The 10 RashiYomi Rules
Their presence in Rashis on Parshat ChuKaTh
Volume 14, Number 19
Used in the monthly Rashi-is-Simple and the Daily Rashi.
Visit the RashiYomi website:
This Weekly Rashi with Hebrew/English textual source tables for the Bible/Rashi
may be accessed at
(c) RashiYomi Incorporated, Dr. Hendel, President, Jun 17, 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. Although I frequently use my own English translations of biblical verses and Rashi comments, the Hebrew and English translations in the source tables are derived from online parshah files at who in turn acknowledges the Judaica Press Complete Tanach, copyright by Judaica Press.


    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 Nu20-22a
    URL Reference: (c);
    Brief Summary: Nu20-22a The ENIRE nation came to Mount Hor..., REFERENCES Nu14-32:33 discussing the 40 year period during which the generation of the spies died out (But now the ENTIRE nation was ready to enter Israel)

Verse Nu20-22a
Hebrew Verse וַיִּסְעוּ מִקָּדֵשׁ וַיָּבֹאוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל כָּל הָעֵדָה הֹר הָהָר:
English Verse They traveled from Kadesh, and the entire congregation of the children of Israel arrived at Mount Hor.
Rashi Header Hebrew כל העדה
Rashi Text Hebrew כולם שלמים ועומדים להכנס לארץ שלא היה בהן אחד מאותם שנגזרה גזירה עליהם שכבר כלו מתי מדבר, ואלו מאותן שכתוב בהן (דברים ד, ד) חיים כולכם היום:
Rashi Header Enlish the entire congregation
Rashi Text English All were perfect, ready to enter the Land. There was not among them even one of those upon whom the decree had been pronounced, for all those destined to die in the desert had already perished, and these were of those about whom it is written, “you… are all alive this day” (Deut. 4:4). - [Midrash Tanchuma Chukath 14, Num. Rabbah 19:16]

Verse Nu20-22a discussing the arrival of the entire nation at Mount Hor states They traveled from Kadesh, and the entire congregation of the children of Israel arrived at Mount Hor. Rashi clarifies the underlined words entire by referencing verse(s) Nu14-32:33 which states But as for you [the generation of the spies], your corpses shall fall in this desert. Your children shall wander in the desert for forty years and bear your defection until the last of your corpses has fallen in the desert. Hence the Rashi comment: Aaron died in the 40th year (Nu33-38) after the generation of the spies had died out. Hence the entire congregation came to Mount Hor and was ready to enter Israel, none of them needing to die for their sins.

Text of Target verse Nu20-22a Text of Reference Verse Nu14-32:33
They traveled from Kadesh, and the entire congregation of the children of Israel arrived at Mount Hor. But as for you [the generation of the spies], your corpses shall fall in this desert. Your children shall wander in the desert for forty years and bear your defection until the last of your corpses has fallen in the desert.
Rashi comments: Aaron died in the 40th year (Nu33-38) after the generation of the spies had died out. Hence the entire congregation came to Mount Hor and was ready to enter Israel, none of them needing to die for their sins.

      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 Nu20-25a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: GOD SAID TO MOSES, PERSUADE AARON. Rashi: Don't emphasize that he will die but e.g. emphasize that he will see the transfer of his Priesthood to his son while he is alive.

Verse Nu20-25a
Hebrew Verse קַח אֶת אַהֲרֹן וְאֶת אֶלְעָזָר בְּנוֹ וְהַעַל אֹתָם הֹר הָהָר:
English Verse Take Aaron and Eleazar his son and ascend Mount Hor.
Rashi Header Hebrew קח את אהרן
Rashi Text Hebrew בדברי נחומים. אמור לו אשריך שתראה כתרך נתון לבנך מה שאין אני זכאי לכך:
Rashi Header Enlish Take Aaron
Rashi Text English with words of solace; say to him, “You are fortunate that you can see your crown given over to your son, something I do not merit.” - [Midrash Tanchuma Chukath 17, Num. Rabbah 19:19]

When Rashi uses, what we may losely call, the hononym method, Rashi does not explain new meaning but rather shows an underlying unity in disparate meanings. Rashi will frequently do this by showing an underlying unity in the varied meanings of a Biblical root.

