Their presence in Rashis on Parshat TeTZaVeH Volume 14, Number 4
Rashi is Simple - Volume 37 Number 4
Used in the weekly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
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Feb. 26, 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 Ex27-20b discussing the oil used for the Candellabrah states And you shall command the people of Israel, that they bring you pure olive oil beaten for lighting , for the lamp to burn always. Rashi notes that the underlined words, pure olive oil beaten for lighting references verses Ex35-05:08 discussing items dedicated for the Temple. Hence the Rashi comment There were two production methods of olive oil: (1) An ordinary production method and (2) a production method which produced high quality oil useful for lighting. One supportive proof for this distinction is the special emphasis in the voluntary Temple gifts for the oil for the Candellabrah implying that the Candellabrah oil had a special quality.
Advanced Rashi: The Rashi comments on this verse are continued in rules #1,3,4,9. Rule #9 contains the production details of the two oils. In this rule, #1, we have only given a supportive proof. While in rule #4 we give a stronger proof.Note that Rashi does not explicitly mention this other verse; however we think it an appropriate supportive argument.
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 asre abstract we will present concrete easily understood examples below.
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 indication of pronoun indirect objects. The basic rule is that e.g. the difference between take gifts (Ex25-02) vs. take for Me gifts is that the latter style indicates purpose and dedication - the gifts must be dedicated to God. Similarly the difference between send spies vs. send for yourself spies (Nu13-02) indicates a personal aspect and purpose, for your own purposes.
There are many Rashis whose focal point is a pronominal indirect object - as we go through the yearly cycle we will try and gather them all together. Today however we extend this pronominal indirect object rule to general indirect objects of purpose.
Verse Ex27-20b discussing the oil used for the Candellabrah states And you shall command the people of Israel, that they bring you pure olive oil beaten for lighting, for the lamp to burn always. The phrase beaten for lighting contains an indirect object indicating purpose. Rashi comments: You must beat the olives in such a way that the resulting oil can be used for lighting. Here Rashi interprets the indirect object indicating purpose; Rashi requires a capacity for lighting as intrinsic to the oil production process. Further details are given below in rules #4,9.
Another example of the pronominal indirect object rule indicating purpose and dedication, occurs in Ex29-25d which states And thou shalt take them from their hands, and make them smoke on the altar upon the burnt-offering, for a sweet savour before HaShem; it is an offering made by fire for God. Rashi commenting on the phrase for God states:The offering must be dedicated to God's name.
Advanced Rashi: This Rashi comment is continued in rules #1,3,4,9.
The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Ex27-20b, Ex29-40. Both verses/verselets discuss oil production. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: 1) The oil production method for the Candellabrah was a special quality oil, pure, without dregs, specially suited for lighting; 2) The oil production method for the offerings did not have to be of such a high quality and could come from beaten oil. We infer this from the contrast of phrases beaten oil vs. oil, beaten for light.
Advanced Rashi: This Rashi is continued in Rules #1,3,4,9. Rule #9 gives details on the production methods - certain methods produce special lighting oil while other production methods do not produce such oil.
The table below presents two contradictory verses/verselets. Both verses/verselets speak about the Tzitz, the metal plate with holy to God on it. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse/verselet says It shall be on his forehead while the other verse/verselet says It shall always be on his forehead. We see the contradiction: Which is it? Was the Tzitz always worn or was it just worn when serving in the Temple (This is also a contradiction between the verse and logic since physically the priest could not wear this continually, as e.g. he sometimes had to go to the bathroom.) Rashi simply resolves this using the broad-literal method: a) It shall physically be on his foreheadduring the Temple service and atone on ritual impurity which contanimated the sacrifices; b) It shall mentally be on his mind at all times. By having God's holiness on his mind he effects atonement for offerings offered in ritual impurity.
Advanced Rashi: We approach this Rashi in rule #6 below from the point of view of the style rule. We note here that Rashi cites a controversy in Yuma 7a on whether the physical presence of the Tzizt on his forehead is necessary to achieve atonement. However a careful reading of the Talmud shows that having the Tzitz on his mind is a requirement according to both sides of the controversy. This makes sense: Ritual impurity attacks holiness; by continually thinking of the phrase, Holy to God, written on the Tzitz, the Priest counteracts the effects of the ritual impurity and achieves atonement.
Note how we resolved the contradiction: We used the principle that a repeated word can acquire a non-standard meaning. So the first statement it will be on his forehead is literal while the second statement it will be on his forehead continually is metaphoric - it will be on his mind at all times. Since we used a metaphoric interpretation to resolve the contradiction we classify this as a broad-literal method.
Certain Biblical paragraphs are stated in a Theme-Development-Theme form. In other words a broad general idea is stated first followed by the development of this broad general theme in specific details. The paragraph-like unit is then closed with a repetition of the broad theme. The Theme-Detail-Theme form creates a unified paragraph. The detailed section of this paragraph is therefore seen as an extension of the general theme sentences. Today's example illustrates this as shown immediately below.
