The 10 RashiYomi Rules
Their presence in Rashis on Parshat Devarim
Vol 3#12
- Adapted from Rashi-is-Simple
Visit the RashiYomi website:
(c) RashiYomi Incorporated, Dr. Hendel President, Jul 28, 2006.
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.


BRIEF EXPLANATION: Rashi explains one verse by citing an other verse
This examples applies to Rashis Dt03-18b
URL Reference: (c)

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.

BRIEF EXPLANATION: Rashi uses 10 methods to explain the dictionary meaning of words
This examples applies to Rashis Dt01-13e
URL Reference: (c)

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.

BRIEF EXPLANATION:Rashi explains verses using principles of verb conjugation and grammar.
This examples applies to Rashis Dt02-33a, Dt01-13a
URL Reference: (c)

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.

Dt01-13a states Choose wise and understanding men, known among your tribes, and I will place them as judicial leaders (Judges) over you. In presenting this English translation we have stricken out the letter p in the word place. Without the letter p the word reads lace. Hence the Rashi comment When the community sins and the judicial leaders do not protest and try criminals God laces into them and holds them responsible. Here Rashi interpreted the pun implied by the stricken p to reflect a moral value that God holds the judges accountable for the sins of the community.

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 - place mirrors the actual Hebrew pun place - desolate.

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.

BRIEF EXPLANATION: Rashi examines minor differences in almost identical verses.
This examples applies to Rashis Dt02-09a
URL Reference: (c)

    Note the alignment of the underlined words in the following verses
  • Verse Dt09-09 discussing the approach of the Jews thru the land of Moab states And the Lord said to me,
    • Harass not the Moabites,
    • neither contend with them in battle;
    for I will not give you of their land for a possession; because I have given Ar to the sons of Lot for a possession.
  • while verse Dt09-19 discussing the approach of the Jews thru the land of Amon states And when you come near opposite the sons of Ammon,
    • harass them not,
    • nor contend with them;
    for I will not give you of the land of the sons of Ammon any possession; because I have given it to the sons of Lot for a possession.

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.

BRIEF EXPLANATION:Rashi resolves contradictory verses using 3 methods.
This examples applies to Rashis Dt01-08b
URL Reference: (c)

    Notice the contradiction indicated by the underlined phrases in the following verses, both speaking about the conquest of Israel by the Jews in the desert
  • Dt01-06:08b states The Lord our God spoke to us in Horeb, saying, ... Turn, and take your journey, and go ... to the land of the Canaanites, Behold, I have set the land before you; go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to your fathers..
  • But verse Dt01-19:23 states And when we departed from Horeb, ... And I said to you, You have come .. Behold, the Lord your God has set the land before you; go up and possess it, ... But you all came to me, and said, We will send spies and they shall spy ... And this pleased me well; and I took twelve men of you, one from each tribe;

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 resolves this contradiction using the 2 aspects method.
  • God wanted the Jews to simply go in and conquer Israel since that is what he promised the Patriarchs.
  • But Moses acquiesced to the people's desires to first spy the land out.

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.

Rashi examines inferences between general and detail statements.
This examples applies to Rashis Dt02-04a
URL Reference: (c)

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.

    Dt02-04a:05 is written in a general-detail style. And command the people, saying, You are to pass through the border of your brothers the sons of Esau, who live in Seir; and they shall be afraid of you;
  • General: take heed and watch yourselves
  • Detail: Contend not with them; for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a foot breadth; because I have given Mount Seir to Esau for a possession.

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.

BRIEF EXPLANATION:Inferences from Biblical formatting: --bold,italics--and paragraph structure.
This examples applies to Rashis Dt01-22c Dt01-22d
URL Reference: (c)

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.

    Verse Dt01-22c states And you came near me every one of you, and said, We will send men before us, and they shall spy the land, and bring us word
  • Of which road to go up on, and
  • Of which cities to come to [for conquest.]

    Here the repeating Biblical keyword, Aleph Tauv which we have translated of indicates a bullet effect. The bullets emphasize a group of two items to be searched out by the spies for the conquest. Rashi's task is to emphasize the distinctness of each of these items:
  • Which road to go up: To avoid ambushes in crooked roads
  • Which cities to come to: Which cities are easiest to conquer first.

In summary Rashi sees the bullets as emphasizing a group of concerns for spies: the identification of the good roads and easy cities.

BRIEF EXPLANATION:Rashi makes inferences from Database queries
This examples applies to Rashis Dt01-03a
URL Reference: (c)

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.