In my article Peshat and Derash found on the world wide web at I advocate enriching the Rashi explanation using a technique of parallel nifty translations in modern English. Today's examples show this.

    The Heberw Biblical root Lamed-Kuph-Cheth has a fundamental meaning of taking. Hence this Biblical root can mean
  • to take [ a physical object ]
  • to marry [ In English we also speak about taking a woman! ]
  • to buy real estate [ even though you don't physically take the land we still use the Hebrew verb meaning to tak to indicate acquisition ]
  • to persuade [ to take with one's words rather than with one's hands. ]

Applying the above translation to Nu20-25a discussing the taking of Aaron for his death, we obtain Persuade Aaron and Eleazar his son and ascend Mount Hor. (1) Strip Aaron of his garments and dress Eleazar his son with them. (2) Then Aaron shall be gathered in [to his people] and die there. Hence the exquisite Rashi: The verse mentions two purposes to the ascent to Mount Hor: 1) The investiture of Eleazar as High Priest and 2) the death of Aaron. So Moses was not to persuade Aaron to die but rather he was to persuade Aaron to ascend Mount Hor to fulfills every father's dream: To see his son invested in his place during his lifetime!

      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 Nu21-29d
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: Brief Summary: Woe to you Moab; the nation of the Kemosh [gods] is destroyed: (1) you have given your sons to fleeing [from] (2) you have given your daughters in captivity to the Emorite Kingdom in Sichon.

Verse Nu21-29d
Hebrew Verse אוֹי לְךָ מוֹאָב אָבַדְתָּ עַם כְּמוֹשׁ נָתַן בָּנָיו פְּלֵיטִם וּבְנֹתָיו בַּשְּׁבִית לְמֶלֶךְ אֱמֹרִי סִיחוֹן:
English Verse Woe is to you, Moab; you are lost, people of Chemosh. His sons he has given over as refugees and his daughters into captivity, to Sihon, king of the Amorites.
Rashi Header Hebrew פליטם
Rashi Text Hebrew נסים ופליטים מחרב ואת בנותיו בשבית וגו':
Rashi Header Enlish refugees
Rashi Text English who flee and escape the sword, and his daughters into captivity, etc.

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 cover the beautiful rule of one letter, prefix, prepositional connectives. Hebrew has several one-letter prefix prepositional connectives such as Beth which means in, Lamed which means to, Mem which means from etc. The Radack following other Hebrew grammarians explains the novelty that each of the one letter prefixes can assume the meaning of any other of the prefixes. Indeed, Lamed can mean to but can also mean from. Using this principle we can explain the poetic verse Nu21-29d:
    • Woe to you Moab, you are lost, nation of [god] Kemosh:
      • You must give your sons to fleers [from] and
      • --- ---- ---- ---- daughters in captivity to
    • the Emorite Kingdom [in] Sichon.

I believe Rashi's main point is that the one-letter lamed prefix simultaneously means from and to. That is the verse puns the Lamed to indicate the double tragedy that the males are fleeing from while the femals are (helplessly) given in capitity to the Emorite Kingdom. In fact there is a further pun here. The one-letter prefix lamed can also mean for the sake of. So the verse is cynically saying: The men are fleeing for the sake of the Emorites who want the women for themselves!

    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 Nu20-18a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: JEWS are saved by PRAYER; EDOM is saved by SWORD

Verse Nu20-18a
Hebrew Verse וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו אֱדוֹם לֹא תַעֲבֹר בִּי פֶּן בַּחֶרֶב אֵצֵא לִקְרָאתֶךָ:
English Verse Edom replied to him, You shall not pass through me, lest I go out towards you with the sword!
Rashi Header Hebrew פן בחרב אצא לקראתך
Rashi Text Hebrew אתם מתגאים בקול שהורישכם אביכם, אמרתם (דברים כו, ז) ונצעק אל ה' וישמע קולנו, ואני אצא עליכם במה שהורישני אבי (בראשית כז, מ) ועל חרבך תחיה:
Rashi Header Enlish lest I go out towards you with the sword
Rashi Text English You pride yourselves with the ‘voice’ your father bequeathed you, and declare, “We cried out to the Lord, and He heard our voice” (verse 16). But we will go out against you with what my father bequeathed me: “You shall live by the sword” (Gen. 27:40) - [Midrash Tanchuma Beshallach 9]

