Monday, December 13, 2004

Via The Town Crier:
George Bush Lights The Menorah
Starring Alex Katz and Kol Zimra - whats [sic] the video!
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/12/20041209-16.html

Check it out.
I think the little girl is referring to Kol Zimra as funny - she says it both times when they are preparing to sing.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Gmail invites for chanukka

Following the lead of Yutopia, I have several gmail invites. If you would like one, send me an email or leave a comment.

Happy Chanukka!

Mikeitz: Yosef the Democrat

In this parsha, Yosef offers advice to Pharoah about how to manage the impending famine.

Bereishit 41:33-36:
לג וְעַתָּה יֵרֶא פַרְעֹה, אִישׁ נָבוֹן וְחָכָם; וִישִׁיתֵהוּ, עַל-אֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם. 33 Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt.
לד יַעֲשֶׂה פַרְעֹה, וְיַפְקֵד פְּקִדִים עַל-הָאָרֶץ; וְחִמֵּשׁ אֶת-אֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם, בְּשֶׁבַע שְׁנֵי הַשָּׂבָע. 34 Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint overseers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven years of plenty.
לה וְיִקְבְּצוּ, אֶת-כָּל-אֹכֶל הַשָּׁנִים הַטֹּבוֹת, הַבָּאֹת, הָאֵלֶּה; וְיִצְבְּרוּ-בָר תַּחַת יַד-פַּרְעֹה, אֹכֶל בֶּעָרִים--וְשָׁמָרוּ. 35 And let them gather all the food of these good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it.
לו וְהָיָה הָאֹכֶל לְפִקָּדוֹן, לָאָרֶץ, לְשֶׁבַע שְׁנֵי הָרָעָב, אֲשֶׁר תִּהְיֶיןָ בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם; וְלֹא-תִכָּרֵת הָאָרֶץ, בָּרָעָב. 36 And the food shall be for a store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine.'
At issue is the word וְחִמֵּשׁ, wəḥimēš. The translation given above is "and take up the fifth part," but this is not the only possible translation - as we will see, it could also mean to organize.

"Taking a fifth" is attractive because of what occurs a bit later. During the years of famine, Yosef sells the Egyptians food, eventually in exchange for their lands and their very persons. In Bereishit 47:23-26:
כג וַיֹּאמֶר יוֹסֵף אֶל-הָעָם, הֵן קָנִיתִי אֶתְכֶם הַיּוֹם וְאֶת-אַדְמַתְכֶם לְפַרְעֹה; הֵא-לָכֶם זֶרַע, וּזְרַעְתֶּם אֶת-הָאֲדָמָה. 23 Then Joseph said unto the people: 'Behold, I have bought you this day and your land for Pharaoh. Lo, here is seed for you, and ye shall sow the land.
כד וְהָיָה, בַּתְּבוּאֹת, וּנְתַתֶּם חֲמִישִׁית, לְפַרְעֹה; וְאַרְבַּע הַיָּדֹת יִהְיֶה לָכֶם לְזֶרַע הַשָּׂדֶה וּלְאָכְלְכֶם, וְלַאֲשֶׁר בְּבָתֵּיכֶם--וְלֶאֱכֹל לְטַפְּכֶם. 24 And it shall come to pass at the ingatherings, that ye shall give a fifth unto Pharaoh, and four parts shall be your own, for seed of the field, and for your food, and for them of your households, and for food for your little ones.'
כה וַיֹּאמְרוּ, הֶחֱיִתָנוּ; נִמְצָא-חֵן בְּעֵינֵי אֲדֹנִי, וְהָיִינוּ עֲבָדִים לְפַרְעֹה. 25 And they said: 'Thou hast saved our lives. Let us find favour in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh's bondmen.'
כו וַיָּשֶׂם אֹתָהּ יוֹסֵף לְחֹק עַד-הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה עַל-אַדְמַת מִצְרַיִם, לְפַרְעֹה--לַחֹמֶשׁ: רַק אַדְמַת הַכֹּהֲנִים, לְבַדָּם--לֹא הָיְתָה, לְפַרְעֹה. 26 And Joseph made it a statute concerning the land of Egypt unto this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth; only the land of the priests alone became not Pharaoh's.
Here it is clear that it means taking 1/5th. On the other hand, if Yosef taxes them 1/5 after acquiring all the Egyptians, how was he able to to tax them this amount before, and what does he (that is, Pharaoh) gain? (Prehaps we can say he instituted/raised taxes temporarily because of state emergency, and later, by acquiring all of Egypt for Pharaoh, he solidified this tax.)

Rashi on Bereishit 41:34:

וחמש. כתרגומו ויזרז וכן וחמושים:
As its targum (Onkelos) "and organize/encourage" and so too וחמושים.

Rashi, (following Onkelos) refers to Shemot 13:18:

יח וַיַּסֵּב אֱלֹהִים אֶת-הָעָם דֶּרֶךְ הַמִּדְבָּר, יַם-סוּף; וַחֲמֻשִׁים עָלוּ בְנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל, מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם. 18 But God led the people about, by the way of the wilderness by the Red Sea; and the children of Israel went up armed out of the land of Egypt.

Rashbam says it means taking 1/5, thus taking twice what is due the king (citing sefer Shmuel as proof that normally 1/10 goes to the king), and later, Yosef solidified this tax:

ויפקד פקידים וגו' וחמש.
שהממונים יגבו חומש כל התבואות לצורך המלך
אשר משפטו בשאר שנים לעשר
כדכתיב בשמואל את שדותיכם יעשר
עתה יטול פי שנים
וכמו כן הנהיג יוסף לבסוף
עַל-אַדְמַת מִצְרַיִם, לְפַרְעֹה--לַחֹמֶשׁ
"and let him appoint overseers ... and take up the fifth part":
That the overseers should collect 1/5 of all the crops for the needs of the king
where the general law in other years was to take 1/10
as it states in Shmuel "and your fields ... he will take 1/10."
Now you will take twice that
And similarly did Yosef do at the end (Bereishit 47:26)
"[And Joseph made it a statute] concerning the land of Egypt unto this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth;"

Rashbam is referring to 1 Shmuel 8:14-15:

י וַיֹּאמֶר שְׁמוּאֵל, אֵת כָּל-דִּבְרֵי יְהוָה, אֶל-הָעָם, הַשֹּׁאֲלִים מֵאִתּוֹ מֶלֶךְ. {ס} 10 And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king. {S}
יא וַיֹּאמֶר--זֶה יִהְיֶה מִשְׁפַּט הַמֶּלֶךְ, אֲשֶׁר יִמְלֹךְ עֲלֵיכֶם: אֶת-בְּנֵיכֶם יִקָּח, וְשָׂם לוֹ בְּמֶרְכַּבְתּוֹ וּבְפָרָשָׁיו, וְרָצוּ, לִפְנֵי מֶרְכַּבְתּוֹ. 11 And he said: 'This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: he will take your sons, and appoint them unto him, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and they shall run before his chariots.
יב וְלָשׂוּם לוֹ, שָׂרֵי אֲלָפִים וְשָׂרֵי חֲמִשִּׁים; וְלַחֲרֹשׁ חֲרִישׁוֹ וְלִקְצֹר קְצִירוֹ, וְלַעֲשׂוֹת כְּלֵי-מִלְחַמְתּוֹ וּכְלֵי רִכְבּוֹ. 12 And he will appoint them unto him for captains of thousands, and captains of fifties; and to plow his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and the instruments of his chariots.
יג וְאֶת-בְּנוֹתֵיכֶם, יִקָּח, לְרַקָּחוֹת וּלְטַבָּחוֹת, וּלְאֹפוֹת. 13 And he will take your daughters to be perfumers, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.
יד וְאֶת-שְׂדוֹתֵיכֶם וְאֶת-כַּרְמֵיכֶם וְזֵיתֵיכֶם, הַטּוֹבִים--יִקָּח; וְנָתַן, לַעֲבָדָיו. 14 And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.
טו וְזַרְעֵיכֶם וְכַרְמֵיכֶם, יַעְשֹׂר; וְנָתַן לְסָרִיסָיו, וְלַעֲבָדָיו. 15 And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.

Ibn Ezra suggests the same:

וחמש. שיקנה החומש
wəḥimēš: that he should take the fifth part.
So too Targum Pseudo-Yonatan says take one part of five.

