Certain Biblical paragraphs are stated in a 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.
Tamar's execution for committing incest with her father-in-law
When she was brought out [to be burnt], she sent to her father-in-law, saying, By the man, whose these are, am I with child; and she said, please Discern,
whose are these, the signet, and bracelets, and staff. [Rashi:
But she did not outright state, These are yours; you are the father.]
The Rabbi Ishmael example rule requires generalization
of this passage. In this case we simply generalize
any person should prefer to be burnt alive rather than publicly
There is a legal aspect to Rashi's point. After all why not argue that Danger to life (being burnt) overrides
all Biblical commandments including the Biblical obligation not to embarass someone? I think therefore,
that Rashi's point is that embarassing someone is so confrontational that it would not necessarily accomplish
anything (e.g. people do not admit they are wrong under the duress of embarassment). In other words Rashi's
point is real-world vs. legal: If you want to accomplish something in a situation with embarassment you shouldn't be
confrontational. Even if your life is in danger, embarassment is such a powerful emotion that discretion and
respect are the only methods to accomplish your goals.