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

                        Volume 2 Number 25
                        Produced Jul, 21 1999

Topics Discussed in This Issue
v5-4-28 ELOHIM means BOTH a)God b) Judge in many verses
v5-4-25 Long periods of time can create stagnation in a society

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VERSE: v5-4-28

        v5-4-28 And you shall serve other Judges/gods (ELOHIM)

        v2-22-27 Do not curse a Judge; Don't curse the King
        [Moderator: The word used in all these verses,
        ELOHIM, can mean BOTH Judge, god, or GOD. This
        ambiguity of meaning will be skillfully exploited

        v1a6-2 And the sons of Judges  saw the girls...& took

        v2c4-16 And you (Moses) will be to him(Aaron) a LEADER
        [Moderator: Again the word ELOHIM is used which in this
        case means that Moses will lead AARON]

        v2a7-1 You(Moses) will be a Judge to Pharoh


        v5-4-28 The meaning of this verse (You will serve
        other Judges/gods) follows the aramaic translation.
        "You will be under the jurisdiction of other Judges
        (ELOHIM) and hence since these Judges follow their
        religion you will be under the jurisdiction of
        other gods (ELOHIM)

        v2-22-27 Do not curse a Judge implies that you
        should not curse a Judge or God

        v1a6-2 The "sons of ELOHIM" means the sons of the Judges
        Similarly the "sons of ELOHIM" can mean the prophets who
        are like the sons of God. Indeed, the word ELOHIM in
        the Bible always denotes Higher Rank. The
        clearest proof comes from the explicit statements that
        "You (Moses) will be for him (Aaron) as a Judge/leader"
        (v2-4-16).  Similarly v2-7-1, "See I have made you as
        a Judge to Pharoh and Aaron will be your prophet"

        v2c4-16 ELOHIM means Master and Leader

        v2a7-1 ELOHIM means Judge--because Moses judged Pharoh
        with the 10 plagues.


First, the Hebrew word ELOHIM can refer to a Judge, a god,
God Himself, prophet or leader {LIST1}

Thus 5-4-28 appears to be ambiguous---It might mean a
punishment that you will be under the jurisdiction of other
non-jewish Judges. Or, it might mean you will see much
intermarriage and acceptance of other gods.

But Rashi Is Simple. It means both! If you are under the
jurisdiction of non-jewish judges then you end up following
their legal opinions which derive from their gods. (So for
example even here in a non-religious state like America, we
legally have off from work on Christmas, and our tax money
goes to make stamps with Christian themes or to decorate our
streets with Christman symbols (How much more so in religious
countries)). Therefore a person who is subservient to non jewish
judges is as if he serves their gods. (Rashi notes that
the Aramaic translation advances a similar notion)

This completes the explanation of 5-4-28. This idea of interpreting
a word simultaneously in two ways may appear ad-hoc. It is therefore
refreshing to see that both Rashi and Rambam use the same technique
on v2-22-27.

Indeed Rashi explicitly says on v2-22-27 "This verse is a warning
against cursing God and it is a warning against cursing a Judge"

Similarly, in Sanhedrin 26:1 Rambam explicitly says that v2-22-27
is the verse prohibiting cursing a Judge while in Idolatry 2:8 he
also explicitly says that v2-22-27 is the verse prohibiting

The method of interpretation should be clear--v2-22-27 says
You should not curse ANY Judge--whether human or Divine
In this way the verse can simultaneously mean BOTH things

I have found further support for this opinion--that Elohim can
simultaneously mean two things--by aligning the 2 halves of
v2-22-27 {LIST2}. The two halves while completely parallel differ in
2 phrases-the second half says "Don't curse a President IN YOUR
NATION" while the first half simply says "Don't curse a Judge".
Thus it could be suggested that only HUMAN Presidents (who are IN
YOUR NATION) should not be cursed while for Judges, ANY Judge
(whether in your nation or not) should not be cursed.