Rabeinu Bachya and Or HaChayim give both explanations as possibilities.

Let's see what Speiser writes in the Anchor Bible Genesis:

Speiser, Anchor Bible Genesis: composite image Posted by Hello
As you can see, he adopts the "organize" translation over the "1/5." I wonder, though, at his labeling of "to take a fifth part" as traditional, as opposed to the view advanced by Ehrlich. What Ehrlich proposes it the same as Targum Onkelos and Rashi say (not to mention Or Hachayim and Rabeinu Bachya), and this is truly traditional - most Jews who study the weekly parsha do so with Targum Onkelos and Rashi. Perhaps one can ascribe this to the desire to be creative and non-traditional, for otherwise what do you have to offer. (By traditional he perhaps means the King James Bible, which translates as 1/5, but still - Onkelos and Rashi are hardly non-traditional.)

Material for Yerushalmi shiur this Shabbat

Absolute (singular): a man, a canal, a king, a queen
Definite (singular): the man, the canal, the king, the queen

מֶלֶךְ – melek - a king
מַלְכָּא – malka(`) - the king
מַלְכָּה – malka(h) - a queen
מַלְכְּתָא – malketa(h) - the queen

nedarim
דף ו, ב פרק ב הלכה ב גמרא
?איש מהו להתפיש לו נזירות בלשון אשה
תמן אמרין הא נזירה איעבר
אשה מהו להתפיש לה נזירות בלשון איש
ר יוסי כל עצמו אינו קרוי נזירות אלא בלשון אישא"
אִישׁ אוֹ אִשָּׁה כִּי יַפְלִא לִנְדֹּר נֶדֶר

nedarim
נדרים משנה א
כל כינויי נדרים כנדרים חרמים כחרמים שבועת כשבועות נזירות כנזירות

nazir 1a
נזיר משנה א
כל כינוי נזירות כנזירות
...
נזיר נזיק נזיח פזיח ה"ז נזיר

yerushalmi nedarim 3b
אמר ר' יוסי
נראין הדברים במקומות אחרים
אבל במקום שקוראין לנזיר נזיק
כן אני אומר נזיר פסילים לא יהא נזיר

nazir 1a
דף א, א פרק א הלכה א משנה כל כינוי נזירות כנזירות האומר אהא ה"ז נזיר או אהא נאוה נזיר נזיק נזיח פזיח ה"ז נזיר הריני כזה הריני מסלסל הרי אני מכלכל הרי עלי לשלח פרע הרי זה נזיר הרי עלי צפרים ר' מאיר אומר נזיר וחכמים אומרים אינו נזיר:

nazir 1a
דף א, א פרק א הלכה א גמרא כתיב (במדבר ל) איש כי ידור נדר מה תלמוד לומר נדר אלא מיכן שכינויי נדרים כנדרים (שם) או השבע מה תלמוד לומר שבועה אלא מיכן שכינוי שבועה כשבועה גר"ש ראש"ה דנדרי"ם קדמית"א ע"ד דמט"י אשכח

nazir 1b - importance of comparative sugyology
אמר ר' יוסי נראין דברים במקומות אחרים אבל במקום שקוראין לנזיר נזיק אנו אומרים נזיר פסילים אינו נזיר


pattern: mishna. two explanations: Bar Kappara and Rabbi Laizer. Discuss Bar Kappara. Inspect Rabbi Laizer. Digress to safek vs. sfek sfeka. and then back to Rabbi Laizer. Then dispute between Chavrayya and Rabbi Yossi about why not to do nisuin on Friday or motza`ei Shabbat. Proof to Chavraya, digression to Shmuel and discussion of Shmuel, and digression of what else not to do on erev Shabbat. Once talking about taanat betulim, discuss petach patuach, and what follows is a list of things related to safak sota.

מסכת כתובות פרק א
דף א, א פרק א הלכה א משנה
בתולה נישאת ביום הרביעי
ואלמנה ביום החמישי
שפעמים בשבת בתי דינין יושבין בעיירות ביום השני וביום החמישי
שאם היה לו טענת בתולים היה משכים לבית דין

דף א, א פרק א הלכה א גמרא
בר קפרא אמר מפני שכתוב בם ברכה
והלא אין כתיב ברכה אלא בחמישי ובששי בלבד
בחמישי בעופות ובדגים
בששי באדם וחוה
אמר רבי יוסי טעמא דבר קפרא
רביעי אור חמשיי חמישי אור ששי
והלא כתיב ברכה בשביעי
אין כתיב ברכה בבריות אלא ביום
מפני שאין כתיב ברכה בבריות
הא אילו הוה כתיב ברכה בבריות היתה נישאת בשבת
לא כן תני לא יבעול אדם בעילה בתחילה בשבת מפני שהוא עושה חבורה
אלא כאחרים מפני שאחרים מתירין כלום
אחרים מתירין אלא בשכנס
שעד שלא כנס אינו זכאי לא במציאתה ולא במעשה ידיה ולא בהפר נדריה
משכנס זכאי במציאתה ובמעשה ידיה ובהפר נדריה
אם אומר את כן נמצאתה כקונה קניין בשבת
אמר ר' מנא הדא אמרה
אילין דכנסין אמרלן צריך לכונסה מבעוד יום שלא יהא כקונה קניין בשבת
רבי לעזר מייתי לה טעם דמתני'
שאם היה לו טענת בתולים היה משכים לבית דין
מתניתא מסייעא לרבי לעזר
מן הסכנה והילך נהגו לשאת בשלישי ולא מיחו בידן חכמים
בשני אין שומעין לו
ואם מפני האונס מותר
מהו מפני האונס
מפני הכשפים
מה בין שני לשלישי? לא

דף א, ב פרק א הלכה א גמרא
דומה משתהא יום אחד למשתהא שני ימים
וישתהא שני ימים
שלא יערב עליו המקח
ויערב עליו המקח
לית יכול
דאמר רבי אילא בשם ר' אלעזר מצא הפתח פתוח אסור לקיימה משום ספק סוטה
וחש לומר שמא אנוסה היא
קול יוצא לאנוסה
ואפי' תחוש לה משום אנוסה
לא ספק אחד ספק אנוסה ספק פתוחה מדבר תורה להחמיר
אמר רבי יוסי ואפילו תחוש לה משום אנוסה
שתי ספיקות: ספק אנוסה ספק פתוחה ספק משנתארסה ספק עד שלא תארס
שתי ספיקות מדבר תורה להקל
קידשה בחופה לית ליה באילין קנסייא
אמרין רבי מתניה עבד לברתיה כן
על דעתיה דר' לעזר
במקום שבתי דינין יושבין בכל יום תינשא בכל יום
ובמקום שאין בתי דינין יושבין בכל יום לא תינשא כל עיקר
שלא לעקור זמנו של רביעי
ויעקור זמנו של רביעי
אף הוא אית לה כהדא דתני בר קפרא
בר קפרא אמר מפני שכתוב בהן ברכה
ותינשא בראשון וישכים לבית דין בשני
אית דבעי מימר שלא לעקור זמנו של רביעי
ואית דבעי מימר כהדא דתני בר קפרא
דבר קפרא אמר מפני שכתוב בהן ברכה
שוין שאינה נישאת לא בערב שבת ולא במוצאי שבת
לא בערב שבת מפני כבוד שבת
ולא במוצאי שבת
חברייא אמרין מפני הטורח
רבי יוסי אומר

דף ב, א פרק א הלכה א גמרא מפני כבוד שבת
מתניתא מסייעא לחברייא
מפני מה אמרו בתולה נישאת ביום הרביעי?

