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

                        Volume 2 Number 5
                        Produced May. 07 1999

Topics Discussed in This Issue
v3-25-17 LIST of all verses saying FEAR GOD.They prevent subterfuge
v3z19-18 C Brown. LOVE THY NEIGHBOR is CLIMAX of 10 verses.
v3z26-14 Redone from last time with new insights from my students

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

VERSE: v3-25-17

       v3-25-17 And don't hurt any person his friend
       v3b25-14 And don't hurt any person his friend
       v3c19-14 Don't place a stumbling block before the blind
       v3b19-32 Show honor for the elderly
       v3b25-36 Don't take interest
       v3-25-42 Don't overwork (your slave)

       [Moderator: All these verses (except for v3b25-14) end
       "And fear your God I am God"-they are the only 5 verses
       in the Bible that have this phrase]


  Whereever it says AND FEAR YOUR GOD I AM GOD it refers to a
  commandment whose performance is not objective but dependent on
  intent. Therefore it says FEAR GOD to prevent you from sinning
  since God knows peoples thoughts.]

v3-25-42 You are not allowed to give a slave, work simply to keep
him busy but rather only on something you really need. As an
example you shouldn't tell a slave to go out and make some
coffee if you don't really need it. So this law depends on ones
intention (and hence says AND FEAR GOD)

v3b25-17 Obviously you are allowed to tell your friend constructive
criticism. However you shouldn't tell him something solely for the
purpose of teasing him. Again this law depends on intent.

v3c19-14 This verse prohibits someone from giving poor advice to
someone who is unaware (since it is like putting a stumbling block
before the blind). Clearly again this depends on ones intention
since whenever you give advise you can claim it was for your
friend's best interest.

v3b19-32 The verse DEMANDS respect for the elderly BUT only if they
are nearby. Similarly it demands RESPECT when there is no monetary
loss but you needn't respect the elderly if it means a loss. The
simplest example of how this depends on intention is if you turn
your face when you see him coming so that you won't know when he
is close enough to demand respect.

v3b25-36 The law prohibits taking interest from a Jew. But an
obvious subterfuge is to loan to a non-jew who will then loan to
a Jew.  Since it is permissable (according to some, obligatory) to
loan to a non jew with interest a person can always claim that he
wasn't doing it to get around the law. So this law also depends
on intention.

As {LIST1} shows these are the only 5 verses in the Bible that
have the phrase AND FEAR YOUR GOD I AM YOUR GOD. They all occur
in commandments whose violation is dependent on your intent.

So Rashi is Simple.It says FEAR GOD who knows the hidden secrets of
ones heart to prevent people from sinning and saying I intended to
do good.

Notice how 3-25-17 and 3-25-14 are two verses that say the same
thing---don't hurt your friend. 3-25-17 has the phrase AND FEAR
GOD, so we interpret it to mean Don't hurt someones feelings. On
the other hand 3-25-14 occurs in a commercial context and is taken
to mean don't hurt your friend monetarily (don't overcharge more
than a sixth).

In general whenever anything is repeated (e.g. a noun repeated twice
or in this case an identical phrase) we take each noun to refer to
a different case.

However in the verses before us Rashi is Simple.
3-25-14 is talking about commerce so the verse
refers to "hurting ones friend monetarily"
By contrast 3-25-17 has the phrase AND FEAR GOD and refers to
verbal hurting.

  Rashi is crystal clear. We have nothing to add

  In v3b25-36 Rashi gives two explanations.

EXPLANATION 1: "Since it is hard to loan without interest the
Bible said FEAR GOD to encourage people not to violate this

EXPLANATION 2: It says FEAR GOD whenever some trick could cover
up your intention. For example, loaning to non jews in order that
they should loan for you to Jews.

Let me make 3 simple observations.

OBSERVATION 1: Certainly the PSHAT or TRUE meaning is according to
explanation 2. Indeed, we have seen that IN ALL VERSES where it says
AND FEAR GOD it refers to FEARING GOD to prevent subterfuges.

OBSERVATION 2:Certainly if 3-25-36 was the only Torah verse
where it said FEAR GOD then e.g. if I asked a class of students to
explain why this verse had FEAR GOD but no other verse had FEAR GOD
several students would suggest "Maybe it says FEAR GOD because it is
a big temptation to loan and not get interest for your money...
therefore it says FEAR GOD to help overcome this temptation."

In other words, if we had only one verse with FEAR GOD then we would
probably prefer EXPLANATION 1.

