Wednesday, April 09, 2014

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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Acharei Mos: Why is the esnachta on לַפָּרֹכֶת?

The placement of the etnachta on the second pasuk in Acharei Mot seems a bit odd:

The etnachta usually marked the logical midpoint of the pasuk, yet this does not seem to be the case here. Namely, the etnachta is at the place of the double-dashes, [--]:
and the LORD said unto Moses: 'Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the veil [--] before the ark-cover which is upon the ark; that he die not; for I appear in the cloud upon the ark-cover.
We should expect that it would appear after the word "ark", or after the phrase "that he die not", rather than in the middle of the description of the holy place.

Rabbi Yaakov Tzvi Mecklenburg, in his sefer haKsav vehaKabbalah, asks this very question:

He writes:

haKsav vehaKabbalah
"within the veil -- the author of the trup connected אֶל-פְּנֵי הַכַּפֹּרֶת [namely, the phrase immediately following the etnachta] with the end of the verse, rather than putting the break in the statement via the etnachta upon וְלֹא יָמוּת, for the primary reason that he should not come [there] is because of the revelation of the Divine Presence, and that is upon the ark-cover [kapores] between the cherubs. Therefore he placed the etnacha on the word לַפָּרֹכֶת."

I am not sure who רל"ש is. Anyone know?

Meanwhile, here is how Shadal addresses the issue:

"וְאַל-יָבֹא בְכָל-עֵת אֶל-הַקֹּדֶשׁ -- The trup assigned here is quite strange, for the etnachta should properly be under וְלֹא יָמוּת. [Josh: Here he rewrites the trup as it would be were the etnachta moved over.] And perhaps the position of the author of the trup is like Rabbi Yehuda [in Menachot 27b], that within the veil is a prohibition [punishable by lashes] while before the ark-cover is [punishable] by death:

 רבי יהודה אומר כל היכל כולו ומבית לפרכת בארבעים ואל פני הכפרת במיתה

'Rabbi Yehuda said: the entire heical as well as mibeit laparochet is with forty [lashes], while el penei hakapores is [punished] with death'. 

And it is further possible to say that perhaps, in the Second Temple, there was one who said that nowadays, that there is no ark and no ark-cover, it is fitting that it would be permitted to enter into the Holy of Holies. Therefore the Sages saw fit to split the statement in the verse as if it were two statements, namely 

  1. "that he come not at all times into the holy place within the veil" (even if there is no ark or ark-cover there, it is forbidden to approach there, and still)
  2. "before the ark-cover which is upon the ark" (do not come at all times) - "lest you die" -- 

[Thus] during the time that the ark is there, there is death, and at the time the ark is not there, there is not death, but there is still a prohibition [warning]. And the authors of the trup (who were after the closing of the Talmud) appointed the trup based on the reading which was received orally from the Sages of the Second Temple era."

I would note that the Chachamim in the gemara, as per the gemara's parsing, also separate the pasuk in an odd way:
רבנן סברי אל הקודש בלא יבא מבית לפרכת ואל פני הכפרת בלא ימות
ור' יהודה סבר אל הקודש ומבית לפרכת בלא יבא ואל פני הכפרת בלא ימות

The Malbim has the same idea as Shadal. In his commentary on the Sifra, HaTorah veHamitzvah, he writes the following.

"And the position of Rabbi Yehuda that מִבֵּית לַפָּרֹכֶת relates to the earlier part [of the verse], and also it is only with a warning [prohibition], and אֶל-פְּנֵי הַכַּפֹּרֶת alone falls under 'lest he die'. (And the author of the trup who pointed the etnachta upon the word לַפָּרֹכֶת, it appears that his position was like Rabbi Yehuda."
Meanwhile, William Wickes, in his book on the system of trup, on page 41-42, considers this pasuk to be one instance of many of a trup pattern which occurs during specification:

The red arrow points to where he mentions the specific pasuk:

In a lengthy footnote, #21, he discusses this pasuk and argues with Shadal, Malbim, Geiger and Dillman in attributing the trup to the interpretation of Rabbi Yehuda in Menachos. While he is not unwilling to say that trup, particularly strange trup, was influenced by Rabbinic interpretation, here he does not think it likely since Rabbi Yehuda is a daas Yachid. On the contrary, he suggests that perhaps Rabbi Yehuda drew on the trup (really caused by reason Wickes gave) in order to support his own unique position.