כדי שיהא אדם מתקין צרכיו ג' ימים זה אחר זה
ר' בא בר כהן אמר קומי רבי יוסי רבי אחא בשם רבי יעקב בר אידי
אסור לאדם לישא אשה בערב שבת
הדא דאת אמר לעשות סעודת אירוסין הא לארוס יארס
שמואל אמר אפילו בתשעה באב יארס שלא יקדמנו אחר
מחלפא שיטתא דשמואל תמן הוא אמר (תהילים סח) אלהים מושיב יחידים ביתה וגו'
(תהילים סג) במאזנים לעלות המה מהבל יחד
ובההוא אמר אכין!
אלא שלא יקדמנו אחר בתפילה ואף על פי כן לא קיימה
רבי חזקיה רבי חייה בשם רבי אבהו אמר אסור לדון דיני ממונות בערב שבת
והא מתניתא פליגא לפיכך אין דנין לא בערב שבת ולא בערב יום טוב
דיני נפשות הא דיני ממונות דנין!
ותני רבי חייה כן
דנין דיני ממונות בערב שבת אבל לא דיני נפשות
כאן להלכה כאן לדבר תורה
רבי יונה בשם רבי קריספא בוגרת כחבית פתוחה היא
הדא דאת אמר שלא להפסידה מכתובתה אבל לקיימה אינו רשאי משום ספק סוטה
ואתייא כיי דרבי חנינא
דרבי חנינא אמר מעשה באשה אחת שלא נמצאו לה בתולים ובא מעשה לפני רבי
אמר לה איכן הן אמרה ליה מעלותיו של בית אבא היו גבוהין ונשרו והאמינה רבי
הדא דתימר שלא להפסידה מכתובתה אבל לקיימה אינו רשאי משום ספק סוטה
ואתייא כיי דתנינן תמן בתולה אלמנה גרושה וחלוצה מן האירוסין כתובתן מאתים ויש להן טענת בתולים
בתולה אלמנה גרושה חלוצה מן הנשואין כתובתן מנה ואין להן טענת בתולים
הדא דאת אמר בכתובת מנה מאתים אבל לקיימה אינו רשאי משום ספק סוטה
ואתייא כיי דתנינן תמן האוכל אצל חמיו ביהודה שלא בעדים
אינו יכול לטעון טענת בתולים מפני שהוא מתייחד עמה
הדא דמר לכתובת מנה מאתים אבל לקיימה אינו רשאי מפני ספק סוטה
ואתייא כיי דתנינן הנושא את האשה ולא מצא לה בתולים
היא אומרת משאירסתני נאנסתי ונסתחפה שדך
והוא אומר לא כי אלא עד שלא אירסתיך והיה מקחי מקח טעות
הדא דמר לכתובת מנה מאתים אבל לקיימה אינו רשאי משום ספק סוטה
ואתייא כיי

דף ב, ב פרק א הלכה א גמרא
דתנינן תמן היא אומרת מוכת עץ אני והוא אומר לא כי אלא דרוסת איש את
הדא דתימר בכתובת מנה מאתים אבל לקיימה אינו רשאי משום ספק סוטה
וכולהן מן ההיא דא"ר הילא בשם ר' אלעזר מצא הפתח פתוח אסור לקיימה משום ספק סוטה

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Bavli vs. Yerushalmi

The Rif, at the tail end of Eruvin. He previously explained that he believes (and demonstrates) that the conclusion of the gemara is not in accordance with Ulla, who held that knocking on a door is forbidden on Shabbat. He then writes:
וחזינן למקצת רבואתא דסבירא להו כעולא
וסמכי אגמרא דבני מערבא
דגרסינן התם במסכת יו"ט
אמר רבי אלעזר כל משמיע קול אסורין בשבת
ר' אלעא איעצר בסידרא
סליק לביתא ואשכחון דמכין
דמך על תרעא בגין דלא מקש בשבתא
ואמרינן נמי רבי ירמיה שרי מקש על תרעא בשבתא
א"ל אביי מאן שרי לך
ואנן לא סבירא לן הכי
דכיון דסוגיין דגמרא דילן להתירא
לא איכפת לן במאי דאסרי בגמרא דבני מערבא
דעל גמרא דילן סמכינן
דבתרא הוא ואינהו הוי בקיאי בגמ' דבני מערבא טפי מינן
ואי לאו דקים להו דהאי מימרא דבני מערבא
לאו דסמכא הוא
לא קא שרו ליה אינהו
"And we see that a minority of rabbis that hold like Ulla
And they rely on the Yerushalmi
That we are gores there in masechet yom tov:
Rabbi Elazar said: All that produces a sound is forbidden on shabbat.
Rabbi Ilai was delayed in the bet midrash (study hall)
He left to go to his house and saw they were sleeping.
He slept at the gave in order not to knock on shabbat.
And we say also that Rabbi Yirmiyah permitted knocking on the gate on shabbat.
Abbaye {typo for Rav Acha} said to him: who permitted it to you?
And we do not think so.
For since our sugya in our gemara {bavli} permits
It matters not to us that they forbid in the Yerushalmi
For we rely on our own gemara
For it is later, and they {the amoraim and redactors of bavli} were experts in Yerushalmi more than us
And if they did not establish that this statement of the Yerushalmi is not to be relied upon
they would not have permitted it to us."

Friday, December 03, 2004

Vayeishev #5: Yaakov/Yosef parallels

In an earlier post, I mentioned the parallels between Yosef and Esav. But, a midrash highlights the many similarities between Yaakov and Yosef.
מדרש רבה בראשית פרשה פד

ר שמואל בר נחמן
אלה תולדות יעקב יוסף
לא היה צריך קרא למימר כן
אלא אלה תולדות יעקב ראובן
אלא מה ת"ל יוסף
אלא שכל מה שאירע לזה אירע לזה
מה זה נולד מהול אף זה נולד מהול
מה זה אמו עקרה אף זה אמו עקרה
מה זה אמו ילדה שנים אף זה אמו ילדה שנים
מה זה בכור אף זה בכור
מה זה נתקשה אמו בלידה אף זה נתקשה אמו בשעת לידה
מה זה אחיו שונא אותו אף זה אחיו שונאים אותו
מה זה אחיו בקש להרגו אף זה בקשו אחיו להרגו
מה זה רועה אף זה רועה
זה נשטם וזה נשטם
זה נגנב שתי פעמים וזה נגנב שתי פעמים
זה נתברך בעושר וזה נתברך בעושר
זה יצא לחוצה לארץ וזה יצא לחוצה לארץ
זה נשא אשה מחוצה לארץ וזה נשא אשה מחוצה לארץ
זה הוליד בנים בחוצה לארץ וזה הוליד בנים בחוצה לארץ
זה ליווהו מלאכים וזה ליווהו מלאכים
זה נתגדל על ידי חלום וזה נתגדל ע"י חלום
זה נתברך בית חמיו בשבילו וזה נתברך בית חמיו בשבילו
זה ירד למצרים וזה ירד למצרים
זה כלה את הרעב וזה כלה את הרעב
זה משביע וזה משביע
זה מצוה וזה מצוה
זה מת במצרים וזה מת במצרים
זה נחנט וזה נחנט
זה העלו עצמותיו וזה העלו עצמותיו



Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachman said:
אֵלֶּה תֹּלְדוֹת יַעֲקֹב, יוֹסֵף - "These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph..." (Bereishit 37:2)
{J: It proceeds with the narrative, but Toldot is often used to introduce geneological data.}
It should not have said this
But rather "These are the generations of Jacob. Reuven..."
Rather, what is it teaching us by saying Yosef?
Only that all that happened to this one (Yaakov) happened to this one.
Just as this one was born circumcised, so too this one was born circumcised.
{Both of these from drashot from pesukim. Yaakov from Bereishit 25:27:
וְיַעֲקֹב אִישׁ תָּם, יֹשֵׁב אֹהָלִים. - "and Yaakov was a complete man, dwelling in tents." and Yosef somehow from אֵלֶּה תֹּלְדוֹת יַעֲקֹב, יוֹסֵף. See Yalkut Shimoni Yirmiyahu and Avot DeRabbi Natan 2:5. The Yosef bit seems a bit circular though, if we are deducing Yosef's being born circumcised from this very pasuk!}
Just as this one's mother (Rivka) was barren, so to this one's mother was barren (Rachel).
Just as this one's mother gave birth to two (Yaakov and Esav), so too this one's mother gave birth to two (Yosef and Binyamin).
Just as this one was a bechor (firstborn) {since Yaakov bought the birthright from Esav} so was this one a bechor (Yosef was the firstborn of his mother Rachel).
Just as this one's mother had difficulty in her pregnancy {such that Rivka went to inquire of Hashem why it was so bad} so too this one had difficulties as the time of childbirth {Rachel, giving birth to Binyamin.}
Just as this one's brother {Esav} hated him, so too this one's brothers hated him.
Just as this one's brother {Esav} sought to kill him, so too this one's brothers sought to kill him.
Just as this one was a shepherd {for Lavan}, so to was this one a shepherd {with his brothers the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah.}
This one was hated {Easv bore a grudge, secretly hating Yaakov}, and this one was hated.
This one was stolen twice (Yaakov in reference to Lavan, in Bereishit 31: גנובתי יום וגנובתי לילה), and this one was stolen twice (Yosef describing how how was sold says כי גנב גנבתי ).
This one was blessed with wealth {by Lavan} and this one was blessed with wealth {in Egypt},
This one was out of the land {to Charan} and this one went out of the land {to Egypt}.
This one married a woman from out of the land {all of Yaakov's wives} and this one married a wife from outside the land {Osnat.}
This one fathered sons outside the land of Israel, and this one fathered sons outside the land.
This one angels accompanied him, and this one angels accompanied him.
{Two midrashim: One that Yaakov was accompanied by angels on the way to and on the way from Charan, based on olim veyordim bo as occurs in his dream. Within the text, where he sees angels in his dream on the way there and encounters the host of angels from Hashem on the way back. The second, that the man Yosef met on the way when he searched from his brothers in Shechem were actually three separate angels.}
This one became great by means of a dream {of the ladder, or perhaps one of Yaakov many other dreams,} and this one became great by means of a dream {either Yosef's own dreams, or that of the baker and butler, or that of Pharaoh.
This one, his father in law's house was blessed for his sake {Lavan}, and this one, his father-in-law's house was blessed for his sake {assuming that Osnat daughter of Poti-fera is the daughter of Potifar, and we read that Potifar's house was blessed for his sake.}
This one descended to Egypt and this one descended to Egypt.
This one ended the famine {a midrash that when Yaakov came the famine in Egypt ended} and this one ended the famine.
This one sustained others and this one sustained others.
This one commanded {what should be done to his body after death} and this one commanded.
This one died in Egypt and this one died in Egypt.
This one was embalmed, and this one was embalmed.
This one they took his bones out of Egypt and this one they took his bones out of Egypt.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Vayeishev #4: Shortsighted Foresight

