The 10 RashiYomi Rules
Their presence in Rashis on Parshath ChaYaY SaRaH
Volume 15, Number 9
This weeks Weekly Rashi with Hebrew/English source tables
Is accessible at
(c) RashiYomi Incorporated, Dr. Hendel, President, October 28 th, 2010
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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. Although I frequently use my own English translations of biblical verses and Rashi comments, the Hebrew and English translations in the source tables are derived from online parshah files at who in turn acknowledges the Judaica Press Complete Tanach, copyright by Judaica Press.


    BRIEF EXPLANATION: Commentary on a verse is provided thru a cross-reference to another verse. The cross references can either provide
    • (1a) further details,
    • (1b) confirm citations, or
    • (1c) clarify word meaning.
    This examples applies to Rashis Gn24-07e
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: THE GOD WHO SWORE TO GIVE ME THIS LAND (Gn24-07) references The CONVENANT OF CUTS where God so SWORE (Gn15-18)

Verse Gn24-07e
Hebrew Verse יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֱלֹהֵי הַשָּׁמַיִם אֲשֶׁר לְקָחַנִי מִבֵּית אָבִי וּמֵאֶרֶץ מוֹלַדְתִּי וַאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר לִי וַאֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּע לִי לֵאמֹר לְזַרְעֲךָ אֶתֵּן אֶת הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת הוּא יִשְׁלַח מַלְאָכוֹ לְפָנֶיךָ וְלָקַחְתָּ אִשָּׁה לִבְנִי מִשָּׁם:
English Verse The Lord, God of the heavens, Who took me from my father's house and from the land of my birth, and Who spoke about me, and Who swore to me, saying, 'To your seed will I give this land' He will send His angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there.
Rashi Header Hebrew ואשר נשבע לי
Rashi Text Hebrew בין הבתרים:
Rashi Header Enlish and Who swore to me
Rashi Text English At the Covenant Between the Parts.

Verse Gn24-06:07 discussing Abraham requesting from his servant to obtain for his son a wife that is proper and consistent with God's promise to Abraham to give to him Israel, states And Abraham said unto him: 'Beware thou that thou bring not my son back thither. The LORD, the God of heaven, who took me from my father's house, and from the land of my nativity, and who spoke unto me, and who swore unto me, saying: Unto thy seed will I give this land; He will send His angel before thee, Rashi notes: The underlined word, swore..., references verse Gn15-18 discussing the Convenant of Cuts where God promised Abraham Israel.

Text of Target Verse Gn24-07:08 Text of Reference Verse Gn15-18
And Abraham said unto him: 'Beware thou that thou bring not my son back thither. The LORD, the God of heaven, who took me from my father's house, and from the land of my nativity, and who spoke unto me, and who swore unto me, saying: In that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: 'Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates
Rashi comments: The statement in Gn24-07:08, God swore to give me this land references verse Gn15-18 where God swore to give Abraham this land.

      BRIEF EXPLANATION: The meaning of words can be explained either by
      • (2a) translating an idiom, a group of words whose collective meaning transcends the meaning of its individual component words,
      • (2b) explaining the nuances and commonality of synonyms-homographs,
      • (2c) describing the usages of connective words like also,because,if-then, when,
      • (2d) indicating how grammatical conjugation can change word meaning
      • (2e) changing word meaning using the figures of speech common to all languages such as irony and oxymorons.
      This examples applies to Rashis Gn25-13a
      URL Reference: (c)

Verse Gn25-13a
Hebrew Verse וְאֵלֶּה שְׁמוֹת בְּנֵי יִשְׁמָעֵאל בִּשְׁמֹתָם לְתוֹלְדֹתָם בְּכֹר יִשְׁמָעֵאל נְבָיֹת וְקֵדָר וְאַדְבְּאֵל וּמִבְשָׂם:
English Verse And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael by their names, according to their births: the firstborn of Ishmael was Nebaioth, and Kedar and Adbe'el and Mibsam,
Rashi Header Hebrew בשמותם לתולדותם
Rashi Text Hebrew סדר לידתן זה אחר זה:  
Rashi Header Enlish by their names, according to their births
Rashi Text English in the order of their birth, one after the other.

