Their presence in Rashis on Parshat Devarim Vol 3#12 - Adapted from Rashi-is-Simple
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English translations of the Bible come from www.Davka.Com with minor emendations by me.
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.
1. RASHI METHOD: OTHER VERSES
BRIEF EXPLANATION: Rashi explains one verse by citing an other verse
This examples applies to Rashis Dt03-18b
URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/dt03-18b.htm
Dt03-16:18b states And to the Reubenites and to the Gadites I gave .... And I commanded you at that time, saying, .... you shall pass over armed before your brothers the people of Israel, all who are fit for the war. Rashi explains the underlined bolded phrase before your brothers by citing an other verse, Dt33-20 which states And of Gad he said, Blessed be he who enlarges Gad; he lives as a lion, and tears the arm with the crown of the head.
Hence the Rashi comment: Why did Moses order Gad to go armed before your brothers? Because he was a strong warrior like a lion.
2. RASHI METHOD: WORD MEANING
BRIEF EXPLANATION: Rashi uses 10 methods to explain the dictionary meaning of words
This examples applies to Rashis Dt01-13e
URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/dt01-13e.htm
One of Rashi's 10 major methods is the word meaning method. One word meaning sub-method is the synonym sub-method. When Rashi explains Synonyms he does not give the meaning of an unknown word. Rather he gives the nuances that distinguish a word with a known meaning from other words with the same meaning.
In Dt01-13 Moses recalls his request for local leaders and judges: Choose wise and understanding men, familiar among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you. Rashi's contribution to this verse is to interpret the Hebrew word Yud Dalet Ayin as familiar. This word however is usually interpreted as known.
Here known and familiar are two words with almost similar meanings. However they have different nuances. The Rashi comment on this verse is consistent with the translation familiar: Take judges who are familiar with you. Why? So if a person comes dressed in a distinguished suit and looks religious then a judge who doesn't know him personally might judge him by his appearance while a judge who is familiar with his constituency would not be fooled by him.
3. RASHI METHOD: GRAMMAR
BRIEF EXPLANATION:Rashi explains verses using principles of verb conjugation and grammar.
This examples applies to Rashis Dt02-33a, Dt01-13a
URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/dt01-13a.htm
One of Rashi's 10 major goals is the explanation of grammatical rules similar to the rules we find in modern Grammar books. Grammatical rules typically deal either with root conjugation, sentence structure, or miscellaneous grammatical items. The miscellaneous grammatical items covers such diverse topics as gender agreement, apposition, plurality, poetic devices and many more items.
Poetic literary devices occur in all languages. One poetic device is punning. A pun is a deliberate distortion of a word in order to suggest by nuance and innuendo subtle points. Some puns are clearly intended by the author while other puns are superficial and read into the text by the reader. Clearly however if an author deliberately misspells a word to communicate a well known thought we can consider it intentional and intrinsic to the text. My views on puns with many examples are clearly presented in my article Biblical Puns to appear in the Jewish Bible Quarterly at the end of this year or early next year.
Choose wise and understanding men,
known among your tribes,
and I will
The Bible of course is written in Hebrew,not in English.
The Hebrew word for place is
Aleph Sin Yud Mem Mem. If we deliberately misspell it
and leave out the letter yud we obtain
Aleph sin mem mem which means to desolate. In other
words our English pun, place -
Other spelling puns are present in this Parshah. For example verse Dt02-33 states And the Lord our God delivered him before us; and we struck him, and his sons, and all his people Here we have underlined the singular son in the Biblical word sons. This mirrors the Hebrew pun which omits the Hebrew letter Yud indicating plurality in the word Beth Nun Yud Vav. The misspelled word consequently reads as if it says Beth Nun Vav which would be translated in the singular as his son.
This pun son - sons motivates the Rashi comment: The pun teaches us that when they conquered his sons they also conquered the son whom he was training to replace him. In other words the conquest was total.
4. RASHI METHOD: ALIGNMENT
BRIEF EXPLANATION: Rashi examines minor differences in almost identical verses.
This examples applies to Rashis Dt02-09a
URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/dt02-09a.htm
Both verses prohibit harassment and contention but the Moab verse emphasizes contention in battle while the Amon verse simply prohibits contention. Rashi comments Recall that the nations of Moab and Amon came from the two grandsons of Lot which were both born thru an incestuous relationship with his two daughters who made him drunk and seduced him. The verses indicate that Moab's mother was very open about her incest--perhaps getting even with her father for offering his daughters to a sex-hungry mob in Sedom-- while the verse describes Amon's mother as interested in obtaining children thru incest but not in disgracing her father. Hence the verses only prohibit military contention with Moab but prohibit any contention with Amon.
Much more could be said here. For example Rashi's citation of the two daughter's intention is not at all clear in the verses describing the incest. We shall return to this issue in our Rashi digest on that Parshah when it occurs.