Why did they do it? Why did Potifar's wife go after Yosef? Why did Korach lead a rebellion against Moshe and Aharon? The obvious answer is for lust, and for want of power. The midrash suggests, in two separate locations, that they were both acting with some foreknowledge, though they did not have sufficient intel.

First, Potifar's wife:

midrash rabba, parasha 85 siman 2:

ב ויהי בעת ההיא
ולא היה צריך קרייה למימר אלא ויוסף הורד מצרימה
ומפני מה הסמיך פרשה זו לזו?
רבי אלעזר ור' יוחנן
רבי אלעזר אמר כדי לסמוך ירידה לירידה
רבי יוחנן אמר כדי לסמוך הכר להכר
ר"ש בר נחמן אמר כדי לסמוך מעשה תמר למעשה אשתו של פוטיפר:
מה זו לשם שמים אף זו לשם שמים
דא"ר יהושע בן לוי רואה היתה באסטרולוגין שלה שהיא עתידה להעמיד ממנו בן
ולא היתה יודעת אם ממנה אם מבתה
הה"ד (שם מז) מודיעים לחדשים מאשר יבואו עליך
ר' איבו אמר מאשר ולא כל אשר

"And it was at that time..."

{Note: this is the first pasuk of Bereishit 38:
א וַיְהִי בָּעֵת הַהִוא, וַיֵּרֶד יְהוּדָה מֵאֵת אֶחָיו; וַיֵּט עַד-אִישׁ עֲדֻלָּמִי, וּשְׁמוֹ חִירָה. 1 And it came to pass at that time, that Judah went down from his brethren, and turned in to a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah.
which begins the entire story of Yehuda and Tamar.}

And the Scriptures only needed to say "and Yosef was brought down to Egypt."
{Note: This is the first pasuk of the Bereishit 39:

א וְיוֹסֵף, הוּרַד מִצְרָיְמָה; וַיִּקְנֵהוּ פּוֹטִיפַר סְרִיס פַּרְעֹה שַׂר הַטַּבָּחִים, אִישׁ מִצְרִי, מִיַּד הַיִּשְׁמְעֵאלִים, אֲשֶׁר הוֹרִדֻהוּ שָׁמָּה. 1 And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh's, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hand of the Ishmaelites, that had brought him down thither.

This resumes the Yosef story where it left off, two prakim earlier. The question is thus, why place the story of Yehuda and Tamar right here, in the middle of the Yosef narrative?}

And for what cause was this narrative juxtoposed with that?
Rabbi Elazer and Rabbi Yochanan.
Rabbi Elazer says, to connect one descending to another descending.
{Either just the words or act - that both Yehuda and Yosef went down - or more likely, that the sale of Yosef, of which Yehuda played a part, causing Yosef to go down to Egypt, was linked with Yehuda separating from his brothers and all these events (including losing his wife and kids, and/or coming to shame).}
Rabbi Yochanan said, in order to link one הכר - "recognize" to הכר.
{The brothers, and according to the midrash which links them, perhaps Yehuda specifically, present Yosef's goat-blood-stained coat to Yaakov and ask if he recognizes it, and Yaakov responds by crying that his son has been devoured.
This is in Bereishit 37:32-33:

לב וַיְשַׁלְּחוּ אֶת-כְּתֹנֶת הַפַּסִּים, וַיָּבִיאוּ אֶל-אֲבִיהֶם, וַיֹּאמְרוּ, זֹאת מָצָאנוּ: הַכֶּר-נָא, הַכְּתֹנֶת בִּנְךָ הִוא--אִם-לֹא. 32 and they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father; and said: 'This have we found. Know now whether it is thy son's coat or not.'
לג וַיַּכִּירָהּ וַיֹּאמֶר כְּתֹנֶת בְּנִי, חַיָּה רָעָה אֲכָלָתְהוּ; טָרֹף טֹרַף, יוֹסֵף. 33 And he knew it, and said: 'It is my son's coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt torn in pieces.'
The same language, הַכֶּר-נָא, is turned against him. When Tamar is on trial, she presents the tokens Yehuda had given her earlier, when he thought she was a harlot. In Bereishit 38:25-26:

כה הִוא מוּצֵאת, וְהִיא שָׁלְחָה אֶל-חָמִיהָ לֵאמֹר, לְאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר-אֵלֶּה לּוֹ, אָנֹכִי הָרָה; וַתֹּאמֶר, הַכֶּר-נָא--לְמִי הַחֹתֶמֶת וְהַפְּתִילִים וְהַמַּטֶּה, הָאֵלֶּה. 25 When she was brought forth, she sent to her father-in-law, saying: 'By the man, whose these are, am I with child'; and she said: 'Discern, I pray thee, whose are these, the signet, and the cords, and the staff.'
כו וַיַּכֵּר יְהוּדָה, וַיֹּאמֶר צָדְקָה מִמֶּנִּי, כִּי-עַל-כֵּן לֹא-נְתַתִּיהָ, לְשֵׁלָה בְנִי; וְלֹא-יָסַף עוֹד, לְדַעְתָּהּ. 26 And Judah acknowledged them, and said: 'She is more righteous than I; forasmuch as I gave her not to Shelah my son.' And he knew her again no more.
Here one might say this is to link the two words, but it is also pretty clear here that the aim is to link the punishment to the crime - Yehuda endured this because of what he did to Yosef, and the parallel language tells us this, but just so we don't miss the point, the Yehuda narrative is inserted in the midst of the Yosef one, and indeed just after Yehuda says הַכֶּר-נָא. (It is in fact not just the words, but the deducing something about a person on the basis of objects of that person.)
}
Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachman said, in order to juxtopose the story of Tamar with the story of Potifar's wife.
{This is novel. The previous two, who were introduced as the two opposing sides, are all trying to link punishment to Yehuda with what was done to Yosef, with Rabbi Eliezer linking the middle story forward, to the first pasuk of the continuation, and Rabbi Yochanan linking it backwards to the phrase הַכֶּר-נָא. Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachman is linking it forward, but ignoring the issue of the sale of Yosef, focusing instead on two different personages.
}
Just as this one {Tamar} acted for the sake of heaven, so did this one {Potifar's wife} act for the sake of heaven.
For Rabbi Yehuda ben Levi said that she {Potifar's wife} saw via her astrology that she was in the future to establish from him a son.
And she did not know if from her, or if from her daughter.
This is as is written in Yeshaya 47:13: מוֹדִעִים לֶחֳדָשִׁים, מֵאֲשֶׁר יָבֹאוּ עָלָיִךְ - "the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from the things that shall come upon thee."

