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Shemos 7:4-
וְלֹא-יִשְׁמַע אֲלֵכֶם פַּרְעֹה, וְנָתַתִּי אֶת-יָדִי בְּמִצְרָיִם; וְהוֹצֵאתִי אֶת-צִבְאֹתַי אֶת-עַמִּי בְנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל, מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם, בִּשְׁפָטִים, גְּדֹלִים

There, Rashi comments- את ידי: יד ממש להכות בהם

Does this mean that Rashi was a corporealist? Is there another way to understand his commentary on this Pasuk?

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2 Answers 2

Here is a way to read this Rashi other that advancing corporealism:

Usually, when we see Yad, it means to signify strength. So one might understand that Hashem will apply his strength against the Egyptians. However, Rashi here is saying that there is a metaphor here, of someone striking another. And that is an actual hand performing an act of hitting. To put your hand against -- to hit them with your first. Then, of course, the fact that this idiom is meant allegorically kicks in, such that it is Hashem acting against the Egyptians. (Because, surely one does not think that Hashem put a physical fist against physical Egypt -- that would be hard to see in practice. Would they be squished?) But rather, first you need to understand the peshat in the mashal before you can understand the nimshal.

Further reading about Rashi and corporealism by yours truly: http://parsha.blogspot.com/2009/08/corporealist-rashi-as-if.html http://parsha.blogspot.com/2010/09/does-hashem-have-nostrils-do-they-smoke.html

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But if it's a metaphor, why did he write "literal hand"? –  Bochur613 Nov 27 '13 at 12:49
Because within the metaphor, it IS a literal hand. That literal hand slaps. Only then do we as readers understand the metaphor. This is in line with wfb's answer, I think... –  josh waxman Nov 28 '13 at 13:08

Richard Steiner (quoted by Natan Slifkin) cites Rashi in Shemot 14:31:

את היד הגדלה: את הגבורה הגדולה שעשתה ידו של הקב"ה. והרבה לשונות נופלין על לשון יד, וכולן לשון יד ממש הן, והמפרש יתקן הלשון אחר ענין הדבור

The great hand--the great mighty deed which God's hand has performed. Many meanings fit the word יד, but they are all the same as the meaning of an actual hand, which the interpreter adjusts according to the context.

According to Steiner, Rashi intends to argue with Menachem ben Saruk who says that "yad" has four different meanings. Rashi, on the other hand, holds that "yad" has only one primary meaning, but that this primary meaning itself can be used different ways in different contexts. See also Rashi Shemot 2:5 cited ibid.

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