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


    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 Ex17-16a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: The statement A hand on God's thrown, God's war on Amalayk (Ex17-16a) REFERENCES Moses' prayer to fight Jewish enemies (Nu10-35)

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;

Text of Target Verse Ex17-15:16a Text of Reference Verse Nu10-35
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.' And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, Lord, and let your enemies be scattered; and let them who hate you flee before you.
Rashi comments: 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;

      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 Ex15-11a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: Aleph-Lamed = The PERSON/ANIMAL/PLANT (Aleph) TO (lamed) which others turn: a) Ram, b) Leader, c) God, d) Oak/Cedar

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.

    Rav Hirsch following Rashi (Jb38-28) explains that the letter Aleph can refer to a person, animal, thing. Some simple examples are
  • Aleph-Caph-Resh The farmer, the person Aleph who Careh digs.
  • Aleph-Beth-Nun The stone, the thing Aleph used for Boneh building.
  • Aleph-Gimel-Lamed The droplet, a thing Aleph that Golel rolls. (Rashi, Jb38-28)
  • Aleph-Beth-Daleth loss, Bad isolated from a person Aleph.
  • Aleph-Lamed ram, leader, god, oak/cedar, the animal, person, plant Aleph lamed to which others turn.

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.

      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 Ex17-12a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: MOSES AARON AND CHUR went up the mountain. MOSES' hands were heavy. THEY [Rashi: Aaron and Chur] took a stone to support his hands

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.

    There are many classical aspects to grammar whether in Hebrew or other languages. They include
  • The rules for conjugating verbs. These rules govern how you differentiate person, plurality, tense, mode, gender, mood, and designation of the objects and indirect objects of the verb. For example how do you conjugate, in any language, I sang, we will sing, we wish to sing, she sang it.
  • Rules of agreement. For example agreement of subject and verb, of noun and adjective; whether agreement in gender or plurality.
  • Rules of Pronoun reference.
  • Rules of word sequence. This is a beautiful topic which is not always covered in classical grammatical 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.

    We apply the preceding analysis to Ex17-12a. We cite the verse and insert comments on pronoun referents in brackets. The underlines show the continual changes in subjects.
  • Moses, Aaron and Chur went up the hill;
  • And Moses' hands were heavy
  • They [Aaron and Chur] took a stone and placed it under him [Moses] for support

    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 Ex13-09c
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: a) RIGHTEOUS Egyptians sunk like lead - died immediately b) WICKED Egyptians died like stubble - died gradually.

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.

Verse Text of Verse Rashi comment
Ex15-05,10 The depths have covered them; they sank to the bottom as a stone. ...sinking like lead in turbulent waters a) The righteous Egyptians died like a stone or lead weight sinking; They died immediately. However
Ex15-07 And in the greatness of your excellency you have overthrown those that rose up against you; you sent forth your anger, which consumed them as stubble. b) ... the wicked Egyptians died like stubble bobbing up and down; they did not die immediately but had a slow death with ups and downs.

      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 Ex16-31a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: a) The manna resembled the coriander seed and was white b) But coriander seed was not white RASHI: Manna resembled GAD seed in SHAPE (flake-shaped) but not color.

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.

Summary Verse / Source Text of verse / Source
Manna was white Ex16-31a The manna was like a coriander seed, white
Manna was like a coriander seed (which was not white) Ex16-31a The manna was like a coriander seed, white
Resolution: 2 Aspects 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.

    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 Ex16-26a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: No gathering of manna on the ... DETAIL: Seventh day. GENERAL: REST Day. RASHI: All REST days - Sabbath, Holidays, Yom Kippur.

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.

    Verse Ex16-26a discussing the requirement not to do work on certain days to gather the Manna states Six days you should gather it [manna]
    • Detail: and on the 7th day
    • General: the Day of Rest, Sabbath
    there will be no manna [to gather - so you should not gather]

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.

    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 Ex15-03b
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: GOD is a man of war [But nevertheless] GOD [the merciful] is his [real name]

    The Formatting rule includes the methods of writing consecutive paragraph or sentences. Just as a paragraph is a collection of sentences unified by a topic sentence and developed by supporting sentences, so too, a chapter very often has a theme that is developed by a skillfully sequenced set of paragraphs. Rashi knew of 3 methods of writing consecutive paragraphs
    • Cause-effect: The second paragraph is the effect of the first paragraph. The first paragraph is the cause of the second paragraph.
    • Contrast: The two paragraphs illustrate contrasting sides of a theme.
    • Unified theme: The two or more paragraphs illustrate a common theme. For example a common theme may be illustrated by a sequence of paragraphs each of which exemplifies and illustrates the theme idea.
    The above three principles indicate methods for paragraph development into chapters as well as methods for sentence development into paragraphs.

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.

    Rashi on Ex15-03b explains the verse sequence in two paragraphs/sentences, indicating contrastive relationship.
  • Ex15-03b God is a man of war [but nevertheless]
  • Ex15-03b God [i.e. the God of Mercy] is his [real] name.

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.

      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 Ex12-01a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: Amalayk broke the ice. It was the FIRST nation to declare war on the Jews. Hence God singled them out for destruction.

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.

Verse Verse Text Nation declaring war Footnotes
Ex17-08 Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim. Amalayk First to declare war
Nu20-20 And he said, You shall not go through. And Edom came out against him with much people, and with a strong arm Edom No war was actually fought - just a show of force
Nu21-01 And when king Arad the Canaanite, who lived in the Negev, heard tell that Israel came by the way of Atarim; then he fought against Israel, and took some of them prisoners. Aradian Caananites
Nu21-23 And Sihon would not allow Israel to pass through his border; but Sihon gathered all his people together, and went out against Israel into the wilderness; and he came to Jahaz, and fought against Israel. Emorites This war was provoked by them
Nu25-17:18/b> And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Harass the Midianites, and declare war on them them; For they are your enemies with their wiles,... by Peor.... Midianites This war was the costliest war with 24000 casualties instigating it.

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.

      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 Ex16-31a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: Coriander seeds are flake-shaped. They are beige football shaped objects with ridge-like indentations in their shells.

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.

Since Rashi clarified the shape and color of the coriander seed we classify this Rashi as non-verse.

      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 Ex17-11a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: The Torah and Jewish leaders reinforce moral values through symbolic reminders-hence Moses RAISED HIS HANDS [in prayer] during the war

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.

Verse Event Need Symbolic reminder
Ex17-11a War with Amalayk Prayer Moses raised his hands
Nu21-09a God's cure of snake bites in nation Prayer Placing the the copper snake on high (hinting to heaven)
Dt12-02 Destroying Idolatry Horror of crime Even the idolatrous trees are killed
Lv20-15a Punishment for sleeping with animals Horror of crime Animal is stoned to death also
Ex20-23a Temple service Decorum, atmosphere, modesty Use ramp vs. staircase so as not to excessively expose nakedness

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 for further details and examples.