According to this approach, the prohibition of cursing a judge
would be learned from the statement "Don't curse a judge" while
the extension of this prohibition to cursing God would be learned
from the extra phrase IN YOUR NATION in the 2nd half of the verse.
(See {LIST2} for the alignment and further comments on this extra

As can be easily seen this approach---of using simultaneously
several meanings, fits in nicely with the other verses we are
reviewing. Thus even v2-7-1 seems to say Moses would act as a
Judge to Pharoh(since he brought the 10 plagues on him). But Moses
also acted as an emissary of God and prophet. Similarly on 2-4-16
although Moses was primarily a LEADER to Aaron, Moses also
acted as a propeht for Aaron (thruout the Bible Moses gave
Aaron orders) and as a Judge (See 3-10-16)


LISTS {For ADVANCED students and for those with more time}:

{LIST1} {The 5 meanings of E-L-H, courtesy of RDQ, Book of Roots}

======= ======= ====================================================
God     1-1-1   In the beginning God created heaven and earth
god     2-12-12 Against all the gods of Egypt I will do justice
judge   2Ch15-3 For a long time Jews had no Judges,Priests,Teachers
leaders v1a6-2  The sons of the leaders took girls .. *1
Prophet 2S7-23  That a nation should have prophet/angels redeem them

*1 Rashi uses the translation LEADER on v2c4-16 but prefers JUDGES
on v1a6-2. But there is NO REAL CONTROVERSY between RDQ and Rashi.
Because as I have shown above ELOHIM simply means someone who
DOMINATES (Whether God, god, judge, leader or prophet). Furthermore
as I have shown above the word is very often intentionally used to
mean simultaneously all meanings. Hence, Rashi and RDQ simply
disagree not on the meaning of the verses but rather on which verse
illustrates which meaning the best. As shown above all Rishonim
believe in this SIMULTAENOUS MEANING approach.

{LIST2} {Alignment of the two halves of 2-22-27. The
        2 differences are explained in the footnotes}

v2-22-27        v2-22-27                FOOTNOTES
========        =============           ===========
                IN YOUR NATION                  *1
DO NOT          DO NOT
CURSE (KLL)     CURSE (ARR)                     *2

*1 I contend above that a president IN YOUR NATION means
someone HUMAN (in your nation)--in other words you should
not curse a HUMAN President. But for Judges you should not
curse ANY Judge (whether Human or Divine).

*2 KLL is the stronger form of curse while ARR is the
weaker form of curse. It would appear to me that the
Torah used the normal type of curses for presidents
since people don't normally curse a President that
strongly because they understand that he has to deal with multiple
groups. Hence even if the masses are hurt by the Presidents
decisions they are nevertheless sympathetic to his views.
On the other hand people who lose a court case are
usually very angry with the judge and strongly curse
him. (Alot more could be said on this second difference
including an explanation of why it says KLL vs KLH
brought down in Sanehdrin 66--but we suffice with
the above for now...if there is serious interest
I will right an addendum explaining this Gmarrah)



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VERSE: v5-4-25

        v5-4-25 When you have..grandchildren & GROW OLD(VNOSHNTEM)
        v3-13-11 It is an OLD (YSHN) ailment in the skin...

        v5-4-25 The word VNOSHANTEM hints that they will go into
        exile after 852 years since the Gematria of VNONSHANTEM
        is 852

        [Moderator: Gematria is a system whereby the letter "A" is
        assigned a 1, "B" is assigned a 2, "C" is assigned a 3...
        Furthermore words are assigned a value equal to the sum of
        the values of its letters. Thus CAB=3(="C")+1(="A")+2(B)=6.
        Gematria is frequently used in Midrash. For example I might
        want to say that Lady Di was kind like a Sheep since "D"
        in Gematria is 4 and "BAA", the sound of the sheep (as in
        baa baa black sheep) is also 2(B)+A(1)+A(1)=4.]

