Their presence in Rashis on Parshat BaMiDBaR Volume 14, Number 14
Used in the monthly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
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May 13th, 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 Nu01-53a discussing Levite Temple guard states But the Levites shall pitch round about the tabernacle of the testimony, that there be no anger upon the congregation of the children of Israel; and the Levites shall keep the charge of the tabernacle of the testimony.' Rashi clarifies the underlined words that there be no anger upon the congregation of the children of Israel by referencing verse Nu17-09:11 which states And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Get away from among this congregation, that I may consume them as in a moment. And they fell upon their faces. And Moses said to Aaron, Take a censer, and put fire in it from the altar, and put on incense, and go quickly to the congregation, and make an atonement for them; for anger has come out from the Lord; the plague has begun. Hence the Rashi comment: The statement Nu01-53 that the Levites should watch their Temple Guard and not let non-Levite Israelites come near lest God lose his anger on them references verse Nu17-09:11 stating how God lost his anger on the Jews who rebelled about Temple matters during the Korach rebellion.
Advanced Rashi: The basic reference rule suffices with one verse pointing to another. However, in this particular case, besides the content overlap of the two verses, there is also a word overlap, anger. The identical word anger occurs in both verses hinting and confirming the content overlap of the two verses. Such a word overlap is not necessary in the reference rule but enhances it.
The most famous example of the special word method is the Hebrew word Kaph Yud which can mean because, that, when, perhaps, rather, if. Sometimes Rashi explicitly gives all meanings of a connective word as happens with Kaph Yud while at other times Rashi does not give all meanings at once. In such a case the Rashi student must gather all the meanings together from various places.
One can classify the special word method as either a meaning sub-method or grammar sub-method.
Today's special word, akh, is more fully discussed in the following article on the Rashi website: The meaning of Ach which can be found at url http://www.Rashiyomi.com/ach.pdf. Although this article goes into great depth, which the interested reader is encouraged to pursue, the reader on the go can obtain a complete understanding of ach by reading the concise and compact summary presented below.
Applying this rule to the translation of Usually [Rashi: because the Levites don't participate in national sins] the Levites are not censused during national censii.... As is our practice we have embedded the Rashi translation in the verse.
The word ach can also mean nevertheless a introductory sentence word that alerts the reader to a contrast between the preceding and following sentence. We however have omitted this meaning from the above list.
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.
Applying this rule to verse Nu04-13b we obtain the translation ...and they shall ash the altar.... meaning they shall remove ashes from the altar. Here, the Hebrew coined verb to ash is similar in meaning to the English to dust, that is to remove dust, the verb to dust being derived from the word dust.
The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Nu03-09b,Nu08-19 Both verses/verselets discuss the gift of the Levites to the priests Israel. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: The statement Nu03-09b that the Levites are given as a gift to the priests from the Jewish people means what is stated in verse Nu08-19 that the Levites are given as a gift to the priests from the midst of the Jewish people. In other words the Levites are 1)a gift from God, 2) taken from the midst of the Jewish people.
The above alignment shows many more problems which however were not answered by Rashi. For example why does one verse say given while the other verse says given given. Why is to Aaron and his sons repeated in one verse but not the other? My opinion is that Rashi pointed out the basic idea of the alignment and solved one alignment problem - the difference of from vs. from the midst of. Rashi left it to the teacher and student to try and tackle the other alignment problems that exist in the verse. Even if the teacher can't solve them the proper teaching method is to complete the entire alignment and to show the student all problems.
The table below presents two contradictory sets of verses. Both verse sets talk about the transportation of the Holy of Holies. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says this is the work of the Kehatites while the other verse says the Priests come and package items. Which is it? Is the Holy of Holies the responsibility of the Kehatites or the Priests. Rashi simply resolves this using the 2 stages method: (1) The priests package and wrap the Holy of Holies (2) The Kehatites carry the packages Holy of Holies.
Certain Biblical paragraphs are stated in a Theme-Development form. In other words a broad general idea is stated first followed by the development of this broad general theme in specific details. The Theme-Detail form creates a unified paragraph and consequently the law only applies to the enumerated details but not to other cases. Today's example illustrates this as shown below.
Advanced Rashi: Actually the word minister is a bit more general. Besides singing Psalms during the Temple service the Levites assist in a variety of other ways. For example, the Levites assisted with ritual slaughter of the sacrifices. In this posting we have only touched on the basic idea that the assistance the Levites give the Priests is restricted. We have not fully explored how it is restricted. A more thorough analysis would require reviewing many Biblical texts where the Levite methods of assisting the Priests are listed.
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 of exhaustive of some spectrum.
A perhaps more important question is why? Why are some objects called holy while other objects are called holy utensils? I would suggest that the main goals of Judaism, Torah knowledge and the respect for prophecy symbolized respectively by the Ark and the Altar-fires symbolizing prophetic fire visions, are the main Holy objects. By contrast, the Table and Candellabrah, symbolizing learning and dependence on God for food are means to the end of Torah knowledge and prophecy; hence, they are classified as utensils to the holys. The verse by bulleting separately the Holies and the Utensils of the Holies indicated two stages of Temple utensils.
Today, we ask the following database query: How often are censii taken? 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: God continually counted the Jews with either a complete census or a census of those fallen during a plague. Such obsessive counting typically indicates great attachment and fondness. We conlude God had great love for the Jewish people. The list below presents the results of the database query and shows examples
Background: Originally the firstborn served at the sacrifices. When the Jews sinned by the Golden calf God took this privilege away from them and gave it to the Levites. The process of transfer of responsibility from the firstborn to the Levites was called a redemption process. The redemption process is described in the table below. Because this aspect of the Bible involves computations and spreadsheets we classify this Rashi as non-verse/spreadsheets.
There was the further problem of who to collect the $1,365 from. After all each particular firstborn could claim he corresponded to an actual Levite and didn't have to pay. Therefore the redemption was done by lottery which picked 273 firstborn each of whom paid $5 shekel.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi also mentions the 20 silver price by which Joseph was sold. We will discuss this aspect of Rashi in a later year.