יב עִמְדִי-נָא בַחֲבָרַיִךְ וּבְרֹב כְּשָׁפַיִךְ, בַּאֲשֶׁר יָגַעַתְּ מִנְּעוּרָיִךְ; אוּלַי תּוּכְלִי הוֹעִיל, אוּלַי תַּעֲרוֹצִי. 12 Stand now with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries, wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth; if so be thou shalt be able to profit, if so be thou mayest prevail.
יג נִלְאֵית, בְּרֹב עֲצָתָיִךְ; יַעַמְדוּ-נָא וְיוֹשִׁיעֻךְ הברו (הֹבְרֵי) שָׁמַיִם, הַחֹזִים בַּכּוֹכָבִים, מוֹדִעִים לֶחֳדָשִׁים, מֵאֲשֶׁר יָבֹאוּ עָלָיִךְ. 13 Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels; let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from the things that shall come upon thee.
{Thus, the astrologers and stargazers are not effective.}
Rabbi Aibo said: מֵאֲשֶׁר - "from the things [that shall come upon you]" {focusing on the letter מ, meaning "from"} and not all the things.
Thus, some of what she saw was true, but she did not see well enough. While hindsight is 20/20, foresight is not always so.

Two final points before we move on. First, where do we see Yosef married to Potifar's daughter? This is a result of equating Potifar with Potifera Kohen On. As we read in parshat Mikeitz, in Bereishit 41:45:

מה וַיִּקְרָא פַרְעֹה שֵׁם-יוֹסֵף, צָפְנַת פַּעְנֵחַ, וַיִּתֶּן-לוֹ אֶת-אָסְנַת בַּת-פּוֹטִי פֶרַע כֹּהֵן אֹן, לְאִשָּׁה; וַיֵּצֵא יוֹסֵף, עַל-אֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם. 45 And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphenath-paneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Poti-phera priest of On. And Joseph went out over the land of Egypt.--

Secondly, how do we know that she saw this with her astrology? We saw the juxtoposition, and this was ascribed to the cause of wishing to show she was also acting for the sake of heaven, but Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachman was basing himself on a statement by Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi that she saw this with her astrology. The statement in Yeshaya just talks about the limits of astrology, and not about Potifar's wife, though perhaps we might interpret the surrounding psukim to be directed towards Potifar's wife.

The truth, I think, is much simpler. The problems with Potifar's wife begin in Bereishit 39:7:
ז וַיְהִי, אַחַר הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה, וַתִּשָּׂא אֵשֶׁת-אֲדֹנָיו אֶת-עֵינֶיהָ, אֶל-יוֹסֵף; וַתֹּאמֶר, שִׁכְבָה עִמִּי. 7 And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said: 'Lie with me.'
The translation renders וַתִּשָּׂא אֵשֶׁת-אֲדֹנָיו אֶת-עֵינֶיהָ, אֶל-יוֹסֵף as "that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph," but literally, it means "the wife of his master lifted up her eyes, to Yosef." Thus, the midrash takes the phrase hyperliterally, to mean that she lifted up her eyes to the heavens to see what was destined in the stars, regarding Yosef.

Let us now turn to the second person, Korach. The following, from Midrash Tanchuma on Korach, siman 5, is a drash on Bamidbar 16:7, and specifically on the phrase רַב-לָכֶם, בְּנֵי לֵוִי:

ו זֹאת, עֲשׂוּ: קְחוּ-לָכֶם מַחְתּוֹת, קֹרַח וְכָל-עֲדָתוֹ. 6 This do: take you censors, Korah, and all his company;
ז וּתְנוּ בָהֵן אֵשׁ וְשִׂימוּ עֲלֵיהֶן קְטֹרֶת לִפְנֵי יְהוָה, מָחָר, וְהָיָה הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר-יִבְחַר יְהוָה, הוּא הַקָּדוֹשׁ; רַב-לָכֶם, בְּנֵי לֵוִי. 7 and put fire therein, and put incense upon them before the LORD to-morrow; and it shall be that the man whom the LORD doth choose, he shall be holy; ye take too much upon you, ye sons of Levi.'

The midrash says:
וקרח שפקח היה, מה ראה לשטות הזו.
אלא עינו הטעתו.
ראה שלשלת גדולה עומדת הימנו,
שמואל ששקול כנגד משה ואהרן,
שנאמר, משה ואהרן בכהניו ושמואל בקוראי שמו (תהל' צט ו),
ועשרים וארבעה משמרות עומדות מבני בניו שכולן מתנבאין ברוח הקדש,
שנאמר, כל אלה בנים להימן חוזה המלך בדברי האלהים להרים קרן (דה"א כה ה).
אמר, אפשר הגדולה הזו עתידה לעמוד ממני ואני אובד (אותה).
ולא ראה יפה, לפי שבניו היו עושין תשובה ועומדין מהן,
ומשה היה רואה יפה.
לכך נשתתף לבא לאותה חזקה ששמע מפי משה
שכולן אובדין ואחד פלט, שנאמר, והיה האיש אשר יבחר ה' הוא הקדוש
And Korach, who was an intelligent person, what did he see that led him to this nonsense?
Rather, his eye misled him.
He saw the chain of greatness coming from him:
Shmuel who is measured against Moshe and Aharon {J: who, after all, are those who Korach was fighting against.}
As is stated in Tehillim 99:6:
מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן, בְּכֹהֲנָיו, וּשְׁמוּאֵל, בְּקֹרְאֵי שְׁמוֹ
"Moses and Aaron among His priests, and Samuel among them that call upon His name..."
And the 24 mishmarot from his descendants who all prophesied with ruahaqodeš.
As is stated in 1 Chronicles 25:5:
ה כָּל-אֵלֶּה בָנִים לְהֵימָן, חֹזֵה הַמֶּלֶךְ בְּדִבְרֵי הָאֱלֹהִים--לְהָרִים קָרֶן; וַיִּתֵּן הָאֱלֹהִים לְהֵימָן, בָּנִים אַרְבָּעָה עָשָׂר--וּבָנוֹת שָׁלוֹשׁ. 5 all these were the sons of Heman the king's seer in the things pertaining to God, to lift up the horn. And God gave to Heman fourteen sons and three daughters.

{J: and the midrash seems to be applying the word חֹזֵה, seer , to all the sons instead of to the father. Many Psalms in Tehillim are attributed to בני קרח - which we can take as the sons of=descendants of Korach.}
He {Korach} said: is it possible that greatness will in the future emerge from me, and I will {now} be lost?
And he {Korach} did not see well,
for his sons did repentance {and did not perish} and {the future great ones} were established from them.
And Moshe saw well.
And therefore {because he did not see well} he {Korach} combined with them on the basis of the statement by Moshe
That everyone {who brought incense} would be lost and one would survive, as it states {in pasuk 7, cited above}: וְהָיָה הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר-יִבְחַר יְהוָה, הוּא הַקָּדוֹשׁ - "and it shall be that the man whom the LORD doth choose, he shall be holy."
Where do we see the sons of Korach did teshuva and survived? We read in Bemidbar 26:

ט וּבְנֵי אֱלִיאָב, נְמוּאֵל וְדָתָן וַאֲבִירָם: הוּא-דָתָן וַאֲבִירָם קרואי (קְרִיאֵי) הָעֵדָה, אֲשֶׁר הִצּוּ עַל-מֹשֶׁה וְעַל-אַהֲרֹן בַּעֲדַת-קֹרַח, בְּהַצֹּתָם, עַל-יְהוָה. 9 And the sons of Eliab: Nemuel, and Dathan, and Abiram. These are that Dathan and Abiram, the elect of the congregation, who strove against Moses and against Aaron in the company of Korah, when they strove against the LORD;
י וַתִּפְתַּח הָאָרֶץ אֶת-פִּיהָ, וַתִּבְלַע אֹתָם וְאֶת-קֹרַח--בְּמוֹת הָעֵדָה: בַּאֲכֹל הָאֵשׁ, אֵת חֲמִשִּׁים וּמָאתַיִם אִישׁ, וַיִּהְיוּ, לְנֵס. 10 and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up together with Korah, when that company died; what time the fire devoured two hundred and fifty men, and they became a sign.
יא וּבְנֵי-קֹרַח, לֹא-מֵתוּ. {ס 11 Notwithstanding the sons of Korah died not. {S}
This is taking they pasuk as saying that the sons of Korach did not due but repented at the last moment and survived. They were then the ones that had descendants that became these great leaders and prophets.