The table below presents an aligned extract of verses or verselets in Nu20-16, Nu20-18. Both verses/verselets discuss the strengths of certain nations. The alignment justifies the Rashi comment that: Jews have their strength in Prayer; Edomites have their strength in weaponry.

Summary Verse Text of verse
Jews have their strength in Prayer. Nu20-16 read across and when we [Jews] cried unto HaShem, He heard our voice, and sent an angel, and brought us forth out of Egypt; and, behold, we are in Kadesh, a city in the uttermost of thy border.
Edomites have their strength in weaponry. Nu20-18 read across And Edom said unto him: 'Thou shalt not pass through me, lest I come out with the sword against thee.'

      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 Nu19-04a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: Brief Summary: The priest stands a) OUTSIDE the Temple camp but b) FACING the Temple gate.

Verse Nu19-04a
Hebrew Verse וְלָקַח אֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן מִדָּמָהּ בְּאֶצְבָּעוֹ וְהִזָּה אֶל נֹכַח פְּנֵי אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד מִדָּמָהּ שֶׁבַע פְּעָמִים:
English Verse Eleazar the kohen shall take from its blood with his finger and sprinkle it toward the front of the Tent of Meeting seven times.
Rashi Header Hebrew אל נוכח פני אהל מועד
Rashi Text Hebrew עומד במזרחו של ירושלים ומתכוין ורואה פתחו של היכל בשעת הזאה הדם:
Rashi Header Enlish toward the front of the Tent of Meeting
Rashi Text English [In later generations, when this rite will be performed outside the Temple in Jerusalem,] he is to stand to the east of Jerusalem and to direct his gaze toward the entrance to the Temple while sprinkling the blood. — [Sifrei Chukath 14]

The table below presents two contradictory verses. Both verses talk about the positioning of the priest during the Red-Heiffer ceremony. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse says he shall be outside the temple camp while the other verse says he shall face the Temple gate. Which is it? Does the priest perform the red-heiffer ceremony by the Temple gate or outside the camp? Rashi simply resolves this using the 2 Aspects Method method: The Priest is bodily outside the Temple camp and from that outside position faces the Temple gate.

Summary Verse / Source Text of verse / Source
The Priest is outside the Temple camp. Nu19-03 And you shall give it to Eleazar the priest, that he may bring it forth outside the camp, and one shall slay it before his face
The priest shall face the Temple gate. Nu19-04 And Eleazar the priest shall take of its blood with his finger, and sprinkle of its blood directly facing the Tent of Meeting seven timesolds; for it is your reward for your service in the Tent of Meeting.
Resolution: 2 Aspects The Priest is bodily outside the Temple camp and from that outside position faces the Temple

Advanced Rashi: The reader may object to referring to the above two verses as a contradiction. We have pointed out many times that many examples of the contradiction rule would be better named as the method of complementary verses. We use the name contradiction since that is the name given by the Rabbi Ishmael rules. Furthermore, the reader should bear in mind that before the reader is aware of the resolution the verses typically do appear contradictory.

    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 Nu21-07a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: Moses upon being insulted prayed for the welfare of the Jews that insulted him. This offers general guidance to people who are insulted.