        The actual exile was after 850 years (not 852). God hastened
        the exile by 2 years because if He had waited we would have
        been destroyed. This waiting is also hinted at in a verse
        (Dan 9:14)"God hastened our punishment for God is Charitable
        That is, God did us a charitable act by bringing the
        punishment before we deserveed to be destroyed.

        v3-3-11 It is like an old wound below a scab--even though
        the wound looks healed (because of the scab) nevertheless
        it is pussy underneath the scab. In a similar manner you
        should not say that since the TZARATH ailment has a healthy
        spot therefore it is ritually pure (TAHOR). But on the
        contrary the healthy spot indicates remaining infection and
        hence it is ritually impure (TAMAY).


Rashi is not really bothered by anything in this verse. The verse
speaks about giving birth to children and grandchildren and becoming
old in the land. The extra phrase--becoming old in the land---simply
indicates a longer stay in the land (that is why the verse mentions
three stages "children, grandchildren,growing old in the land")
However Rashi wanted to ENHANCE APPRECIATION of the verse by giving
reasons why the deterioration of the Jewish people could only happen
after a long while (after we got OLD in the land).

Thus we are asserting that Rashi on this verse is to ENHANCE
There are other verses where Rashi ENHANCES APPRECIATION.
For example, v2a32-13 records Moses' prayer to God "Remember
the Patriarchs....". Rashi on v2a32-13 cites a whole chapter
of Midrash Rabbah---each paragraph in this chapter tries to
enhance our appreciation of why REMEMBERING THE PATRIARCHS is
appropriate in prayer. As we showed on v2a32-13 Rashi was using
Workbook methods--he encouraged each student to try and guess their
own reasons why remembering the Patriarchs is a valuable asset to

A similar approach applies to our verse--v4-4-25.  Readers of Rashi
are encouraged to guess why "Growing old in the land" facilitates
the deterioration and sinning that led to our exile (That is
what the verse says "WHEN you grow old in the land ...IF you then
sin then you will be punished). We will not spend about half
a dozen paragraphs indicating Rashi's comments on why BECOMING
OLD IN THE LAND facilitates sinning.

To answer this we cite a beautiful essay of Rav Hirsch entitled
YOU WILL BECOME OLD.  Rav Hirsch notes that there are two types
of societies.

There is an EMERGING society(eg the old west). It is characterized
by spirit & conquest. It is also characterized by lack of inhibiting
structure. Everyone can make it. Typical comments in the EMERGING
society are "Sure I'll give you a loan..so what if you don't have
collateral...I like what you are undertaking." Or "Sure we'll
overlook this..we need every man we can get to help us out with
the harvest or winter."

There is also an ESTABLISHED society. It is characterized by rules
and structure which can be inhibiting. Those who haven't made it
must go thru a path to achieve.  Typical comments in the ESTABLISHED
SOCIETY are "I can't OK your loan unless you meet our criteria for
needed collateral or income. Sorry." Or "I can't overlook this..if
I overlook it for you I will have to overlook it for everybody and
there will be total chaos."

The guiding principle of the ESTABLISHED SOCIETY is "Yes..your
suggestion might be correct..there might be a better way..but
we have been doing this for several 100 years..our system works
..we will not change for you."

The last paragraph explains why sin is so easy in the ESTABLISHED
SOCIETY---The established society maintains itself by the
argument "This is the way we do things around here...the system
has worked for several 100 years" Thus the established structure
inhibits new ideas and preserves the coverup of bad ideas.