Rashi generalizes the detail clause atone for the iniquity of offerings, as illustrative of the general clause, have holy to God on one's mind continually, and states: The iniquity of the offerings atones by having holy to God on ones mind continuously. But what can holy thoughts atone for? It can only atone for sins which cause impure thoughts - that is, for offering offerings in a state of ritual impurity. Normally the ritual impurity would cause impure thoughts. However, the holy to God thought atones by bringing in holy thoughts and counteracting the tendency to have impure thoughts..Advanced Rashi: We approached this Rashi in rule #5 above from the point of view of the contradiction rule; this justifies translating the phrase and the Tzitz will be on his mind. We note here that Rashi cites a controversy in Yuma 7a on whether the physical presence of the Tzizt on his forehead is necessary to achieve atonement. However a careful reading of the Talmud shows that having the Tzitz on his mind is a requirement of both sides of the controversy. This makes sense: Ritual impurity attacks holiness; by continually thinking of the phrase, Holy to God, written on the Tzitz, the Priest counteracts the effects of the ritual impurity and achieves atonement.
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: Which commandments mention that they should be observed becauase 'you are to remember that God took you out of Egypt'? 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: Commemoration of the salvation from Egypt is emphasized as a reason for commandment observance in laws prohibiting a) social inequality b) ritual impurity c) anxiety-business practices as well as in laws requiring d) acknowledgement of salvation from Egypt by God. The list below presents the results of the database query and shows examples
To understand this list we take a simple example: Dt05-14a:15. discussing the obligation to treat slaves and orphans nicely. This verse states but the seventh day is a sabbath unto HaShem thy G-d, in it thou shalt not do any manner of work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy man-servant and thy maid-servant may rest as well as thou. And thou shalt remember that thou was a slave in the land of Egypt, and HaShem thy G-d brought thee out thence by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore HaShem thy G-d commanded thee to keep the sabbath day. As can be seen by the underlined words, the Biblical obligation to let slaves/servants rest on the Sabbath is linked to remembering the Exodus. This linkage between the commandment and the exodus, does not occur at all commandments. However this linkage occurs here because the essence of Egypt consisted of a class society in which certain people were free and certain people were slaves. Consequently, any commandment attacking class distinctions - such as the requirement to equally let owners and slaves rest on the Sabbath - will explicitly mention the Exodus. The other examples are interpreted similarly.
Rashi cites the Talmud, Menacoth 86a which gives the production methods that produce pure oil and the production methods that produce beaten but not pure oil. Since Rashi brings in external real-world knowledge to explain the Biblical text we classify this Rashi as a non-verse method. The citation (from the Davka CD translation), which speaks for itself, is given below.
Verse Ex29-24b discusses the waiving-raising ceremony of the peace offering. This ceremony requires waiving-raising the breast and thigh of the offering; the waiving is done in four directions - east, north, west and south. The raising is done in two directions - up and down. Rashi following the Talmud, Menacoth 62a explains the symbolism (Davka translation provided below).
AND WAVES THEM FORWARD AND BACKWARD AND UPWARD AND DOWNWARD. R. Hiyya b. Abba said in the name of R. Johanan, FORWARD AND BACKWARD, that is to Him unto Whom the [four] directions belong; UPWARD AND DOWNWARD, that is to Him unto Whom heaven and earth belong. In the West it was taught as follows: R. Hama b. ‘Ukba said in the name of R. Jose b. R. Hanina, FORWARD AND BACKWARD, in order to keep off depression; UPWARD AND DOWNWARD, in order to keep off foul language.
We can explain this symbolism as follows: The breast covers the heart, the seat of emotions; the thigh is the organ of motion, the activity of persual. The waiving in four directions symbolically affirms the acceptance of people from the entire world. By accepting all people one wards off depression which typically comes from a confrontation with a not-understood personality. The raising up and down symbolically affirms the presence of heaven and hell; the awareness of heaven and hell prevents foul language. Together the waiving and raising procedure facilitate persual of ones desires without depression and with an atmosphere of dignity. It is interesting that the Bible finds a remedy to depression and foul language in the awareness of the multiplicity of world personalities and the awareness of the reality of heaven and hell.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi literally says that the waiving prevents violent winds while the raising prevents bad dews. However I have, consistent with the whole Rashi passage, interpreted this symbolically: The Hebrew word for depression is bad wind; a Hebrew word for words is drops. Hence I believe the above symbolic interpretation justified. Notice how I also connect the symbol and symbolized - because a person is aware of the multiplicity of world personalities therefore (s)he does not undergo depresion.
This week's issue contains examples of all Rashi method. Visit the RashiYomi website at http://www.Rashiyomi.com for further details and examples.