Rashi-Is-Simple Mailing List
                        (C) Dr Russell Jay Hendel, 1999

                         Volume 1 Number 21
                        Prodcued Mar, 26 1999

Topics Discussed in This Issue
v0326 - Administrivia
v5d26-5 From the Hagaddah. Rashi encourages student research
v5a26-5 ANH means a) answer, b) testify, c) refrain...
v3-8-36 Rashi contrasts this CHAPTER (obey) with next CHAPTER(disobey)
v3-7-20 Bible uses Plural vs Singular to indicate parenthetical remark
v3q1-5 Question from Chaiim Brown on 3-1-5
v3q6-2 Chaiim Brown points out that Rashi Is Simple follows Ramban

#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*# (C) Dr Hendel, 1999 *#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*
v0326 Administrivia

                ***** SPECIAL PASSOVER ISSUE *******

Happy Passover. This and the next few issues will cover Passover

In this issue we discuss Rashi on the famous Hagaddah theme
From An Aramaen did my father lose his job, he went down to Egypt.

If you only have time, just read the first posting (V5d26-5). Learn
how to spice up your seder with children participation.

Finally, if you have learned from these issues of Rashi Is Simple
then mention it to your friends and families during Passover--have
them browse the website and subscribe if they want more

Happy Passover to everybody
Russell Jay Hendel; Moderator, Rashi Is Simple

#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*# (C) Dr Hendel, 1999 *#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*

VERSE: v5d26-5 We went down to Egypt with only a few people
* "Only a few people": This corresponds to the verse
        "With 70 people the Jews went down to Egypt 1-46-27"

* First, Rashi is not bothered by anything in the verse.
In fact nothing in the verse is troublesome or ungrammatical.

Rashi was of course citing the BEGINNING of the analysis of
this verse as found in the Passover Haggadah.  We have
already seen that when Rashi wants to cite a WHOLE CHAPTER
of something he will very often cite only the first paragraph
or two thereby indicating that he is encouraging similar
analysis (See our comments on Rashi on v2-32-13). Indeed
there are no other citations from the Hagaddah in Rashi
and it is therefore clear that he cited the first one in order
to encourage reading the rest.

But Rashi was just following the Hagaddah. What was the Hagaddah
up to?

The answer to me lies in the fact that Passover is an educational
DO BIBLICAL RESEARCH. But how would you start an encouragement to
do Biblical research? By teaching people the most basic skill of
research---that is the art of PROVING THINGS BY CITATIONS AND

So if our current text says "WITH A FEW PEOPLE" then a proof or
reference to this is the Biblical verse which states that we were
only 70 people when we came down to Egypt (1-46-27). Note also how
the citation enriches our understanding of "WITH A FEW PEOPLE" by
giving more detail (Not just "a few" but "70 people")

But, you will ask, how do you know that TEACHING HOW TO CITE was
the primary intention of the Hagaddah? Maybe CITATION is just
a side effect, something secondary in the Hagaddah.

I know this because as {LIST1} shows every phrase in this verse
is treated that way. Every time a phrase is cited the Hagaddah
immediately gives another verse that supports it.

Furthermore as anyone who studies Biblical texts knows, all the
other methods of studying texts---contradictory verses,
generalizations, grammatical analysis---they are all absent.  So
it is clear that the Hagaddah wanted to emphasize CITATION since
that is all that is there

So Rashi Is Simple. He took the first phrase in the verse and
cited the Hagaddah on that phrase which teaches us that the
simplest method of studying a verse is to cite other verses
that support it and give further details.

One approach I have used (in classes and on Passover Seders
where the children and parents are willing) is to bring a
Bible to the table, open up Exodus and start reading the
text "An Aramean...."

After each phrase I say "Who can find a similar verse in the
book of Exodus" (Sometimes of course Children will come up
with solutions other than that posed by the Hagaddah...this
of course is exactly what the hagaddah and Rashi were

A Happy holiday to everyone.