{Update Dec 6: I neglected to mention how the midrash gets this idea in the case of Korach.
It is a midrash on the words רַב-לָכֶם, בְּנֵי לֵוִי. The idea seems to be that רַב-לָכֶם, you have great ones to you, in terms of בְּנֵי לֵוִי, your descendants.}

Once again, we have someone who sees the future, but not well enough. In both cases, the people in question acted with the foreknowledge of descendants to come, but they did not realize that these descendants would come from their children.

Counteracting Assimilation

from the Galilean Aramaic department

I read something interesting in thing Yechezkel Kutscher's Studies in Galilean Aramaic. On page 17, he writes:
k - q : kšţym (H) "archers" (=qštym) 611 (4 X). This is a particularly interesting example. The first t became ţ under the influence of the q.15 Then afterwards q dissimilated to k, since as, for example, in Akkadian, two emphatic consonants cannot coexist in the same root. Cf. kşyr "harvest" ( = qşyr) in Elephantine Aramaic (Aḥiqar 1, 127). We may therefore suppose that such a dialect also existed in Palestine/ We may pose the question whether the form tkšyţ is not really tqšyţ "decoration." This form occurs in YFG 106 22,26. See Epstein, MNM, p. 1227.


15 See also in Palmyrene and in TY: qšţym, qštym YFG 181 9,10.
To explain this in simpler terms, Kutscher is discussing the phenomenon of switching off between q and k, that is, ק and כ, in dialects of Galilean Aramaic, and specifically forms that appear in the Vatican manuscript of the Jerusalem Talmud. Here, his example is a Hebrew term, kšţym, כשטים, to mean archers, rather than qštym, קשתים. We would expect the latter, קשתים, because qšt, קשת, means a bow, from which the word קשתים arises. There are two changes here: from ק to כ (q to k), and from ת to ט (t to ţ). This word occurs 4 times on folio 611 of the Vatican manuscript.

Kutscher offers an interesting analysis. First, the ק (q), which is an amphatic version of כ (k), influenced the ת (t), transforming it into an emphatic ט (ţ). This process is called assimilation. Then, since we dislike having two emphatic letters in a single root, the presence of ט (ţ) causes to ק (q) to dissimilate, and lose its emphatic quality, to become a כ (k). The purpose of footnote 15 is to show the intermediate stage, with both the ק (q) and ט (ţ), occurs in Talmud Yerushalmi, in Ginzburg's Yerushalmi Geniza Fragments. For the second transformation, he cites precedent in Akkadian, and also in Elephantine Aramaic - in the latter, the emphatic צ (ş) causes the original ק (q) to dissimilate to a כ (k).

Among other reasons I am interested in this is that I am in the midst of writing an essay for a take-home final in Theoretical Linguistics, and we need to show two concrete example demonstrating the importance of rule ordering. Here, it is clear that the rule causing assimilation must happen before the rule causing dissimilation, because otherwise, we would not have the emphatic ט (ţ) to cause the dissimilation of ק (q).

Vayeishev #3: The Clothes Make The Man

As I already posted, Yaakov used Esav's clothes to pretend to be Esav. Yosef's brothers use his coat to pretend that Yosef has died.

There is another instance in the parsha where clothes are used as an identification mark for Yosef. In Bereishit 39:10-18:
י וַיְהִי, כְּדַבְּרָהּ אֶל-יוֹסֵף יוֹם יוֹם; וְלֹא-שָׁמַע אֵלֶיהָ לִשְׁכַּב אֶצְלָהּ, לִהְיוֹת עִמָּהּ. 10 And it came to pass, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her.
יא וַיְהִי כְּהַיּוֹם הַזֶּה, וַיָּבֹא הַבַּיְתָה לַעֲשׂוֹת מְלַאכְתּוֹ; וְאֵין אִישׁ מֵאַנְשֵׁי הַבַּיִת, שָׁם--בַּבָּיִת. 11 And it came to pass on a certain day, when he went into the house to do his work, and there was none of the men of the house there within,
יב וַתִּתְפְּשֵׂהוּ בְּבִגְדוֹ לֵאמֹר, שִׁכְבָה עִמִּי; וַיַּעֲזֹב בִּגְדוֹ בְּיָדָהּ, וַיָּנָס וַיֵּצֵא הַחוּצָה. 12 that she caught him by his garment, saying: 'Lie with me.' And he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.
יג וַיְהִי, כִּרְאוֹתָהּ, כִּי-עָזַב בִּגְדוֹ, בְּיָדָהּ; וַיָּנָס, הַחוּצָה. 13 And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth,
יד וַתִּקְרָא לְאַנְשֵׁי בֵיתָהּ, וַתֹּאמֶר לָהֶם לֵאמֹר, רְאוּ הֵבִיא לָנוּ אִישׁ עִבְרִי, לְצַחֶק בָּנוּ: בָּא אֵלַי לִשְׁכַּב עִמִּי, וָאֶקְרָא בְּקוֹל גָּדוֹל. 14 that she called unto the men of her house, and spoke unto them, saying: 'See, he hath brought in a Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice.
טו וַיְהִי כְשָׁמְעוֹ, כִּי-הֲרִימֹתִי קוֹלִי וָאֶקְרָא; וַיַּעֲזֹב בִּגְדוֹ אֶצְלִי, וַיָּנָס וַיֵּצֵא הַחוּצָה. 15 And it came to pass, when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment by me, and fled, and got him out.'
טז וַתַּנַּח בִּגְדוֹ, אֶצְלָהּ, עַד-בּוֹא אֲדֹנָיו, אֶל-בֵּיתוֹ. 16 And she laid up his garment by her, until his master came home.
יז וַתְּדַבֵּר אֵלָיו, כַּדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה לֵאמֹר: בָּא-אֵלַי הָעֶבֶד הָעִבְרִי, אֲשֶׁר-הֵבֵאתָ לָּנוּ--לְצַחֶק בִּי. 17 And she spoke unto him according to these words, saying: 'The Hebrew servant, whom thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me.
יח וַיְהִי, כַּהֲרִימִי קוֹלִי וָאֶקְרָא; וַיַּעֲזֹב בִּגְדוֹ אֶצְלִי, וַיָּנָס הַחוּצָה. 18 And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment by me, and fled out.'

An article in the wall Street Journal today:

Red Double-Crossed Again.

It is a good article in its own right, and I recommend reading it. A choice quote (bolding mine):
To unpack the absurdities here, it helps to understand what the Geneva Conventions say about legitimate prisoners of war. The basic idea behind granting POW status is that soldiers who surrender or are captured are not to be punished so long as they have behaved according to certain rules--such as fighting in uniform and doing their best to direct their own attacks at enemy soldiers rather than civilians. Part of their protection from punishment is that they not be subject to coercive interrogation; they are required only to give name, rank and serial number. They may, however, be held for the duration of the conflict so that they do not return to the battlefield.

The POW concept is certainly a great humanitarian advance, since the slaughter of captured enemies used to be routine and since it provides some incentive to fair battlefield conduct. But it is a concept in jeopardy thanks to its ostensible guardians at the ICRC. By demanding POW status for un-uniformed combatants who target civilians--in contravention of the plain language of the Geneva Conventions--the ICRC started the fight over Guantanamo by attempting to remove one of the few carrots we have to encourage humane behavior in war.

Now it goes further and demands that these combatants get even more privileges than legitimate POWs. Has it occurred to no one in Geneva that indefinite detention can't possibly be "tantamount to torture" for illegal combatants if it is the expected course of events for real POWs? The prospect of Guantanamo detainees returning to the battlefield is real, and more than two dozen of those already released have done so.

What does have to do with the parsha though? Well, it fits in with a point I was making the other day in a comment on another blog. One of my posts on Vayishlach, about a midrash rabba saying that Dinah had gone out with her arm (or shoulder) exposed, prompted note over the Velveteen Rabbi. In my reply (in the comments), one thing I mentioned was that with Dinah still captive, the brothers can be seen to have been mounting a rescue attempt. The killing of all the men of Shechem rather than taking them captive seems to have been a common aspect of warfare of the time, since they were combatants who would otherwise regroup and attack later. That is, the whole affair need not be spun as an honor killing.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Vayeishev #2: Mistaken Identities

As noted in the previous post, Yosef's brothers used Yosef's coat and some goat blood to fool their father into thinking Yosef had died. This got me thinking - how common does mistaken identity come up in Tanach?

