The 10 RashiYomi Rules
Their presence in Rashis on Parshat Shemini
Volume 14, Number 9
Rashi is Simple - Volume 36 Number 9

Used in the weekly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
Visit the RashiYomi website: http://www.Rashiyomi.com/
(c) RashiYomi Incorporated, Dr. Hendel, President,
Apr 8 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.

    1. RASHI METHOD: REFERENCES
    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 Lv09-01a
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1409.htm
    Brief Summary: The eighth day of the Priestly Consecration was also the day that the Temple was erected and God revealed himself to the Jewish people.

Verse Lv09-01a discussing the eighth day of the Priestly consecration offering states And it came to pass on the eighth day, that Moses called Aaron and his sons, and the elders of Israel; ...take ...for offerings for to-day HaShem appeareth unto you.' Rashi notes that the underlined words, for to-day HaShem appeareth unto you.' references verses Ex40-34:35 discussing the revelation of God when the Temple was erected. Hence the Rashi comment The eighth day of the Priestly consecration ceremony was also the day the Temple was erected (Ex40). The merit of building the Temple and consecrating the Priests facilitated the receipt of a prophetic vision by the nation.

Text of Target Verse Lv09-01a Text of Reference Verse Ex40-34:35
And it came to pass on the eighth day, that Moses called Aaron and his sons, and the elders of Israel; ...take ...for offerings for to-day HaShem appeareth unto you.' Then a cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the Tent of Meeting, because the cloud abode on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.
Rashi comments: The eighth day of the Priestly consecration ceremony was also the day the Temple was erected (Ex40). The merit of building the Temple and consecrating the Priests facilitated the receipt of a prophetic vision by the nation.

    Advanced Rashi: Further comments can be made on this Rashi.
  • The opening phrase On the eighth day.... references verses Lv07-33:36 discussing the seven days of the consecration of the Priests. This corresponds to the Rashi comment The eighth day refers to the day after the seven days of Priestly consecration.
  • Verses Ex40-01:16 simultaneously discuss the erection of the Temple as well as the consecration of the Priests. This gives credence to Rashi's assumption that both happened simultaneously.
  • It is also a matter of logic that the Priests and Temple were consecrated together since the job of the Priests is to function in the Temple.
  • We add to this, as mentioned above that the culmination of both the Temple erection as well as the Priest consecration ceremony was the achievement of prophetic vision by the Jewish people. It is specially noteworthy that the Temple was built for the purpose of facilitating prophetic vision. This point is often overlooked and will be emphasized in todays issue of Rashi is Simple.

      2. RASHI METHOD: WORD MEANING
      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 Lv10-16d
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1409.htm
      Brief Summary: DBR=cite,say. AMR=discuss.

When Rashi uses the synonym method he does not explain the meaning of a word but rather the distinction between two similar words both of whose meanings we already know.

    The following Hebrew words all refer to communication.
  • Daleth-Beth-Resh, DBR, cite, say;
  • Aleph-Mem-Resh, AMR, discuss.

In our article Peshat and Derash: A New Intuitive and Logical Approach, which can be found on the world-wide-web at http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rashi.pdf we have advocated punchy translations of Biblical verses as a means of presenting Rashi comments. The following translation of verse Lv10-16d embeds the Rashi translation AMR means discuss. And Moses diligently inquired for the goat of the sin-offering, and, behold, it was burnt; and he was angry with Eleazar and with Ithamar, the sons of Aaron that were left, for purposes of discussion.: Hence the Rashi on this verse: The Biblical phrase He was angry...for purposes of discussion means that when he reprimanded them it was simultaneously a potential reprimand but also a request for clarification and discussion on the matter.

Advanced Rashi: Using our proposed translations the enigmatic Talmudic adage AMR has a soft tone while DBR has a harsher tone would be pithily translated as Discussion has a soft tone [since it allows response] while cite / say have a harsher tone [since the communication is more one sided without allowing a response]. This interpretation illustrates the maxim in my article Peshat and Derash alluded to above that a punchy crisp translation is a powerful vehicle to naturally explain many midrashim.

      3. RASHI METHOD: GRAMMAR
      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 Lv09-12a
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1409.htm
      Brief Summary: The Hebrew root Mem-Tzade-Aleph means FIND, PRESENT, TO PRESENT

Most people are aware that Hebrew verbs come from three-letter roots. Each root is conjugated in the 8 dimensions of person, gender,plurality, tense, activity, modality, direct-object, and prepositional connective. For example the root Shin Mem Resh means to watch. The conjugations Shin-Mem-Resh-Tauv-Yud and Nun-Shin-Mem-Resh-Nun-Vav mean I watched and we were watched respectively.

The rules for Hebrew grammar are carefully described in many modern books and are well known. Rashi will sometimes comment when a verse is using a rare conjugation of an odd grammatical form.