OBSERVATION 3: The above two observations give new insight to PSHAT
and DERASH. EXPLANATION 1 above is PSHAT if this was the ONLY verse
which said FEAR GOD---it would then be legitimate to say the Torah
was fighting my temptation to loan on interest.

DRASH in this case would refer to the TRUE meaning which we
ascertain by reviewing ALL VERSES with the phrase in question.

The TRUE meaning is the DRASH because it is a consistent usage
throughout TNACH.  PSHAT here does not mean a SIMPLE meaning but

We see here Rashi's brilliance. How many teachers faced with the
five verses would "get it over with" and simply tell the students
why these five say FEAR GOD. But not so for Rashi. Rashi wanted to
encourage learning. So he deliberately placed the INITIAL ATTEMPT
to understand the phrase FEAR GOD in v3b25-36. By doing so he
shows the student the legitimacy of making initial guesses. Only
AFTER reviewing all the cases would the student see the real

Thus Rashi listed the two reasons to encourage students to learn

LISTS {For ADVANCED students and for those with more time}:
  {LIST1} {All verses where it says FEAR GOD I AM GOD
          All 5 verses have subterfuges by which you could avoid
          the commandment. Therefore the verse says FEAR GOD
          to prevent people from using these subterfuges since
          God knows the thoughts of people}

=====    =====================  ===================================
v3-25-17 Don't hurt feelings    I was trying to help him
v3c19-14 Don't give bad advise  I was trying to help him
v3b19-32 Honor the elderly      I didn't see you
v3b25-36 Don't take interest    Loan to a non-jew(who loans to Jews
v3-25-42 Don't overwork slaves  I really needed him to do this work



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

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VERSE:  v3z19-18

        v3z19-18 ..love thy friend like thyself

RASHI TEXT:  v3z19-18

  Rabbi Akiva pointed out that this verse is a fundamental principle
  in the Torah.


  What is Rashi saying here? What is he adding? Or more precisely
What is Rabbi Akivah saying? What do we now know that we didn't
know before? Even if understanding Rashi does not require
the problem still, presumably he is adding something to our
knowledge that we didn't know before.

What Rashi is adding can best be understood using the principle of
climax: This principle states that 4 or more phrases saying
something similar should be viewed as building up to a climax.

If we look at the 10 verses 3-19-9:18 we see two dozen phrases all
dealing with social justice. Rashi Is Simple. He is simply applying
the principle of climax to the 2 dozen phrases. The last phrase is
LOVE THY FRIEND LIKE THYSELF and refers to the climax of all social
laws. Hence Rashis statements: LOVE THY FRIEND is an important
principle (ie. climax) in the Torah. Indeed, when we examine these
2 dozen phrases we shall see why Hillel translated this positive
phrase LOVE THY NEIGHBOR into a double negative:
        >>don't do to others
        >>what you would not have them do to yourself.

To best understand this on a first reading it is best not to go into
complete detail since to use a popular analogy if you focus on all
the leaves you cannot see the tree. On a second reading one can
delve more deeply into subtleties. Accordingly we can understand
these 10 verses and two dozen phrases as evolving in 3 groups.

3-19-9:10 deal with obligations toward the collective group of
poor people. The sharing between different economic strata in
society ensures equilibrium. We are asked to leave various
fallen items gathered during harvest in the field for the poor.

The remaining verses deal with interpersonal situations.

3-19-11:15 deal with crimes you can be prosecuted for, such
as stealing (3-19-11:12), witholding wages (3-19-13) or
tripping blind people (3-19-14..the blind person can't see you
but can try you if other people see you tripping him).

The remaining verses deal with crimes you can't be prosecuted for
(because they don't involve money per se but rather information)

3-19-15:16 deal with not gossiping, or not giving proper arguments
of defense and prosecution or not advising people of jeopardy to
their life---in all cases, we have crimes, but unlike theft and
witholding wages, you cannot be prosecuted for them.

While 3-19-15:16 deal with crimes you SHOULD NOT DO. 3-19-17:19 deal
with things that SHOULD BE DONE.

For example DON'T HATE IN YOUR HEART means that you should rebuke
somebody privately when they have hurt you.

Similarly DON'T BE VENGEFUL means that you should e.g. LOAN to
somebody even though he refused to LOAN to you.