LISTS {For ADVANCED students and for those with more time}:
* {LIST1} {The analysis of 5-26-5 by citing references}

IN              VERSE           TEXT
------          ----------      ----
Jews went
down to Egypt

as a few people 1-46-27         they went down to Egypt as 70

and they became
big there       2-1-7           and the Jews multiplied greatly

and plentiful   Ez16-7          I have made you plentiful

& the egytians  2-1-10          Come let us plot against the Jews
mistreated us                   lest they outnumber us & defeat us

and we prayed   2-2-23          And in those days after the king
to God                          died the Jews prayed to God

And God heard   2-2-24          And God heard their prayers

And saw our     2-2-25          And God saw the Jews and
rapes*                          reenabled them to have intimacy

saw our toil    2-1-22          all sons that are born to the Jews
                                Should be drown

saw our being   2-2-9           And I have also seen the Shoving
shoved around#                  around by the Egyptians

* A little poetic lisence on this row...but it is consistent
with the content of the Hagaddah.

# The rest of this chapter is treated similarly.



RULE CLASSIFICATION {See the web site for comparable examples}:

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VERSE: v5a26-5 And you will REFRAIN and say "(From an) Aramaen my
------          father  lost his job, he went down to Egypt..."

* REFRAIN (Literally "ANSWER")--In Biblical language this connotes
an activity where one "raises ones voice"

* The literal meaning of the Biblical verse is
        "And you will ANSWER and SAY..."
But there are dozens of times that "and you will
say..." occurs in Chumash, and they are never preceded by "..and
you will answer". Indeed, as {LIST1} shows even when the person is
actually answering somebody the Bible still does not say, "..and
(s)he answered and said". Thus the usual translation of "answer"
does not work here.

To solve our problem we must research the meaning of the root
ANH. Radack,in his classical work, ROOTS gives about 10 meanings
to this ROOT {LIST2}. The relevant meaning here is REFRAIN--by
REFRAIN I mean an identical response that is repeatedly given.
So if e.g. you are singing a song then the refrain is the stanza
that is identically repeated after each part. The translation
REFRAIN is not a 100% since in English REFRAIN applies only to
songs while in Hebrew it applies to SITUATIONS as well.

So the meaning here is clear: The Bible says that when you go to
Israel and have ANY type of harvest then you will bring the
first fruits and ALWAYS SAY (=REFRAIN) "Thank you God...Laban
and Egypt tried to destroy us and now we have our own land"

I mention in passing that one of my students in my Lower Merion
Synagogue class offered the translation "ASSERT". Indeed, if we
use our research methodology and look over {LIST2} we see that
TESTIFY is one of the official meanings of ANH. So the verse
could mean: "And you will assert/testify before God: 'An Aramaen."

Rashi of course says "REFRAIN=A raising of voices". This is
because the refrain is usually said by the whole audience
and therefore is louder than the rest of the song.

Perhaps Rashi was also alluding to the concept of assertion
and testimony which usually involves a raising of voice.

You will ask: But how do you know that Rashi believed that
ANH means REFRAIN? Maybe he does mean a raising of voice?

The answer is simple---for on 2-15-21 he says explicitly
        "Moses sung and Miriam and the women answered"
thus showing that Rashi believed that ANH really means
a refrain.

LISTS {For ADVANCED students and for those with more time}:
{LIST1} {Of verses where someone is answering but it still does
        not say "And you will answer & say" but rather just says
        "& you will answer"}

VERSE   SITUATION                       TEXT
-----   ---------                       ----
1-32-19 What to answer Esauv            And you will say "A present.
2-3-16  What to answer the Jews         And you will say "God asked.
2-13-14 How to answer the children      And you will say "God saved.
5-6-21  How to answer the children      And you will say "God saved.
1-46-34 When Pharoh asks your vocation  And you will say "Shepards..

* There are also many verses where "And he answered and said"
occurs. We would treat them all the way we have treated this
verse as "He refrained and said".