See also Rashi on Yoma 52b, d"h vayaalu olot kevasim:

If there is a nafka mina in disputes as to the proper trup, and if as Malbim and Shadal say, the trup is like Rabbi Yehuda, and if Rambam paskens like the Chachamim, should we change our trup to match?

Monday, April 07, 2014

posts so far for Acharei Mos

1. How do we get fasting from תְּעַנּוּ אֶת-נַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶם?

2. Who was the ish iti?


1. Acharei Mot sources -- further developed.

2. YUTorah on parshas Acharei Mos. And from 2013, YUTorah on Acharei Mot and Kedoshim.

3. Is marrying two sisters intrinsically or extrinsically obnoxiousWe consider the perspective of Rashi (intrinsically), Ibn Ezra (based on the land), and Ibn Caspi (who rejects Ibn Ezra and gives a rationalist reason for the prohibition). I suggest that it is extrinsically bad, based on intent and social mores.


  1. Achrei Mos sources -- further expanded.
  2. Is there a vav in וְעַל הַכֹּהֲנִיםYes and no. Is there some way of deciding between these competing masorahs?
  3. The trup on הַשֹּׁכֵן אִתָּם בְּתוֹךְ טֻמְאֹתָם -- The difference between our masorah in trup and that of the Teimanim. In this instance, there is no practical difference, according to the rules as explained by Wickes.
  4. Was Ibn Ezra killed by demons?  So goes the story, showing how Ibn Ezra got his comeuppance, after claiming that demons did not exist. Though whether he actually claimed this is uncertain. I don't really believe the story, though.
  5. Et zachar vs. Ve'et zachar --  Another analysis of the absence or presence of a leading vav. In this instance, our Masoretic text is supported by the Samaritan text.
  6. YUTorah on parashat Acharei Mot.

  1. Achrei Mot sources -- revamped, with over 100 meforshim on the parasha and the haftara, organized by sections, such as Rashi's supercommentators.
  2. What are 'their statutes'? Further thoughts -- Further thoughts on what was meant by the statutes we are not meant to follow, in parashat Acharei Mot. I consider the idea of mandated mariages, as well of prohibited marriages. In particular, if the places they left and they places they went also defined prohibited relations, but differently that Biblical law, one might be prone to thinking of Biblically prohibited relations as not true incest. Therefore, the instruction not to follow intheir statutes, but in our own.

  1. Acharei Mos sources -- links by aliyah and perek to an online Mikraos Gedolos, as well as a slew of meforshim on the parsha and haftara.
  2. Why mention that it was after the death of Aharon's two sons? -- and whether on a peshat level there is some connection, more than chronological proximity, between that tragic event and the instructions to the kohanim.
  3. What are "their statutes"? In plural, when the only statute seems to be Molech. Shadal suggests positive instructions regarding marrying these Torah-forbidden relatives, in situations akin to yibbum. I suggest an alternative, in which these particular set of relatives are considered fair game, and permitted, within the statutes of different societies.

  4. Did the designated man live out the year? The midrash brought down and expanded by Chizkuni, about how he did not, and how they therefore chose someone destined to die anyway that year. And some analysis of how this midrash might have formed.
  5. My theory about the runaway scapegoat, and how this could have been a Sadducee trick, year after year, in order to fulfill the Yom Kippur ritual in accordance with their own interpretation. And the text of the Yerushalmi I am basing this theory on.
  6. You can also check out DovBear's extensive blogging this year about the goat to Azazel.
  • Goral LaAzazel
    • Two issues: It looks like idolatry, and why do we push it off a cliff when the pasuk says to send it into the wilderness? Rashi, Shadal, and Aharon ben Yosef solve this in their own ways.
  1. The Goat to Azazel
    • may look like syncretism, but it really is sending it off to a place. Compare with the next perek which requires bringing sacrifices to the Ohel Moed as opposed to the demons of the field. A comparison to the birds of the metzorah. And a possible Sadducee trick of "losing" the goat in the wilderness before being able to push it off the cliff.
  2. דמו בנפשו
    • and how Ibn Ezra's comment on this verse is not evidence of ruach hakodesh showing knowledge of oxygenated vs. non-oxygenated blood. An excerpt:

      He noted that this commentary by Ibn Ezra seems to recognize a modern medical fact - that there is a dual circulation , one of oxygenated blood (blood carrying oxygen, the oxygen obtained from the lungs) and unoxygenated blood. Further, as we know, the oxygenated blood is pumped out of the left side of the heart, and the unoxygenated blood comes in to the right side of the heart. Ibn Ezra thus seems to know of arteries, which carry oxygenated blood, and veins, carrying unoxygenated blood.

      This would be astounding, for Ibn Ezra was born in 1092 and passed on in 1167, and it was only in 1628 that William Harvey suggested the modern model.
      I show why this assertion is incorrect.
  3. Speak, Speak
    • But say what?

      The problem is that we have the first pasuk saying that Hashem spoke to Moshe, but we are not told what He said. The second verse says that Hashem spoke to Moshe and states the contents of Hashem's speech.
      Two midrashic explanations, and then attempts at peshat explanations.
    1. BeDibur Echad: (this includes reference to the issur Bamot in parashat Acharei Mot and a related, slightly opposing laws in sefer Devarim)
      Different accounts, different perspectives
    2. A link to an Opinion Journal article: "These United States - Will same-sex marriage lead to incest and polygamy? Let's hope so!"
    3. Nadav and Avihu vs. Korach's Edah (also see posts on parshat Shemini on this)
      1. How the descriptions of act and death are similar, so perhaps the sin is similar. Yet the midrash directly contradicts this presumption. And how it does so.
    4. Seirim: post I, post II, post III.
      1. What were they and what were their role in the Israelite mind. In retrospect, I could have done these better...
    5. to be continued

    Sunday, April 06, 2014

    Who was the ish iti?

    יַד-אִישׁ עִתִּי?
    In Acharei Mot, in discussing the seir hamishtalaech, we find that the ish iti is the one who brings the goat to Azazel.

    Vayikra 16:21:

    כא  וְסָמַךְ אַהֲרֹן אֶת-שְׁתֵּי יָדָו, עַל רֹאשׁ הַשָּׂעִיר הַחַי, וְהִתְוַדָּה עָלָיו אֶת-כָּל-עֲו‍ֹנֹת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְאֶת-כָּל-פִּשְׁעֵיהֶם לְכָל-חַטֹּאתָם; וְנָתַן אֹתָם עַל-רֹאשׁ הַשָּׂעִיר, וְשִׁלַּח בְּיַד-אִישׁ עִתִּי הַמִּדְבָּרָה.
    21 And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, even all their sins; and he shall put them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of an appointed man into the wilderness.

    I agree that the most straightforward meaning of Ish Iti is the man appointed for this task.

    Rabbi Yonah Ibn Janach (995-1050) in Sefer Hashorashim gives the following explanation, based on other pesukim in Tanach in which the word is used associated with people:
    איש עתי: חכם ובקי בדינים, יודע מה שיעשה בשעה
     ההיא, מל׳ יודע בינה לעתים (דה״א י״ב, ל״ג) וכן יודעי
     העתים (אסתר א׳ י״ג). (סה״ש 361).

    "איש עתי -- a scholar and expert in the laws, who knows what to do at the time, from the language of [I Divrei Hayamim 12:33]:

    לג  וּמִבְּנֵי יִשָּׂשכָר, יוֹדְעֵי בִינָה לַעִתִּים, לָדַעַת, מַה-יַּעֲשֶׂה יִשְׂרָאֵל--רָאשֵׁיהֶם מָאתַיִם, וְכָל-אֲחֵיהֶם עַל-פִּיהֶם.  {ס}33 And of the children of Issachar, men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment. {S}

    and [Esther 1:13]:

    יג  וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ, לַחֲכָמִים יֹדְעֵי הָעִתִּים:  כִּי-כֵן, דְּבַר הַמֶּלֶךְ, לִפְנֵי, כָּל-יֹדְעֵי דָּת וָדִין.13 Then the king said to the wise men, who knew the times--for so was the king's manner toward all that knew law and judgment;


    End quote.