These verses 3-19-17:19 climax themselves with LOVE THY FRIEND LIKE

We can now summarize the above analysis as follows:

You should love your friend as yourself EVEN if
--the act only involves you and your friend (and not the community)
--and EVEN if lack of the act is not prosecutable(no money involved)
--and EVEN if you can defend lack of the act by APATHY ("I am just
sitting here and doing nothing").

So e.g. you should visit your friend when he is sick even though
he hasn't visited you and even though he can't sue you for lack
of a visit and even though it is a DO vs a DON'T (and hence e.g
you can claim apathy).

So Rashi Is Simple. LOVE THY FRIEND is an all encompassing principle
We can now understand why Hillel said what is hateful to your friend
don't do to others.

As always the best way to get insights into these Rashis based on
climax is to try and see the development of the list oneself and
then compare your results to Rashi.

The above analysis is compactly summarized in tabular form in

Rashi cites Rabbi Akiva. This comes from a Sifrah which cites a
what appears to be a controversy of Rabbi Akiva and Ben Azai.

But as we just saw Rabbi Akivas statement that LOVE THY FRIEND
is an important principle comes quite simply from the fact that
it is a climax of 10 verses. And it being a climax of 10 verses
is not something that Ben Azai can disagree with!!!!

The Sifrah cites ben Azai as stating that 1-5-1
        >>"This is the book of Adam's progeny on
        >>the day that God created Adam..."
is an important principle in the Torah.

Ben Azai learns this from the introductory words
        >>"This is the book..
a phrase which does NOT introduce anything else in the Torah!!

But then Rabbi Akiva can't disagree with Ben Azai since he must
acknowledge that the introductory phrase "..This is the book"
means that it is IMPORTANT.

Since Rabbi Akiva cannot disagree with Ben Azai and since Ben
Azai cannot disagree with Rabbi Akiva we come to the conclusion
that the Sifrah is NOT citing a CONTROVERSY but rather it is
citing a LIST of STRATEGMS by which the Torah informs us of
importance.  The Torah can indicate importance by
placing a phrase at the CLIMAX of a long list (like LOVE THY
FRIEND at the end of all social commandments) or it can do so
by using an introductory phrase (like THIS IS THE BOOK).

Notice how our analysis of the reasons for Rabbi Akivas statement
has led us to a deeper appreciation of it and a correct perspective
on the Sifrah.

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

{LIST1} {Perceiving 3-19-9:18 as a list based on climax}

======     =======        =========  ============    =======
3-19-9:10  Gifts to Poor  Yes        --              ---
3-19-11:14 No theft *1    Individual Yes             ---
3-19-15:16 Info crimes *2 Individual No              Don't
3-19-17:18 Info Crimes    Individual No              DOs *3

*1 No theft includes a variety of monetary crimes and torts such as
witholding wages or tripping a blind person. When I say it is
individual vs "communal" I simply mean that the recipient of the
theft is an individual wheras by charity the recipient is the whole
community of poor people (3-19-9:10 MUST be left for the general

*2 The term "info crimes" may be misleading. It includes crimes
of the heart. Examples are not judging someone favorably, showing
favoritism etc. They are not prosecutable because no money is
directly involved

*3 The word DOs here means there is SOME DO associated with the
don'ts. For example: Don't hate in your heart means you should
do something...namely rebuke your friend. Similarly Don't be
vengeful means you should e.g. loan him EVEN though he didn't
loan you.

Finally LOVE THY FRIEND is obviously a DO.


  To Chaiim Brown for raising this most interesting question.

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

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VERSE: v3z26-14

       v3a26-14 But if you don't (EVEN) LISTEN to me
       v3b26-14 & don't PRACTICE all these commandments
       v3a26-15 & if MY statues are DESPISED
       v3b26-16 & if MY COURT DECISIONS are loathesome to you
       v3c26-16 TILL    you DON'T PARTICIPATE in doing
       v3d26-16      MY commandments
       v3e26-16 TILL    you annul my convenant

[Moderator: This verse was done last time. But my students in my
Lower Merion Synagogue Rashi Course gave some excellent examples
and critiques. Hence I am redoing it]


* The Torah uses the principle of CLIMAX
The seven phrases show a development of evil.