An idiom is a collection of words which means more than the sum of the meanings of each of the phrases' individual words. Verse Gn25-13a discussing the descendants of Ishmael states And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations: the first-born of Ishmael, Nebaioth; and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam, Rashi explains: The phrase(s) by their names, according to their generations: is an idiom meaning listed in genealogical order Translating the verse with this Rashi translation yields And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, listed in genealogical order the first-born of Ishmael, Nebaioth; and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam,

Advanced Rashi: Rashi can be understood in a deeper manner if we recall that sometimes descendants are stated in non-genealogical orders. For examples Noach's sons are listed as Shaym, Cham, and Yefeth (Gn05-32) even though Yefeth was the oldest (Gn10-21). The changed order reflects Shaym's superior spiritual importance since Abraham decesnded from him.

      BRIEF EXPLANATION: Rashi explains verses using grammar principles, that is, rules which relate reproducable word form to word meaning. Grammatical rules neatly fall into 3 categories
      • (a) the rules governing conjugation of individual words,Biblical roots,
      • (b) the rules governing collections of words,clauses, sentences
      • (c) miscellaneous grammatical, or form-meaning, rules.
      This examples applies to Rashis Gn24-67a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: And he brought her to the tent - Mother Sarah.

Verse Gn24-67a
Hebrew Verse וַיְבִאֶהָ יִצְחָק הָאֹהֱלָה שָׂרָה אִמּוֹ וַיִּקַּח אֶת רִבְקָה וַתְּהִי לוֹ לְאִשָּׁה וַיֶּאֱהָבֶהָ וַיִּנָּחֵם יִצְחָק אַחֲרֵי אִמּוֹ:
English Verse And Isaac brought her to the tent of Sarah his mother, and he took Rebecca, and she became his wife, and he loved her. And Isaac was comforted for [the loss of] his mother.
Rashi Header Hebrew האהלה שרה אמו
Rashi Text Hebrew ויביאה האהלה ונעשית דוגמת שרה אמו, כלומר והרי היא שרה אמו, שכל זמן ששרה קיימת היה נר דלוק מערב שבת לערב שבת, וברכה מצויה בעיסה, וענן קשור על האהל, ומשמתה פסקו, וכשבאת רבקה חזרו:
Rashi Header Enlish to the tent of Sarah his mother
Rashi Text English He brought her to the tent, and behold, she was Sarah his mother; i.e., she became the likeness of Sarah his mother, for as long as Sarah was alive, a candle burned from one Sabbath eve to the next, a blessing was found in the dough, and a cloud was attached to the tent. When she died, these things ceased, and when Rebecca arrived, they resumed (Gen. Rabbah 60:16).

Today Hebrew grammar is well understood and there are many books on it. Rashi, however, lived before the age of grammar books. A major Rashi method is therefore the teaching of basic grammar.

Many students belittle this aspect of Rashi. They erroneously think that because of modern methods we know more. However Rashi will frequently focus on rare grammatical points not covered in conventional textbooks.

    There are many classical aspects to grammar whether in Hebrew or other languages. They include
  • The rules for conjugating verbs. These rules govern how you differentiate person, plurality, tense, mode, gender, mood, and designation of the objects and indirect objects of the verb. For example how do you conjugate, in any language, I sang, we will sing, we wish to sing, she sang it.
  • Rules of agreement. For example agreement of subject and verb, of noun and adjective; whether agreement in gender or plurality.
  • Rules of Pronoun reference.
  • Rules of word sequence. This is a beautiful topic which is not always covered in classical grammatical textbooks.

Today we illustrate a powerful but little understood rule common to all languages - apposition. Very roughly apposition consists of breaking up a phrase mid-sentence. Instead of stating the whole phrase you instead break it up - tersely stating the main idea and then later on in the sentence filling in details. Such a technique, although sounding strange, has a very powerful effect on the reader who is forced to focus and concentrate more fully.

