Their presence in Rashis on Parshat TaZRiAh Volume 14, Number 10
Used in the monthly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
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Apr 15, 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 Lv13-43a discussing the appearance of certain head leprosies states Then the priest shall look upon it; and, behold, if the swelling of the sore is white reddish in his bald head, or in his bald forehead, as the appearance of skin leprosy Rashi clarifies the underlined word as the appearance of skin leprosy by referencing verse Lv13-02 which states When a man shall have in the skin of his flesh a swelling, a scab, or bright spot, and it is on the skin of his flesh like the disease of leprosy; then he shall be brought to Aaron the priest, or to one of his sons the priests; Hence the Rashi comment: The reference to appearance like skin leprosy in Lv13-43a refers to the skin leprosy symptoms mentioned in the chapter on skin leprosy beginning with Lv13-02.
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.
However Radack in his famous masterpiece, Roots, explains that each preposition can frequently have any of the traditional prepositional meanings. Radack actually gives examples where Lamed means from while Mem means to. Readers, interested in pursuing this further, are welcome to visit the Rashiyomi grammar page at http://www.Rashiyomi.com/grammar.htm. By scrolling down to the preposition section and clicking on the appropriate links one can find many examples of prepositions with multiple meanings. For example, the page hosts examples where to (in Biblical Hebrew) can mean with, on, for.
In verses Lv13-48a, Lv13-52a Rashi translates both the prefix Beth and Lamed (occuring in two verses) as meaning of (This is indicated by the underlined words.) (When there is leprosy in a garment...or in the warp, or in the woof, whether they be of linen, or of wool; or in a skin, or in any thing made of skin. ... And he shall burn the garment, or the warp, or the woof, whether it be of wool or of linen, or any thing of skin, wherein the plague is; for it is a malignant leprosy; it shall be burnt in the fire.
Advanced Rashi: Since it is now the time of the counting of the Omer we point out that this comment of the Radack has legal implications. Although there is controversy whether we say "Today is 17 days in Beth the Omer count" vs. "Today is 17 days towards Lamed the Omer count, either formulation is adequate since the meanings of the underlying prepositions can vary.
The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Lv13-47:59 Both verses/verselets discuss the leprous-garment procedures. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: The washing procedure is neither done to the entire garment nor to the leprous spot but rather is done to that where the disease is that is to the leprous spot and its surroundings.
Advanced Rashi: We can expand on the interpretation of this Rashi. The paragraph cited above uses the phrase garment, warp, woof, or skin about half a dozen times. But when it comes to washing this phrase is not used! Rather it refers to washing that where the leprous spot is. It is this aligned contrast which drives the Rashi comment. We could have also approached the interpretation of this Rashi comment using the Rule #8, Databases, which would require a complete citation of all half dozen occurrences.
Advanced Rashi: Here is another way to view this Rashi: Two verses state wash the afflicted spot and wash that which has the afflicted spot. The verse wash the afflicted spot implies only the afflicted spot. The verse wash that which has the afflicted spot implies washing more than the afflicted spot. The two verses together are harmonized by washing the afflicted spot and its immediately surrounding parts but not more.
6. RASHI METHOD: STYLE
Rashi examines how rules of style influences inferences between general and detail statements in paragraphs.
URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1410.htm
Brief Summary: Shave BEARD and EYEBROW hair - that is, hair that is DENSE and VISIBLE.
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 head, beard, eyebrows as illustrative of the general clause, all his hair and states: hair that is dense and visible. We believe this comment evident and consistent with the Rabbi Ishmael style guidelines.
Advanced Rashi: If you look carefully at the verse above you will see that the word all is bolded. The word all always requires generalization. Hence the additional Rashi comment: The actual law requires shaving the arm and armpit hair. In other words all hair is shaven except the nose-hair which is neither visible nor dense.
My contribution to this Rashi is to see the derivation as emanating from two Rashi methods: The theme-detail-theme method and the special word- all method.Alternate derivations of the final law - dense and visible are given by Rambam and Raavad (in the laws of Leprosy) who do not use the exegesis from the word all.
The Formatting principle includes exegetical Rashi comments focusing on paragraph structure. That is, the parts of a paragraph when properly sequenced naturally suggest commentary. This type of commentary, emanating from structure, is different from commentary from word meaning, grammatical function or verse comparison. Todays example nicely illustrates this.
