The Middot of Hillel [Hillel’s Hermeneutical Rules] Part 7

[7] Davar Halamad Meniano

[Davar halamed meniano vadavar halamed misofo, #12 Ishmael]

Torah 2


The easiest term I’ve seen for this rule is deduction from context. In less-than-simple terms from R’Ishmael but a bit more accurate, the rule allows a passage to be deduced from its context [meniano] or from a later reference in a following passage [misofo].

An example of a meiniano exists in Exodus 20:13, where it states, “You shall not steal.” The phrase cannot mean simple pilfering because the other two offenses listed in the verse both carry with them the death penalty. Therefore, the phrase must mean stealing human beings, i.e., kidnapping, which, then, carries with it the death penalty like murder and adultery [cf. Mekhilta de R’Ishmael Bachodesh 8:51-65].

The word tinshemet is listed in the category of unclean birds that one cannot eat [Levitic

us 11:18]. However, tinshemet is in the list of creeping animals in Leviticus 11:30. Therefore, it’s clear that tinshemet [1] is the name or category of a certain bird as well as of a certain creeping thing.

An example of a misofo can be found in Leviticus 14:34, where Hashem says, “I will place a Tzaraat affliction upon a house in the land of your possession, etc.” The houses that can be
afflicted are limited to houses constructed of stones, timber, and mortar [cf. Leviticus 14:45]. The Torah mentions that no one can have relations with any close relative [Leviticus 18:6]. However, one does not know the extent of who is “too close” for marital consideration. Therefore, Leviticus 18:7-18 lists those with whom one is forbidden to marry [these unions, subsequently are punished with the death penalty prior to the arrival of offspring].

In another example, Deuteronomy 19:6 is in reference to the cities of refuge. It states, “lest the avenger of blood pursue the manslayer, while his heart is hot, and overtake him, because the way is long, and kill him; whereas he is not worthy of death, because he did not hate him in time past.” The ending phrase, “he did not hate him in time past” is in reference to the blood avenger and not the slayer.

[1] Hebrew, tinshemet means owl

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7 thoughts on “The Middot of Hillel [Hillel’s Hermeneutical Rules] Part 7

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