A classical example is Is63-07, I will recount the kindness of God, the things we praise him on. The author in beautiful poetic style converts this verse with apposition. The actual reading is as follows: The kindness of God I will recount, the things we praise God on. By breaking the phrase kindness of God, the things we praise him on into two phrases placed at different points of the verse the author achieves powerful poetic effect forcing the reader and listener to focus with more attention.

Verse Gn24-67a wishes to state Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah but instead through the use of apposition states Isaac brought her in the tent - Mother Sarah. Although the phrase is broken up into two connected phrases the effect of apposition remains. It is no longer the tent of Sarah but rather the tent - Mother Sarah. In other words the tent had achieved reknown as Mother Sarah's tent or Mother Sarah for short. Rashi gives some examples of what the tent could be known for - good food available, well lit, etc. The details need not concern us. Rather the basic idea of Rashi is that the tent was known as Sarah and this linguistic style indicates attributes for which the tent was known.

    BRIEF EXPLANATION: Aligning two almost identically worded verselets can suggest
    • (4a) 2 cases of the same incident or law
    • (4b) emphasis on the nuances of a case
    • (4c) use of broad vs literal usage of words
    This examples applies to Rashis Gn24-47a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: Eliezer saw Rivkah's charitableness and was sure she was the person: 1st) he gave her the ring 2nd) He then asked for her family. But when speaking to her family he reversed the order to appear business like.

Verse Gn24-47a
Hebrew Verse וָאֶשְׁאַל אֹתָהּ וָאֹמַר בַּת מִי אַתְּ וַתֹּאמֶר בַּת בְּתוּאֵל בֶּן נָחוֹר אֲשֶׁר יָלְדָה לּוֹ מִלְכָּה וָאָשִׂם הַנֶּזֶם עַל אַפָּהּ וְהַצְּמִידִים עַל יָדֶיהָ:
English Verse And I asked her, and I said, 'Whose daughter are you?' And she replied, 'The daughter of Bethuel the son of Nahor, whom Milcah bore to him.' And I placed the nose ring on her nose and the bracelets on her hands.
Rashi Header Hebrew ואשאל ואשים
Rashi Text Hebrew שנה הסדר, שהרי הוא תחלה נתן ואחר כך שאל, אלא שלא יתפשוהו בדבריו ויאמרו היאך נתת לה, ועדיין אינך יודע מי היא:
Rashi Header Enlish And I asked…and I placed
Rashi Text English He reversed the sequence of events, because, in fact, he had first given [her the jewelry] and then asked [about her family]. But [he changed the order] lest they catch him in his words and say,“How did you give her [the jewelry] when you did not yet know who she was?”

The table below presents an aligned extract of verses in Gn24-22:23, Gn24-47 Both verses discuss Eliezer meeting Rivkah and deciding that she is the proper wife for Isaac. The alignment justifies the Rashi assertion that Eliezer disguised himself as a slave but nevertheless Rivkah provided food and water. Eliezer was so excited by her charitable nature that he 1st) gave her the ring (that is, he was sure she was Isaac's wife) and 2nd) inquired about her family. He therefore gave gratitude to God for God's quick guidance. But in discussing the matter with Rivkah's family he 1st) mentioned inquiring about her family and 2nd) gave her the ring. With her family Eliezer did not want to appear emotional and involved with God. He rather wished to appear business like and professional.

Verse Text of Verse Rashi comment
  • Ring 1st: And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden ring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold;
  • Family 2nd: and said: 'Whose daughter art thou? tell me, I pray thee. Is there room in thy father's house for us to lodge in?
Rivkah gave charity to a slave. Eliezer was shocked. Someone so charitable must be Isaac's wife. He saw it as an act of God. He therefore gave her the ring first and inquired about her family, 2nd.
  • Family 1st: And I asked her, and said: Whose daughter art thou? And she said: The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor's son, whom Milcah bore unto him.
  • Ring 2nd: And I put the ring upon her nose, and the bracelets upon her hands
With Rivkah's family Eliezer did not want to appear emotional and involved with God. Such an air would turn them off. Instead he had to appear logical, business-like and professional. Hence he used the logical order: family 1st, ring 2nd.