This explanation of Rav Hirsch is supported by the MEANINGS of the
ROOT YShN {LIST1}. YShN refers to a)SLEEP, the b)ACT OF SLEEPING and
c)being OLD. An English analogy would be WORN OUT which can refer
to a WORN OUT object(=OLD object)or to a SLEEPY person(=WORN OUT!)
As is characteristic of the SLEEPY person he/she has lost his/her
capacity to be innovative. The SLEEPY person works by past habits.
So too the OLD (=WORN OUT) society works by past habits and has
lost its zest for innovation. Finally this meaning is further
supported by the etymology of YShN. The root YShN (WORN OUT) comes
from the root ShNH (to REPEAT). Thus an object becomes WORN OUT
by REPEATEDLY using it. A person becomes WORN OUT by
REPEATEDLY doing activity {LIST2} A Society becomes worn out by
repeating the same activities and not allowing innovation.

This then is the simple meaning of the text--"People may start
sinning when they get established in the land". For further comments
on why Rashi doesn't just say this outright, or why he uses
Gematrias see the COMMENTS ON RASHIS FORM section. We conclude this
section with a discussion on 3-13-11 which complements our
discussion above.

First some straightforward laws--a person with a square, snow-white,
non-raised patch on his/her skin has a status of a MTZORAH
(incorrectly translated as LEPOR). The MEZORAH has a ritually impure
status. When the white patch develops further signs (Such as
sprouting white hairs) the MEZORAH becomes CONFIRMED and requires
isolation and confinement as well as a sacrifice to recover his/her
ritually pure status.

There are 3 signs that cause CONFIRMATION of the MEZORAH--
(a) sprouting white hairs,
(b) spreading of the white patch and
(c) healthy skin inside the white patch.

Traditionally, based on an explicit Biblical text we view MEZORAH
as a punishment for severe personality faults such as a tendency
to slander. The 3 signs causing CONFIRMATION are therefore symbolic
of personality attributes that are involved in the MEZORAH person's
CURE of his/her bad personality faults.

v3-13-9:10 speak about a white patch with healthy skin. v3-13-11
says that the healthy skin inside the white patch causes
confirmation. Rashi explains this by an analogy. Two people come
before you, one with a fresh wound and one with an old wound (say
a few days old). The FRESH wound looks pussy while by contrast the
OLD wound looks "clean" (Because of the scab). Nevertheless, the
appearance of the old wound is misleading because the WHOLE PURPOSE
of the scab is to COVER up the pussy wound beneath it which is given
time to heal without external influences bothering it.  In other
words the healthy looking scab indicates not health but disease--
however the scab functions as a shield allowing the pussy wound
beneath it to heal.

So too with a snow-white patch with healthy skin inside. I might
have thought for example that the healthy skin diminishes the total
area of the snow-white patch and therefore it should become ritually
pure (since a minimum area is required). The above analogy however
teaches us that this is not so. The snow-white patch and healthy
inside is analogous to a wound with a scab. The scab looks good but
it covers up a pussy wound beneath it. Hence, although the healthy
skin looks good it is symptomatic of a fight between the snow-white
patch and the attempt at healing.

Indeed, to return to the analogy it is precisely when the scab forms
that THERE IS POSSIBILITY OF HEALING (since the scab protects the
pussy wound underneath from external influences). It is precisely
at such a time that complete rest is needed to facilitate healing.
Until the scab forms there is only a small possibility of extra
healing from confinement. So too it is precisely when the MEZORAH
shows SIGNS OF HEALTHY SKIN, it is then that he/she needs a
confinement/isolation in order to recover as well as a sacrifice
to cement the healing process. Before the healthy skin the isolation
would have had little affect on the person and the sacrifice would
not have caused personality healing. (This explanation of the
HEALTHY SKIN CONFIRMATION is due to Rav Hirsch).(I believe the
above interpretation (viewing scabs as an analogy to healthy skin,
completely explains the Rashi and answers the questions raised by
the Sifsay Chachamim and Ram.).


We have consistently taken the position in this list that Rashi
never believed in Gematrias. He rather used them as a vehicle for
remembering SIMPLE TEXTUAL meanings which were supported by clear
grammatical rules.