A partial list:
Sarah pretends to be Avraham's sister.
Rivka pretends to be Yitzchak's sister.
They angels pretend to be human to Avraham.
The angels seem to be human to the Sodomites, and perhaps Lot.
Lot sleeps with his daughters, being so drunk he does not know who they are.
Yaakov pretends to be Esav via Esav's clothing and some goat skins.
The brothers pretend that Yosef's coat and some goat blood are all that remains of Yosef.
Moshe's sister says she will get a regular nursemaid but in fact fetches Moshe's mother.
Perhaps, when Moshe comes to Midian, the girls he saves think he is an Egyptian.
In sefer yehoshua (9:4), the Gibeonites use old clothing and flasks to pretend they are from far away, so as to make a peace treaty.
In 2 Shmuel 14, Yoav convinces a woman to pretend to King David that she is a mourner.

Update Nov 2 2004: I missed: Tamar pretends to be a prostitute to get together with Yehuda.
Update Nov 14 2004: I missed: Yosef presents himself to his brothers as a stranger - as the vizier, which he is, but does not tell them that he is their brother.
If I missed some, please post a comment!


Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Vayeishev #1: Choice garments and goat bits

A theme: sibling[s] of the favorite, beloved son, use goat bits and the son's best garment to misrepresent to the father information about the son. Esav and Yosef.

Esav was beloved by Yaakov because he provided him with game. Bereishit 25:28:
כז וַיִּגְדְּלוּ, הַנְּעָרִים, וַיְהִי עֵשָׂו אִישׁ יֹדֵעַ צַיִד, אִישׁ שָׂדֶה; וְיַעֲקֹב אִישׁ תָּם, יֹשֵׁב אֹהָלִים. 27 And the boys grew; and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents.
כח וַיֶּאֱהַב יִצְחָק אֶת-עֵשָׂו, כִּי-צַיִד בְּפִיו; וְרִבְקָה, אֹהֶבֶת אֶת-יַעֲקֹב. 28 Now Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison; and Rebekah loved Jacob.
Yaakov loved Yosef more than his other children. Bereishit 37:3-4:
ג וְיִשְׂרָאֵל, אָהַב אֶת-יוֹסֵף מִכָּל-בָּנָיו--כִּי-בֶן-זְקֻנִים הוּא, לוֹ; וְעָשָׂה לוֹ, כְּתֹנֶת פַּסִּים. 3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a coat of many colours.
ד וַיִּרְאוּ אֶחָיו, כִּי-אֹתוֹ אָהַב אֲבִיהֶם מִכָּל-אֶחָיו--וַיִּשְׂנְאוּ, אֹתוֹ; וְלֹא יָכְלוּ, דַּבְּרוֹ לְשָׁלֹם. 4 And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.

Yaakov pretended to be Esav with the help of Esav's choice garments and some goat skins, to trick his father into beleiving that he is Esav. Bereishit 27:15-17:
טו וַתִּקַּח רִבְקָה אֶת-בִּגְדֵי עֵשָׂו בְּנָהּ הַגָּדֹל, הַחֲמֻדֹת, אֲשֶׁר אִתָּהּ, בַּבָּיִת; וַתַּלְבֵּשׁ אֶת-יַעֲקֹב, בְּנָהּ הַקָּטָן. 15 And Rebekah took the choicest garments of Esau her elder son, which were with her in the house, and put them upon Jacob her younger son.
טז וְאֵת, עֹרֹת גְּדָיֵי הָעִזִּים, הִלְבִּישָׁה, עַל-יָדָיו--וְעַל, חֶלְקַת צַוָּארָיו. 16 And she put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck.
יז וַתִּתֵּן אֶת-הַמַּטְעַמִּים וְאֶת-הַלֶּחֶם, אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂתָה, בְּיַד, יַעֲקֹב בְּנָהּ. 17 And she gave the savoury food and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob.
Yosef's brothers use Yosef's special coat and dip it in goat blood, to trick their father into thinking Yosef has died. Bereishit 37:31-33:

לא וַיִּקְחוּ, אֶת-כְּתֹנֶת יוֹסֵף; וַיִּשְׁחֲטוּ שְׂעִיר עִזִּים, וַיִּטְבְּלוּ אֶת-הַכֻּתֹּנֶת בַּדָּם. 31 And they took Joseph's coat, and killed a he-goat, and dipped the coat in the blood;
לב וַיְשַׁלְּחוּ אֶת-כְּתֹנֶת הַפַּסִּים, וַיָּבִיאוּ אֶל-אֲבִיהֶם, וַיֹּאמְרוּ, זֹאת מָצָאנוּ: הַכֶּר-נָא, הַכְּתֹנֶת בִּנְךָ הִוא--אִם-לֹא. 32 and they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father; and said: 'This have we found. Know now whether it is thy son's coat or not.'
לג וַיַּכִּירָהּ וַיֹּאמֶר כְּתֹנֶת בְּנִי, חַיָּה רָעָה אֲכָלָתְהוּ; טָרֹף טֹרַף, יוֹסֵף. 33 And he knew it, and said: 'It is my son's coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt torn in pieces.'

Perhaps this, in part, is what motivates those who identify Yosef's coat with Esav's choice garments - the same ones taken by Esav from Nimrod.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Vayeishev Recap

Last year on parshablog, on parshat Vayeishev:

In Chutzpah! I note that the brothers are shepherding in Shechem, which they had destroyed in the previous parsha. Although Yaakov initially feared a reaction from the neighboring towns, the pasuk (Bereishit 35:5:) tells us that the fear of God was put into the inhabitants of the towns and the hostile reaction did not surface. Here they are, initially shepherding in Shechem, perhaps even the flocks taken as spoils from Shechem, and Yosef has no fear to go to Shechem alone to see how things fare. Also, Tg Yonatan has two points about the sale of Yosef: it being preordained, and being linked to the destruction of Shechem.

In Dibatam Ra'ah, I discuss the word נַעַר as a verb in the second pasuk of Vayeishev, in Bereishit 37:2. The midrash gives three bad things the brothers did, or appeared to do, that Yosef reported - eating 'ever min hachai, treating the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah as servants, and secual improprieties. I show how these might be derived from the pasuk. Finally, Tg Yonatan gives on sin - that he saw them eat the ears and tails separated from the live animals. I give Perush Yonatan's explanation for this, as well as a possible derivation from the text.

In Where Does the First Pasuk Belong?, I note the relationship between the first pasuk which says that Yaakov settled in the land of his forefathers, with a similar statement about Esav in the previous parsha. I suggest it logically belongs to the previous parsha. This may relate to the order of the narrative, such that the story of Yosef actually precedes the birth of Binyamin and thus Rachel's death. Some proofs that Binyamin is not yet born - Binyamin is not mentioned; Yosef is called the ben zekunim - son of old age; and Yaakov asks "will I and your mother bow down before you?" implying that Rachel, Yosef's mother, is still alive. Then, I suggest that the following

In Brand Name Recognition? Or Lack Thereof?, מהר"א אשכנזי, based on Islamic practice, explains Yehuda's command that Tamar be burnt is a command to brand her forhead to label her a harlot. The presence of the mark is the reason harlots would typically cover their faces, and the pasuk says that Tamar did this when pretending to be one.

In A Baaaad Report, I suggest that on a peshat level, rather than דִּבָּתָם רָעָה meaning an evil report, it actually means a report as to how the shepherding is going. Proofs to this effect - nowhere do we see explicitly what the bad things he reported were, nor that the brothers hated him for it. Further, it seems to set up the story such that we understand why Yaakov sends Yosef after his brothers to find out how the shepherding is going - this is his role.