When presenting grammatical Rashis my favorite reference is the appendix in volume 5 of the Ibn Shoshan dictionary. This very short appendix lists most conjugations.

    The Hebrew root Mem-Tzade-Aleph,MaTzaH can mean
  • to find in the active mode as in
    • Gn11-02, they found a valley in Shinar
  • to be present in the passive mode as in
    • 1S13-09, a plow was not present in Israel
    • Gn19-15, take your two daughters that are present
  • to present in the causative mode as in
    • Lv09-12 they presented to him the blood
    • 2S05-02 you presented and brought the Jewish people in battles

Applying the above rule to the translation of Lv09-12 we obtain And he [Aaron] slew the burnt-offering; and Aaron's sons presented to him the blood, and he dashed it against the altar round about. Such a translation is consistent with the method advocated in my article Peshat and Derash, to explain Rashi by providing a nifty crisp translation.

    4. RASHI METHOD: ALIGNMENT
    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 Lv11-40a
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1409.htm
    Brief Summary: (1)TOUCHERS (of the dead carcass) are ritually impure till evening; (2)CARRIERS MUST WASH CLOTHES and are ritually impure till evening.

    The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Lv11-39:40 Both verses/verselets discuss the consequences of contact with carcasses of kosher animals. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that:
    • 1) A person who touches the dead carcass is
      • 1b) simply impure till evening
    • 2) A person who carries the dead carcass
      • 2a) must wash his clothes and
      • 2b) is also impure till evening.
    Summary: Carrying renders person and clothes ritually impure while touching only renders the person impure.

Verse Text of Verse Rashi comment
Lv11-39 When an animal that is permissable to eat dies, then those who touch it are (1b) ritually impure till evening.
  • 1) A person who touches the dead carcass is
    • 1b) simply impure till evening
  • 2) A person who carries the dead carcass
    • 2a) must wash his clothes and
    • 2b) is also impure till evening.
Summary: Carrying renders person and clothes ritually impure while touching only renders the person impure.
Lv11-40 ... those who carry it (1a) must wash their clothes and (1b) are ritually impure till evening.

      5. RASHI METHOD: CONTRADICTION
      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 example applies to Rashis Lv10-05a
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/lv10-05a.htm
      Brief Summary: Nadav,Avihu died by a prophetic fire which burned souls but not clothing.

The table below presents presents two contradictory sets of verses. Both verse sets talk about the death of Aaron's two sons who offered an improper sacrifice. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse set says a fire devoured them while the other verse says They were carried away in their clothing. Which is it? Were they consumed by fire - if so their clothing should have been burned. Or did they die some other way which would explain why their clothing was not burned. Rashi simply resolves this using the 2 aspects method: The two sons of Aaron died by a prophetic fire vision. The fire vision overwhelmed them with guilt and this caused their death. Consequently their clothing was not consumed.

Summary Verse / Source Text of verse / Source
They were consumed by prophetic fire Lv10-02 And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord
The prophetic fire did not devour their clothing and hence they were removed from the sanctuary in their clothing. Lv10-05 So they [their brothers] went near, and carried them in their coats out of the camp; as Moses had said
Resolution: 2 Aspects: They died by a prophetic fire vision. The fire vision overwhelmed them with guilt and they died. However the prophetic fire did not burn their clothing.Hence although they were devoured by fire they could be carried out in their clothing.

    6. RASHI METHOD: STYLE
    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 Lv09-23b
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1409.htm
    Brief Summary: GENERAL: Aaron BLESSED the nation PARTICULAR: ...doing of the sin and elevation offering GENERAL: ...They BLESSED the NATION. NEW PARAGRAPH: God appeared in a vision of fire animals

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.

    Verse Lv09-22:24 discussing the blessings and prophecies on the day of consecrating the Temple states
    • General: Aaron lifted his hands towards the nation and blessed them
    • Detail: And he descended from doing
      • the sin offering
      • the elevation offering
      • and the peace offering
    • General: And Moses and Aaron came to the (Prophetic) Meeting Tent, and they went out and blessed the nation
    This paragraph - blessing - offering - blessing - is followed by a another paragraph
    • The Honor of God prophetically appeared to the nation
    • (The prophetic vision appeared as ) An issuing fire from God consuming the elevation animal and its fat

Rashi generalizes the detail clause - sin, elevation, peace offering - as illustrative of the general clause, - blessing, - and as connected causally to the following paragraph dealing with prophetic visions. Rashi states: The blessing was that the offerings should facilitate a prophetic vision. We believe this comment evident and consistent with the Rabbi Ishmael style guidelines.

    Summary: So Rashi in effect reads the verses as follows:
  • Aaron blessed the nation that their sin, elevation and peace offerings should be blessed [and facilitate prophetic inspiration] and immediately
  • An actual prophetic vision occurred; the prophetic vision appeared as a consuming fire on the altar enveloping the elevation animals in fire.