The CAPPED words above have the following nuances:

1) Don't LISTEN                 =   Don't study
2) don't PRACTICE               =   Don't obey
3) DESPISE                      =   Ridicule others
4) COURT DECISIONS loathesome   =   Ridicule COURT DECISIONS/Judges
5) DON"T PARTICPATE IN DOING    =   DON'T participate in
                                    communal performances
6) MY commandments              =   You deny they come from God
7) TILL you annul my convenant  =   Total blasphemy

[Moderator:A good translation following Rashi would be as follows

--If you don't LISTEN to me {e.g. not going to shiurs}
--& don't DO the commandments {could be just by yourself}
--& if MY STATUES you despise {showing hostility}
--& if My JUDGEMENTS/DECISIONS you loathe {e.g. rediculing judges}
--UNTIL you aren't in the DOING of commandments{eg community events
--UNTIL the annuling of my convenant {total blasphemy}

The full understanding of this we will see below]


Rashi Is Simple but subtle. The two verses with the 7 Rashis
have ONLY ONE GUIDING PRINICPLE: Namely the principle of

This principle states as follows: A group of 4 or more phrases
that all basically mean the same thing MUST be translated using
principles of increasing climax.

Furthermore this principle of CLIMAX is sufficient to justify most
nuances (In other words you do NOT have to justify the nuances from
grammar and phraseology; rather it is sufficient to use the
principle of CLIMAX. However the principle of CLIMAX is very often
aided by SUBTLETIES that occur in the verses. This will be
illustrated below)

While the principle of CLIMAX is simple its application is subtle.
We must carefully distinguish between what is PSHAT and what is

How so? If 5 people examine the above 2 verses they might come
up with 4-6 translations. This obscures the fact that they ALL
agree that the verses are guided by the principle of CLIMAX
What they disagree on is HOW this principle should be implemented.

Furthermore most groups of people usually
agree on MOST of the nuances--they for example can agree on the
starting phrase and on the terminal (climax) phrase. There might
however be some disagreement of interior middle phrases.

My own custom when I teach such things is
to have each student develop their OWN list of development
and then have the class share their ideas. Students are surprised
how much they agree and are also surprised on what  they

This principle of Climax permeates Tnach. {LIST1} gives
some examples from Psalms showing the power of such translations.

Having said the above generalities let us proceed and interpret
the particular phrases that occur in these two verses. In doing
so we are aided by the following 5 subtleties (The 5th one was
introduced by one of my students)

--Subtlety #1: 3-26-14 uses 2 verbs LISTEN vs DO my commandments

--Subtlety #2: 3-26-14 uses a VERB-OBJECT order(Do--my commandments)
               while 3-26-15 uses an OBJECT-VERB order
  (My statues-you despise)

--Subtlety #3: 3-26-14 speaks about "THE commandments" while
            3-26-15 speaks (3 times) about "MY commandments"

--Subtlety #4: The introduction to the first 3-4 rebellions is
           with the word IF (..and IF you don't do my commandments)
  while the introduction to the last 2 rebellions is with
  the word UNTIL (UNTIL..you annul my convenant)

--Subtlety #5: The first two, middle two and final two verbs all
             have distinct characteristics.
  The first two verbs are ACTION verbs (LISTEN DO)
  The next two verbs are EMOTIONAL verbs(DESPISE,LOATHE)
  The last two verbs are INFINITIVES (DOING of my commanemnts

I refer to the above as SUBTLETIES vs RULES since I am NOT
justifying them with long lists from the Bible.  For example I am
not giving a list of verses when IF is used versus
when UNTIL is used. Rather I note similarities and contradictions
WITHIN the actual two sentences--for example,"IF" is used the first
3 times and "UNTIL is used the last 2 times. This is obviously

We now explain the CONSEQUENCES of each of the above subtleties and
then recap with a translation focused on increasing climax. Again
the fundamental issue is how the phrases climax & not the subtleties
themselves. I would call the subtleties SUPPORTIVE but not PROOFS.

--Subtlety #1: Obviously LISTEN=Learning; DO = Practice.

--Subtlety #2: "If you don't do commandments"or"if you don't listen
            has a focus on APATHY--not doing. By contrast "If my
        STATUES you despise" and "If my judgements you loathe" has a
    connotation of SPITE--it is not just that you are not doing them
   but rather that you are focusing on the vulnerability of specific
        commandment classes. This nuance of SPITE is also seen in
        subtlety #3.

--Subtlety #3:Obviously a person who doesn't do "MY commandments" is
           being more spiteful than a peson who simply doesn't do
        "THE commandments"--for he is attacking the Giver of the

Together Subtleties #2 and #3 indicate that the first two phrases
just speak about APATHY--you don't go to Shiurs, you don't do
Mitzvoth. The next two phrases emphasize SPITE and HOSTILITY

--Subtlety #4: Obviously "IF" denotes a beginning condition
           while "UNTIL" denotes a CONSEQUENCE. To fully
        understand this we use Subtlety #5.

