they were singled out for being remembered by God for destruction. The list below presents the results of the database query and shows examples.
Advanced Rashi: We explain the database inquiry. Many nations declared war. But Amalayk was first to declare war. Hence God singled them out. Of all nations declaring war only on Amalayk does it say in verse Ex17-14 And the Lord said to Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and recite it in the ears of Joshua; for I will completely put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.
Verse Ex16-31a states the manna was like a coriander seed. As can be seen from the picture cited below coriander seeds are flake-shaped and a brownish-beige in color. The diagrams below clarify the shape and color of the coriander seed. When the verse continues and calls the manna, white we have a basis for the 2 aspects resolution of the contradiction discussed in rule #5 above, that the verse compares the manna to the non-white coriander but nevertheless says that the manna was white. Rashi explains that the manna resembled the coriander in its flake-shape but did not resemble it in its color.
There are many pictures of coriander seeds on the world wide web. We are not saying one is better than the other but the following url seems rather good. http://www.worldofstock.com/closeups/PFO2685.php.
Since Rashi clarified the shape and color of the coriander seed we classify this Rashi as non-verse.
The Torah and Jewish leaders frequently reinforced needed values during specific situations using symbolism. We repeat here the database inquiry of half a dozen cases where this happens.
Advanced Rashi: Verse Ex17-11a states And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. As the above table shows Moses holding up his hand is a symbolic gesture urging prayer. So the verselet When Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, symbolically means When the Jews prayed at Moses' signal, Israel prevailed.
This week's issue contains examples of all Rashi methods. Visit the RashiYomi website at http://www.Rashiyomi.com for further details and examples.