Verse Nu21-07a
Hebrew Verse וַיָּבֹא הָעָם אֶל מֹשֶׁה וַיֹּאמְרוּ חָטָאנוּ כִּי דִבַּרְנוּ בַי־הֹוָ־ה וָבָךְ הִתְפַּלֵּל אֶל יְ־הֹוָ־ה וְיָסֵר מֵעָלֵינוּ אֶת הַנָּחָשׁ וַיִּתְפַּלֵּל מֹשֶׁה בְּעַד הָעָם:
English Verse The people came to Moses and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord that He remove the snakes from us. So Moses prayed on behalf of the people.
Rashi Header Hebrew ויתפלל משה
Rashi Text Hebrew מכאן למי שמבקשים ממנו מחילה שלא יהא אכזרי מלמחול:
Rashi Header Enlish So Moses prayed
Rashi Text English From here [we learn] that someone who is asked to forgive, should not be so cruel so as not to forgive. — [Midrash Tanchuma Chukkath 19, Num. Rabbah 19:23]

Certain Biblical paragraphs are stated in an example form. In other words an example of a law is stated rather than the full general rule. The reader's task is to generalize the example. The idea that all Biblical laws should be perceived as examples (unless otherwise indicated) is explicitly stated by Rashi (Pesachim 6.). This is a rule of style since the rule requires that a text be perceived as an example rather than interpreted literally. The Rabbi Ishmael style rules govern the interpretation of style.

Verse Nu21-05:07a discussing Moses reaction to the Jewish people after they had insulted him, and apologized, states And the people spoke against God, and against Moses, Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, nor is there any water; and our soul loathes this light bread. And the Lord sent venomous serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against you; pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people Rashi commenting on the underlined phrases states: We see that Moses prayed for the Jewish people after they had insulted him and asked his forgiveness. This generalizes as follows: It is proper ethical behavior to pray for someone who has insulted you and apologized.

Advanced Rashi: Rashi simply says From here we learn that if someone who has insulted you apologizes you should not be cruel in forgiveness. But a proper generalization of the cited Biblical passage says more, as indicated above: If a person who insulted you asks forgiveness, besides not being cruel, you should also pray for his welfare. Although the further underlined generalization is not in the Rashi text we are justified in inserting it since it is consistent with the Biblical text and the underlying Rashi method of generalization.

Such adding of detail - based on the actual Biblical text and the underlying Rashi rule - shows the proper approach to understanding Rashi.

      BRIEF EXPLANATION:Inferences from Biblical formatting: #NAME?
      • 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 Nu21-30b
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: We have shot at them--Heshbon unto Dibon is destroyed, and we have laid waste and TOTALLY ERASED [Stikeout] even unto Nophah, which reaches to Maydvah

Verse Nu21-30b
Hebrew Verse "ַנִּירָם אָבַד חֶשְׁבּוֹן עַד דִּיבוֹן וַנַּשִּׁים עַד נֹפַח אֲשֶׁר עַד מֵידְבָא:
English Verse Their kingdom is destroyed from Heshbon; it has been removed from Dibon; we laid them waste as far as Nophah which is near Medeba.
Rashi Header Hebrew אבד חשבון עד דיבון
Rashi Text Hebrew מלכות ועול שהיה למואב בחשבון אבד משם, וכן עד דיבון. תרגום של סר עד, כלומר סר ניר מדיבון. ניר לשון מלכות ועול וממשלת איש, כמו (מלכים א' יא, לו) למען היות ניר לדוד עבדי:
Rashi Header Enlish we laid them waste
Rashi Text English Heb. וַנַּשִּׁים. The [letter] Heb. שׁ is punctuated with a dagesh [thus indicating a missing“mem,”], denoting ‘waste’ Heb. (שְׁמָמָה). Thus say those who tell parables, Heb. עַדנֹפַח וַנַּשִּׁים אוֹתָם, “we laid them waste as far as Nophah.”

When a modern author wishes to deemphasize a concept they will strike it out. When the Biblical author wishes to deemphasize a concept He places dots over it. The dots in the Biblical version, or the strikeout in the modern version, indicate deemphasis.

