Their presence in Rashis on Parshath ToLeDoTh Volume 15, Number 10
This weeks Weekly Rashi with Hebrew/English source tables
Is accessible at http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rule1509.htm
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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 Gn25-01 discussing discussing Abraham's 2nd marriage after Sarah's death states And Abraham took another wife, and her name was Keturah. Rashi notes: The underlined word, Keturah..., references verse 1C01-32 discussing the children of Keturah, Abraham's concubine, states And the sons of Keturah, Abraham's concubine: she bore Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah. And the sons of Jokshan: Sheba, and Dedan. But Verse Gn15-03 discussing Abraham's taking Sarah's maid as a concubine states And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar the Egyptian, her handmaid, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to Abram her husband to be his wife. Hence, the single Concubine referred to in 1C01-32 refers to one person with the two names, Keturah and Hagar.
Advanced Rashi: Below in rule #5, Contradiction we will discuss the contradiction that verse Gn25-06 refers to the sons of the concubines [Plural] while verse 1C01-32 refers to the concubine of Abraham [Singular]. Roughly we shall show that this indicates that we have one person with two stages of maturity in life reflected by her two names.
When Rashi uses, what we may losely call, the hononym method, Rashi does not explain new meaning but rather shows an underlying unity in disparate meanings. Rashi will frequently do this by showing an underlying unity in the varied meanings of a Biblical root.
In my article Peshat and Derash found on the world wide web at http://www.Rashiyomi.com/rashi.pdf. I advocate enriching the Rashi explanation using a technique of parallel nifty translations in modern English. Today's examples show this.
Applying the above translation to Gn27-36c discussing Esauv's plea to obtain a blessing, we obtain And he said, Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he has supplanted me these two times; he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he has taken away my blessing. And he said, have you set aside a blessing for me? In providing this English translation notice that we have used the English idiom set aside which mirrors the Hebrew near, since near and side are semantically close.
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.
The table below presents an aligned extract of verses in Gn25-24a, Gn38-27 Both verses discuss pregnant women giving birth. The alignment justifies the Rashi assertion that Rivkah had a full 9 month pregnancy while Tamar had 7 month pregnancy. In the sermonic points section we provide further details.
Sermonic points: Rivkah had a pregnancy through marriage while Tamar had a pregnancy through an affair. The stresses of out-of-marriage pregnancy can prevent a normal gestation period and contribute to a premature birth. A pregnancy through marriage encourages normal delivery patterns.
The table below presents two contradictory verses/verselets. Both verses/verselets talk about the delivery of food by Esauv to Isaac for purposes of blessing. The underlined words highlight the contradiction. One verse/verselet says please get up while the other verse/verselet says please sit down. Which is it? Was it a request to get up or sit down? Rashi simply resolves this using the 2 stages method: Esauv requested that Isaac 1st) get up and 2nd) sit down at the dinner table so that Esauv could serve him the venizon he caught.
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.
Hence the Rashis on the above paragraph: Esauv lived a life of eating and drinking. Such a lifestyle is inconsistent with the Priesthood which requires a lifestyle speckled with abstention. As a simple example a priest who served while intoxicated could be liable to a death penalty. [Note: Initially the firstborn (birthright) served as priests and hence the identification of birthright and priesthood.]
The driving force behind Rashi is the re-interpretation of the Biblical phrase eat and drink as developmental details of the Biblical phrase did not want the birthright. Precisely because of the paragraph structure Rashi perceives the eating and drinking not as incidental items but as reflections and clarifications of did not want the priesthood. This is the essence of the style method.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi also teaches us basic etiquette. Jacob could have said: Look the Priesthood will be given to me and not to you; why don't you just cooperate and willfully give it to me; that way it looks better for you. This is an argument based on politics, power and authority. Instead the Bible approaches this as an argument based on lifestyle. Jacob's lifestyle belonged with the Priesthood; Esauv's lifestyle did not. It is always best to approach appointments based on merit instead of authority.
We have explained in our article Biblical Formatting located on the world wide web at http://www.Rashiyomi.com/biblicalformatting.pdf, that the Biblical Author indicates bold, italics, underline by using repetition. In other words if a modern author wanted to emphasize a word they would either underline, bold or italicize it. However when the Biblical author wishes to emphasize a word He repeats it. The effect - whether thru repetition or using underline - is the same. It is only the means of conveying this emphasis that is different.
Verse Gn25-29:34 discussing Esauv's request to Jacob for food after a hunt states And Jacob cooked pottage; and Esau came from the field, and he was famished. And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I beg you, with this red red pottage; for I am famished; therefore was his name called Edom [ruddy]. And Jacob said, Sell me this day your birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point of death; and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he swore to him; and he sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentils; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way; thus Esau despised his birthright. The repeated underlined word phrase red red indicates an unspecified emphasis. Rashi translates this unspecified emphasis as intentionally red That is Rashi translates the verse as follows: Feed me, I beg you, with this intentionally red pottage; for I am famished; therefore was his name called Edom [ruddy] In other words The vegetables being cooked were intentionally red.
Rashi goes on to clarify why the vegetables were intentionally red. They were intentionally red because red symbolizes blood and life and Jacob and Esauv were mourning grandpa Abraham who had just died. We will further justify in rules 7,10 a) that Abraham had just died and b)red is an appropriate symbol during mourning. Please read these two rules below for further clarification.
Today is a delightful example of the spreadsheet method. The spreadsheet below is a peach of an example of this important Rashi method. The spreadsheet with its underlying assumptions justifies the Rashi assertion that The sale of the birthright, by Esauv, to Jacob, happened during the week of mourning for Grandpa Abraham's death.
Now we can discuss the Rashi. Gn25-30 discusses the sale of the birthright by Esauv to Jacob. But no age is listed. We know, as discussed in rule #7 above, that intentionally red vegetables were being cooked by Jacob but we don't know why they were intentionally red. One reasonable assumption is that the intentionally red vegetables were being cooked as a symbol of mourning (See rule #10 below). Using that reasonable assumption we check and find that Abraham died at 175 when Jacob and Esauv was 15. The discussion presented in the Biblical text: Jacob: I would like your birthright. Esauv: I lead a physical life and don't really need the birthright-priesthood, is the type of discussion that teenagers have about their aspirations in life.
Nothing has been proven. But the spreadsheet makes it apear emminently reasonable that the sale happened during the week of mourning for Abraham. This example illustrates the flavor of the spreadsheet method. It shows what Rashi does as well as what he does not do. It also instructs on the proper attitude towards Rashi.
For further details and examples please see rule #8 above.
This week's parshah contains examples of all Rashi methods. Visit the RashiYomi website at http://www.Rashiyomi.com for further details and examples.