    First let us present the examples. The following people rebuked their followers on their deathbed.
  • Moses - Dt31-01:06: And Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel. And he said to them, I am one hundred and twenty years old this day; I can no more go out and come in; ... The Lord your God, He will go over before you, .... Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them; ...
  • King David - 1K02-01:02: And the days of David drew near that he should die; and he charged Solomon his son, saying, I go the way of all the earth; be you strong therefore, and show yourself a man;
  • Samuel- 1S12-01:07: And Samuel said to all Israel, ... I am old and grayheaded; and, behold, ... ... And Samuel said to the people, It is the Lord that advanced Moses and Aaron, and who brought your fathers out of the land of Egypt. And therefore stand still, that I may plead with you before the Lord concerning all the righteous acts of the Lord, which he did to you and to your fathers. ...
  • Joshua - Jo24-01:29: And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, ... And Joshua said to all the people, Thus said the Lord God of Israel,... God took your father Abraham ... ....And I have given you a land for which you did not labor, ..... Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve Him .... So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, .... .... So Joshua let the people depart, ... And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, ...

    We can suggest 4 reasons why rebuke before death is appropriate
  • The timing shows the seriousness of the rebuke
  • There is no risk that the person rebuked will rebel and run away(in anger) since the person rebuking them will soon die
  • Similarly there is no risk that the person rebuked will be embarassed since the person rebuking them will soon die
  • Similarly there is no risk that the rebuke will cause hatred because the person rebuking is about to die

BRIEF EXPLANATION: Inferences from a) computations, b) diagrams or c) consequences.
This examples applies to Rashis Dt01-25a
URL Reference: (c)

    Suppose the meaning of a verse is completely understood, that is,
  • the words and
  • grammar of the verse are clear and
  • other verses don't shed further light, but Rashi adds consequences or necessary assumptions to the verse.

    In such a case we say that Rashi is using the spreadsheet method.

    If the additional consequences indicated by Rashi can be
  • inferred from a spreadsheet of numbers then Rashi is using the algebraic methodof spreadsheets.
  • If the additional clarification is a diagram then Rashi is using the geometric method of spreadsheets.
  • If the consequence is verbal-logical (neither numeric nor geometric) then Rashi is using the consequence method of spreadsheets.

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.

    The six verses using language whose underlined words indicate that Israel is at the top and center are as follows:
  • Verse Dt01-25a states And they took of the fruit of the land in their hands, and brought it down to us, and brought us word again, and said, It is a good land which the Lord our God does give us.
  • Verse Gn45-09a states Hurry back to my father, and say to him, Thus said your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, delay not;
  • Verse Ex33-01a states And the Lord said to Moses, Depart, and go up, you and the people whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt, to the land which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, To your seed will I give it;
  • Verse Dt32-13b states He drove us on the high places of the earth, [ Israel ] so that we ate he ate the produce of the fields; and he made him suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock;
  • Verse Gn46-03:04 states And He said, I am God, the God of your father; fear not to go down to Egypt; for I will there make of you a great nation; I will go down with you to Egypt; and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph shall put his hand upon your eyes.
  • Verse Dt17-08f states If there arises a matter too hard for you in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between plague and plague, being matters of controversy inside your gates; then shall you arise, and go up to the place which the Lord your God shall choose; Note that in this verse going up refers to Jerusalem and the Temple. But again the idea is the same--the Jewish viewpoint as indicated by the Hebrew language sees the Temple, Jerusalem and Israel as sitting on top and at the center of the world.

BRIEF EXPLANATION: Rashi makes symbolic comments on verses and words.
This examples applies to Rashis Dt01-44a
URL Reference: (c)

    Military activity is often vigorously described using animal metaphors. Here we use the symbolism principle that items can symbolize their function. Examples are plentiful
  • Nu24-09 states He couched, he lay down as a lion, and as a great lion. Who shall stir him up? Blessed is he who blesses you, and cursed is he who curses you.
  • Jr05-06 states Therefore a lion from the forest shall slay them, and a wolf of the deserts shall destroy them, a leopard shall watch over their cities; every one who goes out there shall be torn in pieces; because their transgressions are many, and their apostasies are great.
  • Jr46-12 states Her sound is like that of a serpent on the move; for they shall march with force, and come against her with axes, like wood cutters.
  • Dt01-44a states And the Amorites, who lived in that mountain, came out against you, and chased you, as bees do, and destroyed you in Seir, even unto Hormah.

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 for further details and examples.