Advanced Rashi: Rashi teaches us the etiquette of wearing different hats. Very often in life we have to be cold in one setting and warm in another, emotional vs. logical, faith-dependent vs. involved with God. The Eliezer story succinctly depicts the different hats that we have to wear and how to successfully accomplish it.

      Rashi examines how rules of style influences inferences between general and detail statements in paragraphs.
      • Example: Every solo example stated by the Bible must be broadly generalized;
      • Theme-Detail: A general principle followed by an example is interpreted restrictively---the general theme statement only applies in the case of the example;
      • Theme-Detail-Theme: A Theme-Detail-Theme unit is interpreted as a paragraph. Consequently the details of the paragraph are generalized so that they are seen as illustrative of the theme.
      This examples applies to Rashis Gn23-01b
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: SARAHS LIFE - had 3 stages - SARAHS LIFE (One unified life with 3 aspects).

Verse Gn23-01a
Hebrew Verse וַיִּהְיוּ חַיֵּי שָׂרָה מֵאָה שָׁנָה וְעֶשְׂרִים שָׁנָה וְשֶׁבַע שָׁנִים שְׁנֵי חַיֵּי שָׂרָה:
English Verse And the life of Sarah was one hundred years and twenty years and seven years; [these were] the years of the life of Sarah.
Rashi Header Hebrew ויהיו חיי שרה מאה שנה ועשרים שנה ושבע שנים
Rashi Text Hebrew לכך נכתב שנה בכל כלל וכלל, לומר לך שכל אחד נדרש לעצמו, בת מאה כבת עשרים לחטא, מה בת עשרים לא חטאה, שהרי אינה בת עונשין, אף בת מאה בלא חטא, ובת עשרים כבת שבע ליופי:
Rashi Header Enlish And the life of Sarah was one hundred years and twenty years and seven years
Rashi Text English The reason that the word “years” was written after every digit is to tell you that every digit is to be expounded upon individually: when she was one hundred years old, she was like a twenty-year-old regarding sin. Just as a twenty-year-old has not sinned, because she is not liable to punishment, so too when she was one hundred years old, she was without sin. And when she was twenty, she was like a seven-year-old as regards to beauty. — from Gen. Rabbah 58:1]

Certain Biblical paragraphs are stated in a Theme-Development-Theme form. In other words a broad general idea is stated first followed by the development of this broad general theme in specific details. The paragraph-like unit is then closed with a repetition of the broad theme. The Theme-Detail-Theme form creates a unified paragraph. The detailed section of this paragraph is therefore seen as an extension of the general theme sentences. Today's example illustrates this as shown immediately below.

    Verse Gn23-01b discussing Sarah's life states states
    • General Theme: This is the life of Sarah
    • Detail:
      • The 100-year life [maturity],
      • The 20-year life [the young-adult life]
      • The 7-year life [innocence]
    • General: The years of Sarah's life

Rashi comments on the Theme-Detail-Theme form which creates the illusion of an entire paragraph. Although her life had 3 distinct aspects - maturity, young-adulthood, innocence - nevertheless these 3 aspects were illustrative of her life as a whole. That is her life had a unified theme of personal-fulfillment and growth.

Advanced Rashi: We have not explained why we translated the verse as the 100 year life, the 20 year life, the 7 year life. This is in fact the subject of another Rashi. We are simply not covering it today. However it will be justified, possibly next year. We also seem to have taken sides on what the 100 year, 20 year and 7 year life mean. There is considerable controversy among Rashi-ists on this point. We will explain this also next year. Right now, we are focusing on the general-theme-General form which justifies that the three stages be nevertheless perceived as aspects of one whole life.