    Though to argue against this, there might be a difference between yode'ei haitim and ish iti.

    Friday, April 04, 2014

    posts so far for parashat Metzora

    1. The cause for metzora

    2. YUTorah for Metzora


    1. YUTorah on Tazria - Metzora.

    2. Metzora sources, 2012 edition.

    3. YUTorah on Tazria - Metzora for 2013.


    1. Metzora sources -- further expanded. For example, many more meforshei Rashi.
    2. Should our masoretic text read וְהַנּוֹשֵׂא as malei or chaser? As a followup to the 2010 post, with some more evidence as to Samaritan and Jewish readings, and an interesting tie-in to the Samaritan practices mentioned in the Mishna.
    3. YU Torah on parashat Metzora
    4. Darshening Rashi's wording of לעוף טמא -- Gur Aryeh correctly points out that something is a silly diyuk. Levush HaOrah defends the diyuk, but I agree with Gur Aryeh on this.
    1. Metzora sources -- revamped. With over 100 meforshim on the parsha and haftara, organized by topic.
    2. Are the Samaritans right in how to spell veHanoseiIn parashat Metzora, a Samaritan Torah variant recommends itself, for going against the grain of the typical Samaritan emendation. A gemara darshens like the Samaritan Torah, but against the Masoretic text, and this befuddles Rashi, who is unaware of the Samaritan variant. Or Torah and Minchas Shai step up to the plate and offer explanations of the gemara, forced to varying degree. Still, the most likely answer is that Chazal, here, were darshening the Samaritan text.
    3. The cedar, the strip of crimson, and the hyssop -- Why sprinkle the leper using these three? We might say that this is a chok, and we have know way of knowing. Or that it is a chok, and so there is no purpose, other than to fulfill the arbitrary Command of the King. Or we could suggest that it has some magic, or mystical power. I am not sure can really say that this is a cure for the leper, for this happens after the kohen determines he has been cured, but perhaps this is an additional cure, after the disappearance of the physical symptoms, in which case these items have some natural herbal impact on the condition. (Tanchuma does say לפיכך מתרפא על ידי אזוב.) Or else each of these three might symbolize something. If the last is true, then we can derive meaning from their use in this ceremony.
    • Metzorah sources -- great for preparing shnayim mikra. links by perek and aliyah to an online Mikraos Gedolos, plus a slew of meforshim on the parsha and haftara.
    • The Goat to Azazel
      • On Acharei Mot. In which I relate it the second bird of the korban of the metzorah.
    to be continued...

    Thursday, April 03, 2014

    Ish and Isha

    I'll solve this problem with just a dash of kefirah!

    According to Torah (Bereishit 2:23), the word אשה is derived from איש. Thus:
    כג  וַיֹּאמֶר, הָאָדָם, זֹאת הַפַּעַם עֶצֶם מֵעֲצָמַי, וּבָשָׂר מִבְּשָׂרִי; לְזֹאת יִקָּרֵא אִשָּׁה, כִּי מֵאִישׁ לֻקְחָה-זֹּאת.23 And the man said: 'This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.'

    This is strange anyway because he was an איש and אשה already would be the natural feminine form of the word איש, so positing that it is because she was taking out of איש seems unnecessary. Like פר and פרה, where the פרה was not taken out of the cow. Is this the very first feminine noun?

    But a bigger problem seems that אשה is a cognate of אתתה, and the feminine form of אנש, with the dagesh in the ש representing the assimilated nun. As discussed on the Balashon blog at length (and see the entire post, it is good), quoting Horowitz in How the Hebrew Language Grew:
    Strange and unbelievable as it seems the word אשה has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the word איש. In אשה in the first place a nun has fallen out; the word is really אנשה (insha). The plural נשים gives some hint of that. The really important fact, though, is that the shin of אשה is really a tav. In Aramaic the word for woman is either אתא or more commonly אתתא.
    We could posit all sorts of answers, such as that the etymology was based on assonance, and that is therefore OK. Or that this etymology in the Torah is fanciful. Or that Adam HaRishon didn't learn dikduk in Yeshiva Shem veEiver, because that was considered to secular a subject.