For example v1-32-5 says "I (Jacob) have 'inned' by Laban
and therefore did not write to you till now." Rashi comments
that Jacob felt uncomfortamble in Laban's house since Laban was
not religious but Jacob was religious. Rashi infers this from
the use of the term 'inned' by Laban vs 'lived' by Laban. However
Rashi does not say this. Instead he makes a pun or Gematria on the
fact that the Hebrew word for 'inned' is equal by Gematria to the
number of Biblical commandments.

In a similar manner here on v4-4-25--Rashi did not write the long
philosophical explanation of Rav Hirsch. Instead he chose a witty
Gematria found in the Talmud Sanhedrin (38a (not 35a as in some
printed texts of Rashi)). This Talmudic passage notes that the
Jews lasted 850 years in both temples. Since the Gematria of
VENOSHANTEN (You will get old) is 852 the Talmudic scholar Ulla
makes the association. Ulla further gives examples of JUST and
MERCIFUL treatments to old people who have diseases.
Let us use by analogy a person who eats high fat food
and has high cholesterol. That person will be lucky if
BEFORE his fatal heart attack he has angina pains. For even
though the angina pains are severe they will lead him to going
to a doctor who will cure not only his angina but his diet and
cholesterol problem also. In other words, it would be an act, not
of JUSTICE, but of MERCY, for God to make this person sick early
so that he can recover. So too did God treat the Jews. He threw
us out of Israel early so we could recover from the sin of
societal getting old.(More details are in Rashi and the
commentaries but the purpose of this list is to explain the simple
meaning of the Biblical text which we have done by citing Rav Hirshs

LISTS {For ADVANCED students and for those with more time}:

{LIST1} {Meanings of the root YShN courtesy of RDQ. An
        English analogy is provided. Thus the first line
        of the table means that WORN OUT in English can
        refer to a SLEEPY person which is obviously
        related to the HEBREW meaning TO SLEEP}

                 SAMPLE   ENGLISH   RELATION
========  ====== =======  ========  ========= =========
To sleep  Verb   Job3-13  Worn Out  Sleepy    Adjective
Old       Verb   v4-4-25  Worn out  worn out  Adjective

{LIST2} {Roots beginning with YUD that have the same meaning
        as the Last two letters of the Root}

=====  =====  =========== ===============================  ========
YAL    ALH    Curse/swear YAL and ALH have similar meaning      *1
YZM    ZMM    Plot        The meanings of YZM ZMM are equal     *1
YTV    TOV    GOOD        Two Roots with one meaning            *1
YAZ    AZZ    Brazen      YAZ AZZ have the same meaning         *1
YAT    ATH    Enwrap      YAT ATH have the same meaning         *1
YShM   ShMM   Destroyed   YShM has a meaning of ShMMaH          *1
YAV    AVH    Desire                                            *2
YGR    GOR    Fear                                              *2
YZN    ZON    Weapons                                           *2
YLCh   HLCh   Walk                                              *3
YChD   EChD   Unique/One                                        *3
YRA    RAH    SEE/REVERE                                        *3
YShN   ShNH   OLD/REPEAT                                        *3

*1 The RDQ explicitly says the two roots have the same meaning
*2 The RDQ translates each root the same way (but does not
   explicitly connect them
*3 The two roots do not have identical meanings but do have
   similar meanings. Thus something UNIQUE is ONE of a kind.
   Similarly to REVERE someone is to constantly see him/her
   before you in your mind (cause-effect). Similarly a person
   (or object) becomes WORN OUT by REPEATED USE.

        v2a32-13 Many possibilities why remembering the patriarchs
        is efficacious in prayer

        v1-32-5 Rashi uses a Gematriah even though his real point
        is the contrast of meaning between RESIDE and INN

        Rav Hirsch's commentary (v4-4-25 and v3-13-11)

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

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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
        The "1"         means           The 1st verse
        The "b"         means           The second rashi on that
                                        verse ("we rounded mount

Similarly v5-2-1 would mean Dt 2:1 and probably refer to all
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