--Subtlety #5: The first two phrases use ACTION verbs and denote
           APATHY. The next two phrases use EMOTION verbs and
 denote HOSTILITY. The last two phrases use INFINITIVES and denote
 lack of participation with ONGOING ACTIVITIES. Thus there is a

These consequences of these 5 subtleties are neatly summarized
in tabular format in {LIST2} and {LIST3}.

We may now recap and summarize the translation with all its nuances

--If you don't LISTEN to me {e.g. not going to shiurs}
--& don't DO the commandments {could be just by yourself}
--& if MY STATUES you despise {showing hostility}
--& if My JUDGEMENTS/DECISIONS you loathe {e.g. rediculing judges}
--UNTIL you aren't in the DOING of commandments{eg community events
--UNTIL the annuling of my convenant {total blasphemy}

Notice how we have interpolated most of Rashi's comments as "e.g."s
obviously refer to rediculing judges. Rashi however says "rediculing
sages".  Quite obviously it is best to regard Rashi's statement
as a "good example" rather than as something literal.  Similarly
preventing others from doing which we have translated as "e.g.
community events"--our intention being to capture BOTH the nuances
of the verse (DOING) as well as the nuances of Rashi (OTHERS).
The important point here is to have a global picture. Rashi was
trying to create a sense of climax using as a vehicle the subtleties
in the verses.


Notice how we have interpolated most of Rashi's comments as "e.g."s
obviously refer to rediculing judges. Rashi however says "rediculing
sages".  Quite obviously it is best to regard Rashi's statement
as a "good example" rather than as something literal.  Similarly
preventing others from doing which we have translated as "e.g.
community events"--out intention being to capture BOTH the nuances
of the verse (DOING) as well as the nuances of Rashi (OTHERS).
The important point here is to have a global picture. Rashi was
trying to create a sense of climax using as a vehicle the subtleties
in the verses.

This use of "e.g."S is a typical approach for CLIMAXES.

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

{LIST1} {Some examples of climax from the Psalms}

PS 1:
Prosperous is the person who
did not WALK in the counsel of the wicked
did not STAND in the path of the sinner
did not SIT in the sitins of the mockers
But his DESIRE is in Gods law
and his MURMURINGS are in God's laws.

PS 2:
Why are the Goyim TUMULTUOUS
why do the nations SPIT MURMURS
The leaders         STAND
The superpowers     COALITION
Let us break his REIGNS (King Mesiah's cords)
and throw away his CORDS

PS 6:
Don't REBUKE me
      PITY me
      HEAL me
      SAVE ME

{LIST2} {3 subtleties in verses}

                        Verb-Object*1   THESE *2        IF   *3
                        vs              vs              vs
PHRASE                  Object-Verb     MY              Till
======                  ========        ========        =======
Dont listen             Verb Object*2                   If    *3
Dont do                 Verb Object*2   These  *2       If    *3
Despise statues         Object Verb*2   My     *2       If    *3
Redicule judgements     Object Verb*2   My     *2       If    *3
Don't do                                                Till  *3
my commandments                         My     *2
Annul convenant                         My     *2       Till  *3


*1 Listen to me
  Don't do  these commandments


  In my statues you show despisement
  In my judgements you loathe

*2 Don't do THESE commandments
  MY statues despise
  MY judgements loathe
  MY convenant

*3 if you don't listen
  if you don't do
  if you despise...

  till you don't do...
  till you ...

{LIST3}  {Attributes by which CLIMAX principle is achieved}

                        ACTION vs       PERSONAL        TOWARDS LAW
                        EMOTIONAL       ATTACK          vs
                        vs              vs
PHRASE                  COMMUNAL        APATHY          TOWARDS GOD
======                  ========        ========        ===========
Dont listen             Activity        APATHY          Against law
Dont do                 Activity        APATHY          Against law
Despise statues         Emotional       ATTACK OTHERS   Against God
Redicule judgements     Emotional       ATTACK OTHERS   Against God
Not doing               Communal        ATTACK OTHERS   Against God
my commandments         Communal        ATTACK OTHERS   Against God
Annul convenant         Communal        ATTACK OTHERS   Against God


  Again my humble acknowledgement to my students in my Rashi
class for pointing out the various improvements.

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
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