The Thirteen Rules of Ishmael

The Thirteen Rules of Ishmael

 

As with the use of any such rules the thirteen rules of Ishamael should be used to formulate sound arguments.
The First Rule of Ishmael (same as 1 st rule of Hillel)
The Second Rule of Ishmael (same as 2nd rule of Hillel)
The Third Rule of Ishmael (same as 3rd & 4th rules of Hillel)
The Fourth Rule of Ishmael (same as 5th rule of Hillel)
The Fifth Rule of Ishmael
perat ukhelal
(particular and general)

If the specific instances are stated first and are followed by the general category, instances other than the particular ones mentioned are included.

EXAMPLE: Deut. 13:2 (1) – 13:6 (5)

2(13:1) If there arise in the midst of you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams-and he give you a sign or a wonder,
3 (13:2) and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spoke unto you–saying: ‘Let us go after other Elohims, which you have not known, and let us serve them’;
4(13:3) you shall not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or unto that dreamer of dreams; for YHWH your Elohim puts you to proof, to know

whether you do love YHWH your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul.
5 (13:4) After YHWH your Elohim shall you walk, and Him shall you fear, and His commandments shall you keep, and unto His voice shall you hearken, and Him shall you serve, and unto Him shall you cleave. 6 (13:5) And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he has spoken perversion against YHWH your Elohim, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to draw you aside out of the way which YHWH your Elohim commanded you to walk in. So shall you put away the evil from the midst of you.

The specific commandment not to “go after other Elohims which you have not known and serve them” is followed by the general commandment “His commandments shall you keep.”

This text tells us that even if a prophet comes along who can predict the future with 100% accuracy and who can perform signs and wonders, if he tells us to go after other Elohims he must be rejected as a false prophet. But in light of the fifth rule of lshmael we learn that if such a prophet tells us to turn from any or all of the other commandments we must also reject him as a false prophet.

EXAMPLE: Ex. 22:8 (9) “…an ass, or an ox, or a sheep, or any beast” beasts other than those specified are included.
The Sixth Rule of Ishmael
kelal uferat ukhelal i attah dan ella ke-ein ha-perat
(general, particular, general)

If a general category are stated first and is followed by specific instances and then a general category then you may derive only things similar to those specified.

EXAMPLE: Dt. 14:26 Other things than those specified in Dt. 14:26 may be purchased, but only if they are food or drink like those specified.

EXAMPLE: Matt. 23:5-12
5 And so all their works they do that they may be seen by the sons of men, for they make broad the straps of their t”ftila, and enlarge the corners of their mantles,
6 and love the principal couches at the suppers.
7 and the principal seats in the synagogues, and benedictions in the market, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi’.
8 But you shall not be called ‘rabbi’ for one is your rabbi, and that is the Messiah. And all of you are brothers.
9 Also be not you called’father’ upon the earth, for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
10 Neither be you called ‘teachers’, for one is your teacher, and that is Messiah.
11 Whoever will be greatest among you let him be your servant.
12 For whoever exalts himself will be abased, and whoever is abased will be exalted.

Here we have first a general statement “all their works they do that they may be seen” (5a) followed by a list of specifics (verses 5b- 10) and finally another general statement “whoever exalts himself will be abased:” (12).

According to this rule we may apply this general rule to instances other than those listed in verses 5b- 10 but only if they are of a similar nature to the ones specified.
The Seventh Rule of Ishmael
kelal she-hu tzarikh liferat uferat she-hu tzarikh li-khelal
(The general requires the particular and the particular the general)

Specification is provided by taking the general and the particular together, each requiring the other.

EXAMPLE: Returning again to Matthew 23:5-12

5 And so all their works they do that they may be seen by the sons of men, for they make broad the straps of their t”ffila, and enlarge the corners of their mantles,
6 and love the principal couches at the suppers,
7 and the principal seats in the synagogues, and benedictions in the market, and to be called by men. ‘Rabbi’.
8 But you shall not be called ‘rabbi’ for one is your rabbi, and that is the Messiah. And all of you are brothers.
9 Also be not you called’father’ upon the earth, for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
10 Neither be you called ‘teachers’, for one is your teacher, and that is Messiah.
11 Whoever will be greatest among you let him be your servant.
12 For whoever exalts himself will be abased, and whoever is abased will be exalted.

Here we have first a general statement “all their works they do that they may be seen” (Sa) followed by a list of specifics (verses Sb-10) and finally another general statement “whoever exalts himself will be abased:” (12).

Now the seventh rule of Ishmael tells us that the phrase “you shall not be called `rabbi„’ (8) is limited in scope by the general statements “all their works they do that they might be seen” and “whoever exalts himself”. Thus the rule against being called `rabbi’ is to be understood as limited only to cases of self-exaltation.