The actual Rashi comment is The case of the disease has not spread simply refers to an alternate outcome at the end of the 2nd week. That is this 3rd inspection either uncovers the disease spreading (in which case the house is destroyed) or else uncovers the disease not spreading (in which case the house is not destroyed). This Rashi comment is obvious from the paragraph structure. We have visually formatted the paragraph to reflect two subcases - disease spread, disease not spread - to the 3rd inspection. However, without the Rashi comment, or without the formatting, the text might appear to be speaking about a 3rd and 4th inspection (that is, each if the priest comes might connote a new inspection.) Rashi however correctly aligns the two contrastive phrases if the priest comes and the plague has spread vs. if the priest comes and the plague has not spread indicating parallel alternatives at the 3rd inspection.
Since the driving force of this Rashi comment comes not from words, grammar, or database comparisons, but rather can best be understood through visual formatting, we have classified this Rashi as belonging to the formatting rule.
We ask the following database query: What phrases are used to indicate the presence of leprosy? 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: The standard introductory phrase describing leprosy presence uses the language template when a person/garment has a leprous plague. However the house plague section is introduced with the unusual When you arrive in the land and I(God) give a house plague. The emphasis in houses on God personally giving the plague is not to emphasize punishment since leprosy on the person or clothes is more serious. Rather, the emphasis in God delivering house plagues is because the required removal of all house contents sets aside time for the revu of house contents, which revu might result in the discovery of hidden treasures, a reasoanble expectation because the prior Canaanite inhabitants probably hid their valuables in the house walls in the hope that they would return and re-acquire them. The list below presents the results of the database query.
Verse Lv15-25 discussing the ritual impurity of houses states And the priest shall command that they empty the house, before the priest goes in to see the plague, that all that is in the house be not made unclean; and afterward the priest shall go in to see the house. Notice how the meaning of the verse and the justifying reason are clear - the house utensils are cleared from the house prior to the priestly inspection since otherwise they would be declared ritually impure and unusable. The question remains why? What non-verse values and goals does the underlying law reflect. Rashi explains: The effect of this law is that household utensils are spared from being declared ritually impure which would render them unusable to the owner. We infer that the Torah values not only life but even the property of Jews; even petty monetary ownership of even sinful Jews.
Because this Rashi introduces values - God's regard for petty monetary ownership - to explain a verse, we have classified it as using a non-verse method.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi continues. ...But if certain utensils were declared impure then an immersion ceremony could purify them making them usable. It follows that the purpose of the law is to protect clay earthenware utensils that have no purification process. I could go further and add:The law also protects the owner against the inconvenience of having to wait a day or two to use his utensils (after a proper ritual immersion). Such Rashis sometimes turn people off as being too technical. The approach of this email list is that Rashi is not exhausting the meaning of the midrash but rather clarifying/illustrating it!!! Rashi never denied that the simple meaning of the text is that the Bible showed care for Jewish property rights. However Rashi clarifies that the application of this idea applies primarily to clay utensils whose purification would require destruction. By viewing the Rashi as illustrative and clarifying vs. as identifying and exhaustive of total meaning we obtain a richer Rashi experience.
Biblical chapter Lv13 discusses the ritual impurity of leprosy. The atonement procedure for this ritual impurity is discussed in Biblical Chapter Lv14.
A full discussion of the rich and beautiful symbolism of leprosy would require applying the objective symbolic methods presented in my article on symbolism. In this weekly digest we simply sketch a few important ideas.
The atonement procedure for the lepor is presented in Lv14 which begins Then shall the priest command to take for him who is to be cleansed two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop
Rashi states: Leprosy is a punishment for chattering like a bird which leads to slander, the core of personality sins. The atonement and remedy for slander is an awareness of the rich spectrum of human personality from the lower hyssop-like classes to the mighty cedar like upper classes. Awareness of the full spectrum of human personality prevents a person from slandering people since he understands each individual's behavior based on where they are.
Advanced Rashi:Rashi does not literally state the symbolic interpretation presented above. Rather Rashi states If a person feels high and mighty like a cedar then let him lower himself till he feels like a hyssop.
However I believe that our interpretation of Rashi is consistent with the above literal interpretation: We argued that Rashi is interpreting the symbolism generally: There is a full spectrum of human personality. Rashi literally gives a specific example of this very general idea: If you think you belong on the upper class, the cedar part of the human spectrum, then see those aspects of you that belong to the lower class, the hyssop part of the human spectrum. However Rashi would be fully comfortable to apply the cedar-hyssop spectrum in other ways also. In other words we see the Rashi text as an example of a more general symbolic interpretation.
Praise be Him who chose them and their learning.