Perhaps the clearest such verse is 4-23-12 where
Bilam asked Balak to curse the Jewish
people and took him to 3 places to curse and in each case he
blessed them. Upon hearing the blessing Bilam said "I took you to
curse them, why did you bless them" and the text says that
        "Balak REFRAINED and answered him: I can only say what
                God allows"

The meaning REFRAIN fits in perfectly here since it was a refrain.
Every time Bilam answered him Balack RESPONDED IN THE SAME MANNER
which is exactly the definition of REFRAIN.

Note also that there is no "song" or "mourning" present in this
situation between Balak and Bilaam. So even though Radack says
raising voice in song or mourning we see that "singing" and
mourning are not strictly necessary. Rather the main idea
is one of a REFRAIN to some SITUATION, whether there is song there
or not.

(This correction or modification of the Radacks translation
is a frequent theme in this list when giving
translations -- very often the exact nuances of the word do  not
follow all details of the classical translations which however
do give good examples...so "raising voice in song" is an excellent
intuitive description of "refrain" but does not fully capture its

{LIST2} {Of meanings of the root ANH, courtesy of Radack}

-------         ---------------         ----
Answer          1R18-37                 answer me,God, answer me

Testify         2-20-16                 don't testify falsely

Raising voice   2-15-21                 & Miriam raised her voice
in song*                                in song and answered

subdue          P119-71                 It's good God subdued me

poor            Ex16-49                 ..didn't support the poor

fast            Ez9-5                   I got up from my fast

humble          4-12-3                  Moses was more humble...

situation       Ecc1-13                 This is a bad situation

rape            5-22-29                 ..because he raped her

(sexual)intimacy2-21-11**               ..food,clothing & intimacy

furrows         P129-3                  ..made their furrows long

** This meaning of "intimacy" is not brought separately by the
Radack but is well known

* This is the classical explanation as given by Radack and Rashi.
My own opinion is that it corresponds to the idea of a REFRAIN in
a song (which is usually done in a louder voice). Thus we would

{LIST3} {Of verses where ANH=RAISING VOICE but we suggest REFRAIN}

VERSE           TEXT
-----           ----
2-15-21         And Miriam REFRAINED to Moses "Sing to God because."

2-32-18         ..it is the voice of singing and refrains

Hos2-17         ..& she'll refrain on songs there as in her youth

P147-7          ..refrain to God during a thanksgiving offering

* 2-16-20. At the time of the Song by the Red Sea...Moses sang song
and the text continues "Miriam and the women REFRAINED to them
saying: 'Sing to God...'"

Rashi on 2-16-20 says "Moses sang and Miriam ANSWERED"
It superficially looks like Rashi is translating this as ANSWERED
But Rashi is really translating this as "Moses sang and she
answered" which is the DEFINITION of REFRAIN.


RULE CLASSIFICATION {See the web site for comparable examples}:

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VERSE: v3-8-36 & Aaron & his sons did ..what God commanded Moses
* The verse tells us the good character traits of Aaron...that
he and his sons obeyed all details of the commandments (even
though they heard it second hand from Moses and not directly from

* First, there is nothing problematic with this verse--
no strange grammar, nor anything "extra" or in violation of any
rules. Indeed, many paragraphs end with a statement that the
listeners followed Gods commands {LIST1}. In short nothing
bothered Rashi.

NEXT PARAGRAPH. This paragraph ends with a statement that Aaron
and his sons obeyed God's commandment. The very next paragraph
indicates how some of Aarons sons volunteered temple services
they had not been asked and died. So Rashi is simply contrasting
the two paragraphs. One shows a death penalty for people who
did not do as asked and this one, by contrast, implicitly praises
those who did do as God asked.{LIST2}

* I have taught numerous Rashi classes over the years either to
groups or individuals. I have taught Rashi to children, high school
students and discussed it with Rabbis.

Uniformly, I find one thing bothers people the most---looking at
overall structure. Almost everybody is good at tearing a sentence
aparat and finding out "what is extra". But many Rashis come from
contrasts of Paragraphs.

