Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Shakespeare Got It From Rashi

See Rashi to Devarim 1:10:

(י) והנכם היום ככוכבי השמים - וכי ככוכבי השמים היו באותו היום, והלא לא היו אלא שישים רבוא, מהו והנכם היום, הנכם משולים כיום, קיימים כחמה וכלבנה וככוכבים:

That means as follows: "But on that day, were they as the stars in the heaven? Indeed, they were no more than 600,000 [adult men]!" Actually, Moshe was saying hayom, literally 'the day'- "You may be compared to the day; you are everlasting like the sun, the moon, and the stars." (Hat-Tip: Artscroll.)

Every English major who has ever read Shakespeare's Sonnet 18, otherwise entitled 'Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer's Day?' should be laughing their heads off right now.

(And no, I don't really think that Shakespeare read Rashi and took the comparison from there. But! It's all Torah, it's all Torah, and anyone who says it's not Torah or claims s/he doesn't see Torah in supposed secular studies just doesn't know how to read.)


nmf #7 said...

That's kind of cool. Thanks, Chana!

Unknown said...

yah I know what ya mean!



Anonymous said...

But Shakespeare compares his love to a summer's day and finds the lover more lovely and temperate. Summer may pass, but his love's "summer" is eternal--because the lover's beauty will now live on through the poem.

His love is greater and more eternal than a summer's day, in short, because of the art inspired by the lover's beauty (the poem being the truly "eternal" thing).

But hey, I do like the approach of finding Torah in secular subjects.

inkstainedhands said...


Anonymous -- Every single object of beauty can become less beautiful through chance/nature (either that some summer days happen to be too hot or cloudy or that summer changes to fall), but his lover is otherwise, because she will forever remain beautiful, since that beauty of her youth is immortalized. She will always be remembered as she was in that moment.

And that can also lead to a conversation about how people will appear during the times of Mashiach -- which 'stage' of their physical appearance will be eternal.

Anonymous said...

Yes, that's more or less what I was saying. My point is that while both involve comparisons to day, I don't really think Rashi "scooped" Shakespeare on this one--there's a different angle to each of the two comparisons ("you will always exist as a nation, just as the sun etc always exist" vs. "your beauty will outlast even the seasons because I am immortalizing it").

But again, I appreciate the motivation, and sure, there is a connection on some basic level.

Jewish Atheist said...

My perspective is so much different now... if Shakespeare echoes Rashi, that makes Rashi look slightly better. Shakespeare is way out of Rashi's league... hell, he's out of the Biblical authors' league.

in the vanguard said...

The irony is Shakespeare was anti-Semitic.