One further point. Rashi only speaks about the lack of modesty in the Moab's mother. The idea, added above, that this lack of modesty emanated from a desire to get even with her father for offering her to a sex-hungry mob in Sedom was suggested by Rabbi Landau of the Ner Tamid synagogue of Baltimore in one of his weekly parshah discussion classes.
5. RASHI METHOD: CONTRADICTION
BRIEF EXPLANATION:Rashi resolves contradictory verses using 3 methods.
This examples applies to Rashis Dt01-08b
URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/dt01-08b.htm
We see the contradiction between these two verses indicated by the underlined words: Which is it? Were the Jews suppose to simply conquer Israel or were they suppose to first send spies and then conquer it? Perhaps God's promise of conquest included a prerequisite of preliminary spying.
Rashi in fact derives these two aspects---what God vs. what Moses wanted --- from the underlined phrase And this pleased me [Moses] well; and I took twelve men of you, one from each tribe;
This Rashi is also consistent with another Rashi on Nu13-01:02 which is translated God said to Moses as follows: Send, for yourself spies to scout the land.... Rashi infers from the underlined words for yourself that this statement of God was not a command but an acquiescence should Moses want it.
6. RASHI METHOD: STYLE
Rashi examines inferences between general and detail statements.
This examples applies to Rashis Dt02-04a
URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/dt02-04a.htm
The Rabbi Ishmael Style rules indicate how verses should be treated, whether literally and restrictively or generally and broadly as paradigms. The General-Detail style indicates a restrictive literal interpretation--the general clause is restricted to the specific requirements of the detail clause.
Rashi comments by adding the word by linking the General-detail clauses and giving them specificity. Take heed and watch yourselves by not contending with them.
Here is another way of understanding this Rashi. The statement take heed and watch yourself is very broad and general. It could refer to not insulting them. It could even refer to not entering commerce with them. However the general-detail combination, take heed by not contending with them...I will not give you of their land makes it clear that the only prohibition is military contention---the Jews were prohibited from military conflict with the Moabites. However other forms of contention are not prohibited.
In fact Rashi elsewhere notes that the phrase ...and they shall be afraid of you... indicates that it was permissable for the Jews to go thru Seir armed, even though they could not enter into war and even though they would cause anxiety to the Moabites when they saw an armed nation going through their land.
7. RASHI METHOD: FORMATTING
BRIEF EXPLANATION:Inferences from Biblical formatting: --bold,italics--and paragraph structure.
This examples applies to Rashis Dt01-22c Dt01-22d
URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/dt01-22c.htm
When a modern author wishes to indicate contrastive emphasis they use bullets. A list of bulleted items conveys to the reader that there are a group of possibilities each one with its own distinctness. The Biblical authors did not have available bullets. Instead a Biblical author who wished to indicate a bullet effect would instead use repeating connective keywords. Here is another way to look at this: A proper translation of a Biblical verse with repeating connective keywords would be a translation with a bullet formatting. The example below illustrates this.
In summary Rashi sees the bullets as emphasizing a group of concerns for spies: the identification of the good roads and easy cities.
8. RASHI METHOD: DATABASES
BRIEF EXPLANATION:Rashi makes inferences from Database queries
This examples applies to Rashis Dt01-03a
URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/dt01-03a.htm
Today we study the following database query: Is there an ideal time for rebuke?
This database query uncovers a series of verses, 4 of which we present below, which show that it is best to rebuke people before one dies.
9. RASHI METHOD: SPREADSHEETS
BRIEF EXPLANATION: Inferences from a) computations, b) diagrams or c) consequences.
This examples applies to Rashis Dt01-25a
URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/dt01-25a.htm
In numerous verses journey to Israel is termed going up while journey away from Israel is termed going down. We present six such verses below (Rashi makes an almost identical comment on 5 of these 6 verses). These verses simply indicate a Hebrew idiomatic usage. However Rashi infers an additional geometric consequence from this usage The Hebrew language geographically perceives Israel as being at the center and top.
Rashi could have further justified this geographic inference using the other verse method. Verse Ez38-12 describes a nation intending to attack Israel as intending To take booty, and to plunder; to turn your hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people who are gathered from the nations, who have acquired cattle and goods, who dwell on the belly of the land. The underlined description belly is consistent with Rashi's inference that Israel is geographically situated at the center and top.
10. RASHI METHOD: SYMBOLISM
BRIEF EXPLANATION: Rashi makes symbolic comments on verses and words.
This examples applies to Rashis Dt01-44a
URL Reference: (c) http://www.Rashiyomi.com/dt01-44a.htm
The interpreter's task is to identify the unique military characteristics of each animal. Rashi commenting on the last verse Dt01-44a states The military characteristic of the bee is the swiftness of conquest without exertion of power. That is a bee kills thru an instantaneous sting with venom, not by the type of power and interactive fight shown by a lion.
This week's parshah contains examples of all methods. This concludes this weeks edition. Visit the RashiYomi website at http://www.Rashiyomi.com for further details and examples.