    There are 8 examples of dotting or strikeout in the Bible. They are presented in the list below along with the accompanying Rashi interpretation. In each case Rashi interprets the verse as if the word was Stricken out.
    • Nu21-30b: We have shot at them--Heshbon unto Dibon is destroyed, and we have laid waste even unto Nophah, which reaches to Maydvah Rashi: The Waste is stricken indicating an intense laying waste - in fact, totally striking out the inhabitants!
    • Nu03-39a: All that were numbered of the Levites, whom Moses and Aaron numbered at the commandment of HaShem, by their families, all the males from a month old and upward, were twenty and two thousand. Rashi: Aaron was stricken from the census--that is he wasn't counted since he was a Levite.
    • Gn33-04b: And Esau ran to meet him [Jacob], and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him; and they wept. Rashi: The kiss should be stricken from the record! It wasn't a real (i.e. sincere) kiss since Esau really hated Jacob. Rashi offers an alternative explanation: The kiss should be stricken from the record since it was the only sincere kiss. All other kisses were insincere.
    • Dt29-29a: The secret things [sins] belong unto HaShem our G-d; but the things [sins] that are revealed belong [are visited] unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law. Rashi: Revealed should be stricken. Revealed sins weren't always visited upon the community; they weren't visited upon the community till after the conquest of Israel in the time of Joshua.
    • Gn37-12a: And his brethren went to shepard their father's flock in Shechem. Rashi: The word shepard should be stricken out since they didn't really go to shepard sheep; rather they went to escape their father who favored Joseph.
    • Nu09-10a: Speak unto the children of Israel, saying: If any man of you or of your generations shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey afar off, yet he shall keep the passover unto HaShem; Rashi: The requirement far off should be stricken. One need not be absolutely far away - but far away enough not to be able to come to Jerusalem.
    • Gn18-09: And they said to him: 'Where is Sarah thy wife?' And he said: 'Behold, in the tent.' Rashi: The phrase to him should be stricken. They said it generally, not just to him. When they met Abraham they said to him where is your spouse. Similarly when they met Sarah they said where is your spouse.
    • Gn19-33c And they made their father drink wine that night; and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. Rashi: The phrase nor when she arose is dotted indicating a strikeout: Lot really did know when she arose and even so did not avoid a recurrence on the 2nd night with his second daughter. [How can Rashi say he did know if the verse explicitly say he didn't know? Probably Rashi meant that e.g. he had a visual sexual dream about the affair so he really suspected it].

    Advanced Rashi: Rashi literally says VaNaSShim. The [letter] Hebrew Shin punctuated with a dagesh, denoting æwasteÆ Heb. Shemamah. It is tempting to either interpret Rashi as meaning
    • The dotted Shin stands for Shemamah the Hebrew word for desolation beginning with a Shin. or
    • The dotted Shin indicates a silent mem indicating the root Shin-Mem-Mem, which means desolation; or
    • The dotted shin indicates strikeout. Here the strikeout is symbolic of the striking out of people intensifying the desolation indicated by the biblical word, NaNaShim.
    In other words we don't interpret the dot on the letter Shin as indicating the first letter of an alternate word of destruction nor do we see this dotted letter indicating a missing root letter (Which can be inferred in other ways). Rather we interpret the dotted shin consistent with other occurrences of dots in the Bible. The dot indicates some aspect of strikeout which in this case we have applied to the people being destroyed.

Thus this strikeout is instructive of alternate approaches to reading Rashi. We have selected the reading of Rashi consistent with other strikeouts. We think this the most appropriate approach.

      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 Nu20-01c
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: Moses and Aaron died on the word of God - kiss death. Miryam also died that way but for modesty reasons it is not explicitly stated biblically.

Verse Nu20-01c
Hebrew Verse וַיָּבֹאוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל כָּל הָעֵדָה מִדְבַּר צִן בַּחֹדֶשׁ הָרִאשׁוֹן וַיֵּשֶׁב הָעָם בְּקָדֵשׁ וַתָּמָת שָׁם מִרְיָם וַתִּקָּבֵר שָׁם:
English Verse The entire congregation of the children of Israel arrived at the desert of Zin in the first month, and the people settled in Kadesh. Miriam died there and was buried there.
Rashi Header Hebrew ותמת שם מרים
Rashi Text Hebrew אף היא בנשיקה מתה ומפני מה לא נאמר בה על פי ה', שאינו דרך כבוד של מעלה. ובאהרן נאמר על פי ה', באלה מסעי (במדבר לג, לח):
Rashi Header Enlish Miriam died there
Rashi Text English She too died through a kiss [from God’s mouth rather than by the angel of death]. Why does it not say “by God’s mouth” [as it does with Moses]? Because it is not respectful to speak of the Most High in this way (M.K. 28a). Concerning Aaron it does say “by God’s mouth” in [the portion beginning] “These are the Journeys” (33:38).