One purpose of this email group is to give readers the skill
competencies needed to analyze any Rashi. Therefore I will continue
to emphasize those Rashis which use skills in which people have not
been traditionally taught. The skill competency of comparing
adjacent paragraphs for overall structure is important.

LISTS {For ADVANCED students and for those with more time}:
* {LIST1} {Lists of paragraphs ending with "They did as commanded"}


It would be nice to find some uniform theme on WHEN a paragraph
ends with "They did as commanded".

I should mention that there are commentaries on why
some (but not all) of these paragraphs end with "They did as
commanded". We will comment and defend these as they occur
in Rashi.  My real point here is that Rashi on 3-8-26
is NOT giving a GENERAL reason why it says at the end of
some paragraphs "And they did as commanded" but rather is
For in this verse it says "And they did as commanded" because
of the contrast that in the next chapter the sons did as
commanded and died while in this chapter they did as
commanded and lived.

{LIST2} {Contrast of the two paragraphs in Leviticus 8 and 9}

---------       -----------
BEGIN:3-8-1     Moses ordered them the priests concerning the
END: 3-8-37     consecration ceremony

                The chapter ends: And they did as God commanded

BEGIN:3-9-1     Moses gave more orders concerning consecration
END: 3-10-7
                The chapter ends with a description of how
                the sons of Aaron did something in the temple
                that they were not commanded and died



RULE CLASSIFICATION {See the web site for comparable examples}:

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VERSE: v3-7-20 In the same place that Burnt offerings are slaughtered
------          will Guilt offerings be slaughtered
* This teaches us that all burnt offerings (even communal ones) are
slaughtered in the north

* Let us first rewrite the paragraph using modern tools of
punctuation and emphasis:

                   IT IS A VERY HOLY OFFERING---
        * (As for the place of slaughtering any guilt offering:it is
        identical with the places where any burnt offering is

        * its blood is thrown around the altar
        * all its fat is offered--the ......
        * and the priest shall burn them on the altar,...
        * any male priest can eat it;it'll be eaten in a holy place

        # Sin offerings and guilt offerings are the same--they
                belong to the priest who offers them
        # Burnt offering skins belong to the priest who offered it
        # Minchah offerings belong to the offering priest unit

The first part of the paragraph (with asterisks, *) talks
about the Guilt Offering procedure. The 2nd part of the paragraph
(with #s) talks about ownership of offering leftovers.

In our English version the sentence on SLAUGHTERING is parenthetical
--it is indented with dashes and placed in parenthesis. This
parenthetical notation indicates that the content is general & not
just about Guilt offerings: "Every slaughtering of guilt offerings
or burnt offerings happens in the same place." This is exactly what
Rashi says. So we see that Rashi is Simple.

But the Bible never used Parenthesis or indentations. How then does
it indicate parenthetical remarks?

It does so by grammatical shifts that distinguish it from the rest
of the paragraph. For as {LIST1} below shows...all verbs in this
chapter are in the singular EXCEPT for the sentence on slaughtering
which is in the plural.

So the proper translation of this plural is ANYone slaughtering a
burnt offering does it in the same place as ANYone slaughtering a
guilt offering. The remark should be perceived as parenthetical.

* Rashi loves puns. His exact language is "Slaughtering: PLURAL:
Indicating MANY slaughterings"

So it looks as if Rashi is taking the PLURAL form which denotes
many doers and learning from it that many slaughterings are being
talked about.

But as we have constantly emphasized in this list it is poor taste
to learn the meaning of a sentence from an extra word taken out
of context.

Rather as we have indicated, the PLURAL FORM indicates a
PARENTHETICAL remark which is then interpreted, as in English
as talking generally.

Finally a word about lists. I have shown below that this is the
only sentence in the chapter that is plural (Every other one is

But a more thorough justification of Rashi would require a list
of parenthetical sentences. I don't have such a list now. But it
is required and I hope as this email list develops we can give
more examples. (And if we don't find such a list then we will
have to declare this explanation wrong and redo it!!!!)