      BRIEF EXPLANATION:Inferences from Biblical formatting: #NAME?
      • Use of repetition to indicate formatting effects: bold,italics,...;
      • use of repeated keywords to indicate a bullet effect;
      • rules governing use and interpretation of climactic sequence;
      • rules governing paragraph development and discourse
      This examples applies to Rashis Gn24-55c
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: CLIMAX: Let the girl stay with us a) DAYS [= A YEAR] or b) at least 10 [=10 months]

Verse Gn24-55c
Hebrew Verse וַיֹּאמֶר אָחִיהָ וְאִמָּהּ תֵּשֵׁב הַנַּעֲרָ אִתָּנוּ יָמִים אוֹ עָשׂוֹר אַחַר תֵּלֵךְ:
English Verse And her brother and her mother said, Let the maiden stay with us a year or ten [months]; afterwards she will go.
Rashi Header Hebrew או עשור
Rashi Text Hebrew עשרה חדשים. ואם תאמר ימים ממש, אין דרך המבקשים לבקש דבר מועט ואם לא תרצה תן לנו מרובה מזה:
Rashi Header Enlish or ten
Rashi Text English [Meaning] ten months, for if you say that יָמִים is [to be understood literally as] days, it is not customary for people who make requests to request a small thing and [to say,] “If you are unwilling, give us more than that.” - [Kethuboth 57].

The climax principle asserts that a sequence of similar phrases should be interpreted climactically even if the words and grammatical constructs used do not directly suggest this. That is the fact of the sequence justifies reading into the Biblical text a climactic interpretation even if no other textual source justifies it. For this reason we consider the climax method a distinct and separate method.

    The climax principle is illustrated by verse Gn24-55c, discussing the request, by the family of the soon to-be-wed bride that she be allowed to stay home a little longer before leaving, states And her brother and her mother said:
    • 'Let the damsel abide with us days,
    • or ten;
    after that she shall go.'

    An initial interpretation could be literal as indicated by the bracketed words And her brother and her mother said:
    • 'Let the damsel abide with us [a few]days,
    • or ten [days];
    after that she shall go.'

Rashi however objects to such an explanation. True - such an explanation is consistent with word meaning and grammar But it is non-climatic. People simply don't speak that way. They don't ask for a few days and then say but if I can't get a few let me get 10. Such a sequencing is anti-climactic.

    Rashi therefore provides an interpretation consistent with climax. And her brother and her mother said:
    • 'Let the damsel abide with us days [a year],
    • or ten [months];
    after that she shall go.'
    It is important to understand the underlying Rashi methods: Rashi is using climax The climax principle allows us to interpret the ambiguous ten as meaning ten months versus ten days. The Bible occasionally uses the word days to mean year and since year versus a few days is consistent with climax Rashi so interprets.

Modern scholarship uses the term parallelism to explain what we have called Climax. Professor Kugel in particular has emphasized that parallelism in the biblical Poetic literature should be interpreted climactically, as this gives the most natural and authentic rendering of the text.

      BRIEF EXPLANATION:Rashi makes inferences from Database queries. The precise definition of database query has been identified in modern times with the 8 operations of Sequential Query Language (SQL).

      This example applies to Rashis Gn24-52a
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: BOWING in the Bible symbolizes to 4 things: a) Thanks b) Acknowledgement of power c) Greeting d) Worship

Verse Gn24-52a
Hebrew Verse וַיְהִי כַּאֲשֶׁר שָׁמַע עֶבֶד אַבְרָהָם אֶת דִּבְרֵיהֶם וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּ אַרְצָה לַי־הֹוָ־ה:
English Verse Now it came to pass when Abraham's servant heard their words, that he prostrated himself on the ground to the Lord.
Rashi Header Hebrew וישתחו ארצה
Rashi Text Hebrew מכאן שמודים על בשורה טובה:
Rashi Header Enlish that he prostrated himself on the ground
Rashi Text English From here [we learn] that we must give thanks for good tidings.

    We ask the following database query: What does bowing symbolically affirm in the Bible? The reader is encouraged to perform the query using a standard Biblical Konnkordance or search engine. This database query yields the list below. The list justifies the following Rashi inference: Bowing can symbolically affirm 4 items:
    1. A greeting of 'Hello.'
    2. Expression of Thanks
    3. Acknowledgement of Power
    4. Worship
    The list below presents the results of the database query and shows examples.