    But here, I will handily solve the problem by asking a pointed question or two about the Biblical text. Where in the world did that yud come from in the word איש? Yud was a consonantal letter, and only later adopted as one of the imot hakeriah (matres lectiones).

    And where in the world did that dagesh come from in the word אשה? The orthography of those points were only introduced post-Talmudically, just like nikkud and trup. Sure, it might well have reflected something about the pronunciation at the time the Masoretes wrote down that dagesh, but that pronunciation does not necessarily go all the way back to the time of the Sinai.

    The dagesh, when it was written, reflected a gemination of the sound, a doubling of the letter, which indeed reflects the assimilation of the nun and relatedly the closing of the short vowel chirik which preceded it, since a short-voweled unstressed syllable needs closing. But why not put in a yud into אישה and remove the dagesh from the shin?

    All of a sudden, the Biblical etymology works!

    So, you are making an etymology of אשה based on later insertions into the text and based on assumptions of the pronunciation and spelling of the words, and then asking about the veracity of the text? That won't work.

    YUTorah for parashat Metzora

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    Sunday, March 30, 2014

    The cause for Metzora

    In the time of Chazal, there was already no actual Metzora. No one had these skin conditions, and no one was declared tamei. Rather, it was in the realm of drosh ve-kabel schar.

    So, when Chazal say something like this:

     Then the kohen shall order, and the person to be cleansed shall take two live, clean birds, a cedar stick, a strip of crimson [wool], and hyssop. ד. וְצִוָּה הַכֹּהֵן וְלָקַח לַמִּטַּהֵר שְׁתֵּי צִפֳּרִים חַיּוֹת טְהֹרוֹת וְעֵץ אֶרֶז וּשְׁנִי תוֹלַעַת וְאֵזֹב:
    clean [birds]: Excluding an unclean bird, [i.e., forbidden to be eaten] (see Chul. 140a). [Why are birds required for this cleansing rite?] Because lesions of tzara’ath come as a result of derogatory speech, which is done by chattering. Therefore, for his cleansing, this person is required to bring birds, which twitter constantly with chirping sounds. — [Arachin 16b] טהרות: פרט לעוף טמא. לפי שהנגעים באין על לשון הרע, שהוא מעשה פטפוטי דברים, לפיכך הוזקקו לטהרתו צפרים, שמפטפטין תמיד בצפצוף קול:
    a cedar stick: Because lesions of tzara’ath come because of haughtiness [symbolized by the tall cedar]. — [Arachin 16a] ועץ ארז: לפי שהנגעים באין על גסות הרוח:
    a strip of crimson [wool], and hyssop: What is the remedy that he may be healed [of his tzara’ath]? He must humble himself from his haughtiness, just as [symbolized by] the תּוֹלַעַת [lit., “a worm,” which infested the berries from which the crimson dye was extracted to color wool], and the [lowly] hyssop. — [Tanchuma 3] ושני תולעת ואזב: מה תקנתו ויתרפא, ישפיל עצמו מגאותו, כתולעת וכאזוב:

    it is good to note that they weren't pointing to a specific person and saying to him / about him that his suffering was due to his own sins, and that these were the specific sins he was guilty of.

    Rather, it is taking a somewhat dry and technical area of halacha with no present-day application and, besides of course discussing the actual laws, moving it to something which people could relate to and derive important life lessons from. Namely, that one should not be haughty, or say lashon hara. And then, for whatever major or minor ills, one can engage in introspection and cure oneself by working on one's middos. I don't think they really intended people to engage, regularly, in extrospection -- "that person is suffering from those ills because he is a bad guy."

    And meanwhile this is different from the sense one might have arrived at by looking at the plain text, in which we don't know why this person got this affliction, there is this unknown spiritual / physical malady, and it is in the hands of the Kohen to pronounce him in one state of the other.

    (Sure, they have Biblical precedent for this. For instance, Miriam, who told lashon hara. But firstly, we might consider that a specific instance of Divine wrath, rather than something from which we can extrapolate from.)


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