We ask the following database query: Who in the Bible died by the word of God. 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: Moses and Aaron died by the word of God. This refers to death by a prophetic experience so that the soul immediately joins with God without undergoing the pains of death. It seems reasonable that Miryam, whom the Bible identifies as a prophet, also died the same way. However the Bible did not explicitly say by the mouth of God when discussing her death, for reasons of Modesty. The list below presents the results of the database query and shows examples

Person Biblical Verse Text of Verse Comments
Moses Dt34-05 And Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there, in the land of Moab, by the mouth of the Lord. Death by mouth of God, i.e., by prophetic experience
Aaron Nu33-38 Aaron the kohen ascended Mount Hor by the mouth of God and died there, on the first day of the fifth month in the fortieth year of the children of Israel's exodus from Egypt. Death by mouth of God, i.e., by prophetic experience
Miriam Nu20-01 The entire congregation of the children of Israel arrived at the desert of Zin in the first month, and the people settled in Kadesh. Miriam died there and was buried there. It seems reasonable that Miriam, who was called a Prophetess (Ex15-20) also, like her brothers, died by prophetic experience. However the Bible doesn't explicitly state by the mouth of God for reasons of modesty.

    BRIEF EXPLANATION: The common denominator of the 3 submethods of the Spreadsheet 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 example applies to Rashis Nu20-10a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: Moses congregated the nation facing the rock. RASHI: This is one of the places in the Bible where a small space held many people

Verse Nu20-10a
Hebrew Verse "ַיַּקְהִלוּ מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן אֶת הַקָּהָל אֶל פְּנֵי הַסָּלַע וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם שִׁמְעוּ נָא הַמֹּרִים הֲמִן הַסֶּלַע הַזֶּה נוֹצִיא לָכֶם מָיִם:
English Verse Moses and Aaron assembled the congregation in front of the rock, and he said to them, Now listen, you rebels, can we draw water for you from this rock?
Rashi Header Hebrew ויקהלו וגו'
Rashi Text Hebrew זה אחד מן המקומות שהחזיק מועט את המרובה:
Rashi Header Enlish assembled
Rashi Text English This is one of the places where we find that a small area held a large number [of people]. — [Midrash Tanchuma Chukath 9, Lev. Rabbah 10:9, Num. Rabbah 19:9]

This Rashi discusses space capacity and hence we classified it as a Spreadsheet-diagram method. To properly understand this Rashi we cite Rambam, Laws of Sales, Chapter 21, laws 6/7. Rambam explains that every person when standing occupies a square that is roughly 6 x 7 handbreadths, say 24 x 28 inches. To make things simple let us round up symmetrically and say that every person can comfortably stand in a 30 x 30 (2.5' x 2.5') square. We can now explain the space capacity of the rock.

  • Every person requires a 2.5' x 2.5' square in which to stand comfortably.
  • 600,000 males can stand in a 775 person x 775 person square.
  • So 600,000 males can stand in a square whose sides are 775 x 2.5' = 3.5 tenths of an American mile.
  • In more familiar terms the American mile is roughly 20 small city blocks.
  • So 600,000 males can stand in a 7 small-city-block x 7 small-city-block square.

It is reasonable that the rock from which the water came was about 7 small-city-block squares (This is not very big). Thus the whole nation assembled facing the rock!

A precedent for all the above is the recent inauguration of President Barak Obama. That inauguration was duly televised and there were over a million people facing the podium on which the President was sworn in and spoke, similar to the half million people standing before the rock and Moses.