LISTS {For ADVANCED students and for those with more time}:
{LIST1} {Of plurality of verbs in the chapter on guilt offerings}

-----   ----            ---------
3-7-2   slaughter       plural
3-7-2   slaughter       plural
3-7-2   sprinkle        singular
3-7-3   offer           singular
3-7-4   remove          singular
3-7-5   offer           singular



RULE CLASSIFICATION {See the web site for comparable examples}:

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VERSE: v3q1-5 Question on Rashi of Leviticus 1:5
From: C1A1Brown@aol.com
To: rjhendel@juno.com
Date: Sun, 21 Mar 1999 13:28:42 EST

You wanted to deal with the hard Rashi's.
Well, I think this will be an easy one for you, but I'll throw it out anyway.
Yake a look at Rashi on VaYikra 1:5  where Rashi explains that the extra word
kohanim to exclude zarim.  See Rashi on 1:8 where he uses the same extra word
kohanim to learn that the bigdei kehuna must be worn.  Don't answer that we
laready know the exclusion of non-konaim from 1:5 because I could argue that
that exclusion is limited to zerikat hadam, not to the placement on the
mizbayach which 1:8 refers to.

One other point - 5:17 Rashi cites a lengthy Midrashic comment of which only
the first sentence is necessary to explain the pasuk.  Why the elaboration?
Perhaps another indication that  Rashi is not strictly a peirush on
difficulties in the text, but also uses chumash as a vehicle to teach well
known Midrashic lessons (a view that enjoys less popularity than Necahama
Leibovitz's (a"h) 'mah kashe l'rashi' approach).


#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*# (C) Dr Hendel, 1999 *#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*

VERSE: v3q6-2 Question of "COMMAND Aaron..."

From: C1A1Brown@aol.com
To: rjhendel@juno.com
Date: Tue, 23 Mar 1999 19:55:51 EST
Subject: RAshi

>>>Similarly I have seen people dwell on the parenthetical words in
Rashi (which were not put in by him) "Commandments which have
monetary loss (because the Burnt offering had no parts for the

See Ramban who had this text of Rashi,
indicating at least some early versions
of Rashi had these words.

>>>Such a reading of Rashi is inadequate...for it doesn't explain
anything...for there are many commands with monetary loss (like
the Kashruth laws) and they are not introduced with COMMAND.<<<

Or the flipside: there is no monetary loss here (Ramban's question).

>>>Furthermore one has to be URGENT on all commandments.<<<

You forgot the crucial words in Rashi - 'ldoros'.
Rashi (IMHO) does not mean
to stress the urgency of the imperitive,
but the fact that it is not specific
to the miluim or the erection of the Mishkan,
but is a mitzva for all times.

>>>Rather as I have said many times the proper way to read Rashi is
to first study lists of verses and try and get an approximate
idea of the problem and possible solutions.<<<

Again, see Ramban's treatment of R' Shimon
who deduces from the other places
that R' Shimom could not possibly be commenting on our pasuk.

>>>The sifrah adds the opinion of Rav Shimon that command is used
        "all the more so if there is monetary loss"
But this statement cannot be taken out of context. You cannot say
because the burnt offering is totally offered unlike the shlamim
which is partially offered and the priests eat the rest"

You cannot say that because it totally ignores all lists.<<<

You are mechavain to the Ramban!

Rather Rav Shimon is ADDING (not offering a different) criteria.

See Mizrachi who writes such as an
explanation of Rashi.  It is a rather long
Mizrachi to summarize (and I haven't yet had
time to look at it adequetly myself : - )


#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*# (C) Dr Hendel, 1999 *#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*

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e.g. v5b2-1 means as follows:
        The "v"         means           verse
        The "5"         means           Deuteronomy--the 5th book
        The "2"         means           The 2nd chapter
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