EXAMPLE: “Sanctify unto Me all the firstborn (masc.)” (Dt. 15:19) with “whatsoever opens the womb” (Ex. 13:2) A firstborn male would have been understood as included in the term “all the firstborn” even if a female had previously been born to that mother. Thus the particular limiting expression “whatever opens the womb” is stated. But this term would not have excluded one born after a previous c-section birth, hence the general term “all the firstborn” (b.Bek. 19a)
The Eighth Rule of Ishmael
davar she-hayah bi-khelal ve-yatza min ha-kelal lelammed lo lelammed al atzmo yatza ella lelammed al hakelal kullo yatzo

that man has no consciousness in the afterlife. However if we apply this same general rule to both specifics then “neither have they any more a reward” would have to mean that there is no future reward for the dead. Thus their interpretation violates the eighth rule of Ishmael.

EXAMPLE: Some commentators take 1 Cor. 7:18 as a general prohibition against circumcision. But if I Cor. 7:18 is to be understood as a general prohibition against circumcision, then 1 Con 7:27 would have to be understood as a general prohibition against marriage. Thus their interpretation violates the eighth rule of Ishmael.

EXAMPLE: Some commentators take Gal. 3:28 “there is neither Jew nor Greek” to mean that members of the “Church” are neither Jews nor Gentiles but a third category “the Church of Elohim”. However if one understands “there is neither Jew nor Greek” as a specific for such a generalization, then one would also have to understand “there is neither male nor female” to mean that members of “the Church” have no sexual designations. Thus their interpretation violates the eighth rule of Ishmael.

EXAMPLE: “A man, also, or a woman that divines that by a ghost or a familiar spirit, shall surely be put to death; they shall stone them with stones” (Lev. 20:27) Divination by a ghost or a familiar spirit is included in the general rule against witchcraft (Dt. 18:10f). Since the penalty in Lev. 20:27 is stoning it may be inferred that the same penalty applies to other instances within the same general rule. (b.San. 67b)
The Nineth Rule of Ishmael
davar she-hayah bi khelal ve-yatza liton to’an echad she-hu khe-inyano yatza lehakel ve-lo lehachmir
(when particular instances of a general rule are treated specifically, in details similar to those included in the general rule, then only the relaxations of the general rule and not its restrictions are to be applied in those instances.)

EXAMPLE: The law of the boil (Lev. 13:18-2 1) and the bum (Lev. 13:24-28) are treated specifically even though these are specific instances of the general rule regarding plague spots (Lev. 13:1-17) Therefore the general restrictions regarding

the Law of the second week (Lev. 13:5) and the quick raw flesh (Lev. 13:10 are not applied to them (Sifra 1:2)

The Tenth Rule of Ishmael
davar she-hayah bi-khelal ve-yatza liton Wan acher she-lo khe-inyano yatza lehakellehachmir.
(When particular instances of a general rule are treated specifically in details dissimilar from those included in the general rule, then both relaxations and restrictions are to be applied in those instances)

EXAMPLE: The details on laws of plagues in the hair or beard (Lev. 13:29-37) are dissimilar from those in the general rule of plague spots. Therefore both the relaxation regarding the white hair mentioned in the general rule (Lev. 13:4) and the restriction of the yellow hair mentioned in the particular instance (Lev. 13:30) are applied (Sifra 1:3)
The Eleventh Rule of Ishmael
davar she-hayah bi-khelal ve-yatza lidon ba-davar he-chadash i attah yakhol lehachatziro li khelalo ad she-yachazirennu ha-katav li-khelalo be-ferush. (when a particular instance of a general rule is singled out for completely fresh treatment, the details of the general rule must not be applied to this instance unless Scripture does so specifically.)

EXAMPLE: the guilt offering of the leper requires the placing of the blood on the ear, thumb, and toe (Lev. 14:14) Consequently, the laws of the general guilt offering, such as the sprinkling of the blood on the alter (Lev. 7:2) would not have applied, were it not for the Torah passage “For as the sin offering is the priest’s so is the guilt offering” (Lev.14:13), i.e. that this is like other guilt offerings (b.Yev. 7ab)
The Twefth Rule of Ishmael
davar ha-lamed me-inyano ve-davar ha-lamed mi-sofo.
(The meaning of a passage may be deduced from (a) its
context, or (b) from a later reference in the same passage)

The first part of this rule is Hillel’s seventh rule.

EXAMPLE: “thou shall not steal” in Ex. 20:13 must refer to the capitol case of kidnapping, since the other two offenses mentioned with it: “You shall not murder” and “you shall not commit adultry” are both capitol offenses (Mekh., BaChodesh, 8, 5)

EXAMPLE: “I put the plague of leporasy in a house of the land of your possesion” (Lev. 14:34), refers only to a house built with stones, timber, and mortar, since these materials are mentioned later in verse 45.
The Thirteenth Rule of Ishmael
shenei khetuvim hamakhchishim zeh et teh ad she-yavo ha-katuv ha-shelishi ve-yakhria beineihem.
(two verses contradict one another until a third verse reconciles them.)

This is VERY similar to the sixth rule of Hillel.

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