Advanced Rashi: Recall that the Patriarch Jacob blessed his children with animal symbols. Combining the above Rashi with the Patriarch Jacob's blessing we see that the Jews present at the consecration of the Desert-Temple achieved the Patriarchal blessing of a prophetic fire-animal vision. This is a very high and lofty blessing. This is also the opinion of the Talmudic sages who state that Even the bondmaids received prophetic visions similar to those of Ezekiel, that is the Jews of the Desert-Temple received prophetic fire animal visions like those of Ezekiel.

      7. RASHI METHOD: FORMATTING
      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 Lv10-18b
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1409.htm
      Brief Summary: You should have EATEN EATEN it [Rashi: Eaten it in ANY circumstance even between death and burial.]

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 indicates bold, italics, underline by using repetition. In other words if a modern author wanted to emphasize a word they would either underline, bold or italicize it. However when the Biblical author wishes to emphasize a word He repeats it. The effect - whether thru repetition or using underline - is the same. It is only the means of conveying this emphasis that is different.

With this principle in mind let us review verse Lv10-18b which states Behold, the blood of it was not brought into the sanctuary within; ye should certainly have eaten eaten it in the sanctuary, as I commanded. Rashi comments on the repeated underlined words: The repeated underlined words create emphasis: It should always be eaten in all circumstances, for example, even between death and burial (a time when many positive commandments are suspended).

      8. RASHI METHOD: DATABASES
      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 Lv11-35b
      URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule0601.htm
      Brief Summary: Impure clay utensils have no remedy; they must be broken

We ask the following database query: What remedies does the Torah list for ritual impurity. 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: Most ritual impurities have remedies. However an earthen-clay vessel that becomes impure has no remedy and must be destroyed. The list below presents the results of the database query.

Verse Item Remedy Verse text
Lv11-25 Carrying Dead rodents Immersion and sunset And whoever carries anything of the carcass of them shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the evening.
Lv15-16 Nocturnal emission Immersion and sunset And if any manís semen goes out from him, then he shall wash all his flesh in water, and be unclean until the evening.
Lv15-01:05 Touching bed of a discharger Immersion and sunset Speak to the people of Israel, and say to them, When any man has a discharge out of his flesh, .... Every bed, on which he, who has the discharge, lies, is unclean; .... And whoever touches his bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening.
Lv11-33 Dead animal in air space of clay vessel No Remedy (destruction) And every earthen utensil, in which any of them [dead rodents] falls, whatever is in it shall be unclean; and you shall break it.

    10. RASHI METHOD: SYMBOLISM
    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 Lv09-04a
    URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1409.htm
    Brief Summary: Sacrifices with their FIRE RICH symbolism were offered in the hope of arousing and meriting PROPHETIC FIRE VISIONS.

    Verses Lv09-01:04 discussing the sacrifices brought on the day of the consecration of the Temple states
    • And it came to pass on the eighth day, that Moses called Aaron and his sons, and the elders of Israel; And he said to Aaron, Take
      • a young calf ...
      • and a ram ... and offer them before the Lord. And to the people of Israel you shall speak, saying,
      • Take a kid ...
      • and a calf and
      • a lamb, ...
      • Also a bull and
      • a ram ... to sacrifice before the Lord;
      • and a meal offering mixed with oil;
    • for today the Lord will appear to you.
    Rashi commenting on this structure states All these animals were brought as fire sacrifices for the purpose of facilitating prophetic fire visions. In other words the purpose of sacrifices being brought is so that their fire-rich symbolism will facilitate prophetic fire visions.

Here is another way of looking at this. Prophecy was a frequent theme in the Bible. We frequently find that people who yearned for prophetic communication would first offer sacrifices. For example when the wicked Bilam was asked to prophesy on Israel he prepared himself for the prophetic fire visions by offering sacrifices on the fire (Nu23-01:04). What Rashi is explaining to us is why people brought sacrifices - people brought sacrifices in the hope of achieving prophetic inspiration. The main reason we want the restoration of sacrifices in the Messianic era is to renew prophecy.

This idea is further elaborated in my article http://www.Rashiyomi.com/gen-1.htm. Popular knowledge on sacrifices shows that people corrupted the idea of sacrifices; they brought sacrifices but committed crimes like adultery and murder. My opinion is that prophesy was still alive during this period but that the prophetic visions dealt with the national sins and urged people to be ethical. That is I contend that the ethical prophets arose not because civilization advanced but rather because people ethically sinned and therefore the prophecies of their time addressed ethical questions.

By studying the sacrifices we learn everything we need to know about personality, spiritual growth, and personal development. Those who excel advance to become prophets while those who don't reach the prophetic level at least reach the level of spiritual growth.

Conclusion

This week's parshah contains no examples of the spreadsheet Rashi method. Visit the RashiYomi website at http://www.Rashiyomi.com and http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule.htm for further details and examples.