Their presence in Rashis on Parshath ChaYaY SaRaH Volume 15, Number 9
This weeks Weekly Rashi with Hebrew/English source tables
Is accessible at http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1509.htm
(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 chabad.org who in turn acknowledges the Judaica Press Complete Tanach, copyright by Judaica Press.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 http://www.Rashiyomi.com for further details and examples.