Meaning of Bowing A Supportive Verse Text of Verse
Greeting of Hello Ex18-07 And Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, and bowed down and kissed him; and they asked each other of their welfare; and they came into the tent
Expression of Thanks Gn24-52 And it came to pass, that, when Abraham's servant heard their words, he bowed himself down to the earth unto the LORD
Acknowledgement of Power Gn37-10 he told it to his father, and to his brethren; and his father rebuked him, and said unto him: 'What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down to thee to the earth?'
Worship Ex24-01 And unto Moses He said: 'Come up unto the LORD, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and bow ye afar off;

    BRIEF EXPLANATION: The common denominator of the 3 submethods of the Spreadsheet method is that inferences are made from non textual material. The 3 submethods are as follows:
    • Spreadsheet: Rashi makes inferences of a numerical nature that can be summarized in a traditional spreadsheet
    • Geometric: Rashi clarifies a Biblical text using descriptions of geometric diagrams
    • Fill-ins: Rashi supplies either real-world background material or indicates real-world inferences from a verse. The emphasis here is on the real-world, non-textual nature of the material.
    This examples applies to Rashis Gn24-08a
    URL Reference: (c)
    Brief Summary: RE: Wife for my son Isaac: (A) Not a Canaanitess. (B) A wife from my relatives. (C) If she doesn't want it, still not a Canaannite. (D)RASHI: Take a wife from my friends, Aner...

Verse Gn24-08a
Hebrew Verse וְאִם לֹא תֹאבֶה הָאִשָּׁה לָלֶכֶת אַחֲרֶיךָ וְנִקִּיתָ מִשְּׁבֻעָתִי זֹאת רַק אֶת בְּנִי לֹא תָשֵׁב שָׁמָּה:
English Verse And if the woman will not wish to go after you, you will be absolved of this, my oath; only do not return my son back there.
Rashi Header Hebrew ונקית משבועתי וגו'
Rashi Text Hebrew וקח לו אשה מבנות ענר אשכול וממרא:
Rashi Header Enlish you will be absolved of this, my oath
Rashi Text English And take him a wife from the daughters of Aner, Eshkol, and Mamre. — [From Gen. Rabbah 49:8]

    The non-verse method refers to clarification of textual content by any non-verse method including spreadsheets, geometry, and logic. Verses Gn24-03:08 discussing Abraham's orders to Eliezer on whom he should select as a wife for Isaac his son has 3 logical components which we indicate by capital letters. They are as follows.
    • A: No Canaanite wife
    • B: A wife from relatives
    • C: And if none of the above....
    Let us now examine the actual dialog and biblical text using this lens of A-B-C.

    • A: And I will make you swear by the Lord, ... that you shall not take a wife for my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, ....
    • B: But you shall go to my ... family, and take a wife ...
    • C: And the servant said ... Perhaps the woman will not be willing; would I then be allowed a Canaanite wife.
    • A': And Abraham said to him, Beware that you bring not my son there again.
    • B': The Lord God of heaven, ...shall send his angel before you, to take a wife from my relatives
    • C': And if the woman will not be willing to follow you,
    • B'': then you shall be free from this my oath; [Rashi: From part B of the oath]
    • A'':only bring not my son there again.
    • C'': [Rashi: So take a wife from my friends, Aner, Esckol and Mamre.]
    We have used here bold letters A,B,C,D defined above with and without primes to show the flow of logic. Rashi's sole contribution here is to clarify the flow of logic. For example Rashi contributed C'': the idea of obtaining a wife from the family of friends if relatives are uncooperative. Since Rashi clarifies the flow of logic we have classified this Rashi as a non-verse Rashi.

      BRIEF EXPLANATION: Rashi provides symbolic interpretations of words, verses, and chapters. Rashi can symbolically interpret either
      • (10a) entire Biblical chapters such as the gifts of the princes, Nu-07
      • (10b) individual items, verses and words
      The rules governing symbolism and symbolic interpretation are presented in detail on my website.