Advanced Rashi: But there is a deep punchy insight from all of this. If people are so densely packed in 7 x 7 city blocks then the slightest uninvited movements could easily crush people. But no one was crushed. So God's request to speak formally and politely takes on a double meaning. The nation trusted Moses. They came out to witness the miracle of the water from the rock. When Moses insulted them and called them rebellious he ran the risk of some rabble rousers inciting the mob leading to crushed deaths. That of course didn't happen. But Moses had taken risks of leadership which could endanger lives and God wouldn't allow that to be repeated. The person who led the Jews into Israel had to be mindful of the vulnerabilities of the nation. This gives new insight both to both Moses' sin and God's punishment of Moses.

      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 Nu20-12b
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: The Jews made 3 types of complaints: a) Let us return to Egypt, b) Let us not listen to God's orders (e.g. don't gather manna on Sabbath) and c) requests for food. The requests for food were PROPER; Moses should not have screamed at the people.

Verse Nu20-12b
Hebrew Verse וַיֹּאמֶר יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֶל מֹשֶׁה וְאֶל אַהֲרֹן יַעַן לֹא הֶאֱמַנְתֶּם בִּי לְהַקְדִּישֵׁנִי לְעֵינֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לָכֵן לֹא תָבִיאוּ אֶת הַקָּהָל הַזֶּה אֶל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נָתַתִּי לָהֶם:
English Verse The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, Since you did not have faith in Me to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly to the Land which I have given them.
Rashi Header Hebrew להקדישני
Rashi Text Hebrew שאילו דברתם אל הסלע והוציא הייתי מקודש לעיני העדה ואומרים מה סלע זה שאינו מדבר ואינו שומע ואינו צריך לפרנסה מקיים דבורו של מקום, קל וחומר אנו:
Rashi Header Enlish to sanctify Me
Rashi Text English For had you spoken to the rock and it had given forth [water], I would have been sanctified in the eyes of the congregation. They would have said,If this rock, which neither speaks nor hears, and does not require sustenance, fulfills the word of the Omnipresent, how much more should we! - [Midrash Aggadah]

    The complaints of the Jews in the wilderness naturally classify into three categories:
  • Complaints to return to Egypt: These complaints were improper and either Moses in the name of God rebuked the nation or God punished the nation (e.g. Nu21-05:09);
  • Disobeying God's orders: These complaints also let to rebuke or punishment. A classical example is the disobeying of the order not to gather Manna on the Sabbath (Ex16-27:30.)
  • Requests for food/water: Since these complaints were proper, Moses should have treated the people respectfully and given them the food without rebuke. However Moses literally insulted the Jewish people for their proper request of food/water at Nu20-07:13.

Before explaining Rashi we recall (from other digests) that we have explained the Hebrew concept of Kedushah, normally translated as holiness as really meaning a formal atmoshphere.

We can now understand the Rashi on Nu20-12c: The biblical text states God said to Moses and Aaron: Because you have not depended on me and (therefore) not acted formally with the Jewish people, therefore you will not bring the Jews to the chosen land.

An analogy will clarify: Suppose you were at an expensive banquet. You hadn't eaten in a while. You start complaining for dinner. The appropriate response might be formal on the part of the chefs: Kindly sit down sir and dinner will be immediately served. On the other hand if you started violating property rights of the banquet hall you would be admonished and threatened with dismissal.

I believe the analogy captures the essence of Rashi's comments. Kedushah normally translated as holiness really refers to a formal atmosphere. The Jewish request for food was proper and Moses should have retained the formal atmosphere rather than insulting them and treating them as former slaves.

Rashi's literal formulation is as follows: For had you spoken to the rock and it had given forth [water], I would have maintained the formal atmosphere in the eyes of the congregation. They would have said,If this rock, which neither speaks nor hears, and does not require sustenance, fulfills the word of the Omnipresent, how much more should we! - [Midrash Aggadah]

Although Rashi formulates his concept by symbolically comparing the Jewish personality to a stone, the major thrust of Rashi is as we explained above: To preserve a formal atmosphere. If we had more space we could show several other biblical passages and Rashis developing this theme that God treated respectfully and formally the Jewish people in their requests for food/water.


This week's parshah contains examples of all Rashi methods. Visit the RashiYomi website at for further details and examples.