      This examples applies to Rashis Gn24-22a Gn24-22b Gn24-22c
      URL Reference: (c)
      Brief Summary: Eliezer gave three gifts to Rivkah symbolizing three aspects of her personality needed in a good marriage: a) A cheap bracelet = caring about the cheap person; b) dual bracelets = dual - man God - approach c) $10 item = concern about community vs single digit/person.

Verse Gn24-22a
Hebrew Verse וַיְהִי כַּאֲשֶׁר כִּלּוּ הַגְּמַלִּים לִשְׁתּוֹת וַיִּקַּח הָאִישׁ נֶזֶם זָהָב בֶּקַע מִשְׁקָלוֹ וּשְׁנֵי צְמִידִים עַל יָדֶיהָ עֲשָׂרָה זָהָב מִשְׁקָלָם:
English Verse Now it came about, when the camels had finished drinking, [that] the man took a golden nose ring, weighing half [a shekel], and two bracelets for her hands, weighing ten gold [shekels].
Rashi Header Hebrew בקע
Rashi Text Hebrew רמז לשקלי ישראל בקע לגלגלת:
Rashi Header Enlish half [a shekel]
Rashi Text English This alludes to the shekels of Israel, half a shekel per head. — [Targum Jonathan]

    Verse Gn24-22c discussing the gifts that Eliezer gave Rivkah states And it came to pass, as the camels finished drinking, that the man took
  • a golden ear ring of half a dollar value, and
  • two bracelets for her hands of
  • ten shekels weight of gold;

    The Rashi symbolic interpretations of these gifts seems strange:
  • a golden ear ring of half a dollar value, [Rashi: corresponding to the Biblical commandment to give a half-dollar]
  • two bracelets for her hands of [Rashi: Corresponding to the 10 commandments given on two stones]
  • ten shekels weight of gold; [Rashi: Corresponding to the 10 commandments]

This Rashi is strange because it implies that Eliezer is prophesying that Rebekkah will be a matriarch to a people who will receive the 10 commandments and be commanded on the giving of the half-dollar. Rebekkah was in no position to know this at this stage of her life.

    However the Rashi interpretations can be made plausible if we use one simple Rashi rule: Rashi does not speak using abstract concepts but rather Rashi speaks using examples of these concepts. Hence
  • The concept of caring about the little man in the street is symbolized by the half dollar vs. say the $100 bill. The half dollar symbolism is also used in the commandment for every Jew to give a half dolloar symbolizing that all the little people in the nation count. Consequently instead of using the abstract concept of the little man in the street Rashi uses an example of this concept: The commandment to give a half dollar. Here we have used our understanding of Rashi's style to make his commentary plausible.
  • The abstract concept of a dual emphasis on commandments between man-and-man vs. commandments between man-and-God is exemplified by the two tablets containing the ten commandments since one side the ten commandments contains commandments between man-and-God while the other side contains commandments between man-and-man.
  • The abstract concept of community is symbolized by the plural number ten. One example of this is the quorom of people needed for a religious service,10, since the service must be delivered by the community. Another example might be the 10 commandments which contain the basic laws and ethics needed by the community.

    Using this principle that Rashi expresses abstract concepts by using examples of them we can translate the Rashi symbolism into traditional abstract language. Rashi is explaining what Eliezer liked about Rivkah which would make her a good wife for Isaac:
  • a golden ear ring of half a dollar value, [Rashi: She cared about the little man; Eliezer knew this since she gave a slave water to drink]
  • two bracelets for her hands of [Rashi: She had a dual caring about both people and God---since she cared about the person, Eliezer, and also showed caring behavior to his animals(a man-God commandment)
  • ten shekels weight of gold; [Rashi: Corresponding to her concerns for the community since she fed the camels which were presumably carrying commercial loads for community business]

As shown the Rashi symbolic interpretation is plausible and not far fetched. The sole tool we used to make Rashi plausible is replacing examples by the abstract concepts they exemplify. Rashi was not attributing prophetic knowledge to Rivkah or Eliezer. Rather Rashi was explaining how the events which just happened indictated personality traits desirable in a mate.


This week's parshah contains no examples of the Contradiction Rashi method. Visit the RashiYomi website at for further details and examples.