Alpacas


What I want for Chanukka :) - photo from the New York Times Posted by Hello

In Vayikra 11:2-7, we read about some non-kosher animals:
ב דַּבְּרוּ אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, לֵאמֹר: זֹאת הַחַיָּה אֲשֶׁר תֹּאכְלוּ, מִכָּל-הַבְּהֵמָה אֲשֶׁר עַל-הָאָרֶץ.
2
Speak unto the children of Israel, saying: These are the living things which ye may eat among all the beasts that are on the earth.
ג כֹּל מַפְרֶסֶת פַּרְסָה, וְשֹׁסַעַת שֶׁסַע פְּרָסֹת, מַעֲלַת גֵּרָה, בַּבְּהֵמָה--אֹתָהּ, תֹּאכֵלוּ. 3 Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is wholly cloven-footed, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that may ye eat.
ד אַךְ אֶת-זֶה, לֹא תֹאכְלוּ, מִמַּעֲלֵי הַגֵּרָה, וּמִמַּפְרִסֵי הַפַּרְסָה: אֶת-הַגָּמָל כִּי-מַעֲלֵה גֵרָה הוּא, וּפַרְסָה אֵינֶנּוּ מַפְרִיס--טָמֵא הוּא, לָכֶם. 4 Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that only chew the cud, or of them that only part the hoof: the camel, because he cheweth the cud but parteth not the hoof, he is unclean unto you.
ה וְאֶת-הַשָּׁפָן, כִּי-מַעֲלֵה גֵרָה הוּא, וּפַרְסָה, לֹא יַפְרִיס; טָמֵא הוּא, לָכֶם. 5 And the rock-badger, because he cheweth the cud but parteth not the hoof, he is unclean unto you.
ו וְאֶת-הָאַרְנֶבֶת, כִּי-מַעֲלַת גֵּרָה הִוא, וּפַרְסָה, לֹא הִפְרִיסָה; טְמֵאָה הִוא, לָכֶם. 6 And the hare, because she cheweth the cud but parteth not the hoof, she is unclean unto you.
ז וְאֶת-הַחֲזִיר כִּי-מַפְרִיס פַּרְסָה הוּא, וְשֹׁסַע שֶׁסַע פַּרְסָה, וְהוּא, גֵּרָה לֹא-יִגָּר; טָמֵא הוּא, לָכֶם. 7 And the swine, because he parteth the hoof, and is cloven-footed, but cheweth not the cud, he is unclean unto you.

Some (such as Rabbi Tendler) suggest that the Shafan might not the rock-badger, but rather the alpaca, and that the Arnevet mentioned in the next pasuk is not the hare but the llama.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Note on viewing the trup in the Vayishlach posts

There seems to be a problem viewing the trup in Internet Explorer. Installing a trup font might help. Alternatively, there seems to be no problem seeing it in Mozilla Firefox.

Vayishlach #5: Come and Hear, or Come, then Hear?

In midrash rabba, someone suggests that a pasuk from Vayishlach should be added to a list of four pesukim with ambiguous parsing.

In Bereishit 34:7 we read:

ז וּבְנֵי יַעֲקֹב בָּאוּ מִן-הַשָּׂדֶה, כְּשָׁמְעָם, וַיִּתְעַצְּבוּ הָאֲנָשִׁים, וַיִּחַר לָהֶם מְאֹד: כִּי-נְבָלָה עָשָׂה בְיִשְׂרָאֵל, לִשְׁכַּב אֶת-בַּת-יַעֲקֹב, וְכֵן, לֹא יֵעָשֶׂה.
7 And the sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard it; and the men were grieved, and they were very wroth, because he had wrought a vile deed in Israel in lying with Jacob's daughter; which thing ought not to be done.

At issue is whether the word כְּשָׁמְעָם, "when they heard it" associates with the pasuk up to this point - they came as soon as they heard - or if is associates with the next part of the pasuk - so that they came, and when they heard, they were grieved and very wroth. The English translation above already disambiguates the parsing issue in favor of the former parsing of the pasuk. It also accords with the trup on the pasuk:

Bereishit 34:7:
ז וּבְנֵ֨י יַֽעֲקֹ֜ב בָּ֤אוּ מִן־הַשָּׂדֶה֙ כְּשָׁמְעָ֔ם וַיִּֽתְעַצְּבוּ֙ הָֽאֲנָשִׁ֔ים וַיִּ֥חַר לָהֶ֖ם מְאֹ֑ד כִּֽי־נְבָלָ֞ה עָשָׂ֣ה בְיִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל לִשְׁכַּב֙ אֶת־בַּֽת־יַעֲקֹ֔ב וְכֵ֖ן לֹ֥א יֵֽעָשֶֽׂה׃

Here, the disjunctive accent, in the form of a zaqef katon on the word כְּשָׁמְעָם, separates the pasuk such that the word belongs to the first half.

Vayishlach #4: How to address a business letter

Yaakov sends messengers, or angels, to his brother Esav, and commands them to deliver a message. As we read in Bereishit 32:4-5:

ד וַיִּשְׁלַח יַעֲקֹב מַלְאָכִים לְפָנָיו, אֶל-עֵשָׂו אָחִיו, אַרְצָה שֵׂעִיר, שְׂדֵה אֱדוֹם. 4 And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the field of Edom.
ה וַיְצַו אֹתָם, לֵאמֹר, כֹּה תֹאמְרוּן, לַאדֹנִי לְעֵשָׂו: כֹּה אָמַר, עַבְדְּךָ יַעֲקֹב, עִם-לָבָן גַּרְתִּי, וָאֵחַר עַד-עָתָּה. 5 And he commanded them, saying: 'Thus shall ye say unto my lord Esau: Thus saith thy servant Jacob: I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed until now.

The way the JPS translation parses pasuk 5 reflects the way it is most commonly taken. Namely, that he commands them, saying to them to tell his lord Esav something. The message then starts with "Thus saith thy servant Jacob." He then, in private conversation to his servants, is calling Esav his lord, which is strange.

Speiser (in Anchor Bible Genesis), following Ehrlich, writes:

Figure 1: Speiser, Anchor Bible Genesis, composite image Posted by Hello
An epistolary formula is one "[o]f or associated with letters or the writing of letters." Thus, he notes that in Akkadian, there is a matching formula to that in the verse. (Well, not exactly. He puts the word speaks in parentheses, where in the pasuk we have the word speaks.) Plus there is the issue of why he would refer privately to Esav as his lord.

He claims that "So say to my lord Esav" is actually part of the message. Speiser's translation is not exactly literal, so it might be worthwhile to show how JPS and Speiser seem to take each part of the verse.

a) וַיְצַו אֹתָם, לֵאמֹר = 'And he commanded them, saying' = 'and gave them this message:'
b) כֹּה תֹאמְרוּן, לַאדֹנִי לְעֵשָׂו = 'Thus shall ye say unto my lord Esau:' = 'To my lord Esau say as follows'
c) כֹּה אָמַר, עַבְדְּךָ יַעֲקֹב = 'Thus saith thy servant Jacob' = 'Thus speaks your servant Jacob'

The difference is that for Speiser the message really starts at the beginning of (b) while for JPS the message starts at the beginning of (c).

Speiser also notes that this reading is against the trup. This is not necessarily the case, but I will delay that discussion to later.

I would note that, while not conclusive evidence, we need not turn to extra-Biblical evidence for this epistolary formula. Though this too is parsed differently in JPS, let us turn to Ezra 4:11-12:

יא דְּנָה, פַּרְשֶׁגֶן אִגַּרְתָּא, דִּי שְׁלַחוּ עֲלוֹהִי, עַל-אַרְתַּחְשַׁשְׂתְּא מַלְכָּא--עבדיך (עַבְדָךְ) אֱנָשׁ עֲבַר-נַהֲרָה, וּכְעֶנֶת. {פ}ו 11 this is the copy of the letter that they sent unto him, even unto Artaxerxes the king--thy servants the men beyond the River--and now {P}
יב יְדִיעַ, לֶהֱוֵא לְמַלְכָּא, דִּי יְהוּדָיֵא דִּי סְלִקוּ מִן-לְוָתָךְ, עֲלֶינָא אֲתוֹ לִירוּשְׁלֶם; קִרְיְתָא מָרָדְתָּא וּבִאישְׁתָּא, בָּנַיִן, ושורי אשכללו (וְשׁוּרַיָּא שַׁכְלִלוּ), וְאֻשַּׁיָּא יַחִיטוּ. 12 be it known unto the king, that the Jews that came up from thee are come to us unto Jerusalem; they are building the rebellious and the bad city, and have finished the walls, and are digging out the foundations.

The way this is parsed in JPS is that (in pasuk 11) 'they sent unto him, even unto Artaxerxes the king.' Then presumably, the letter begings after the --, with 'thy servants the men beyond the River.'

Here, though, we have a duplication. Why say 'they sent unto him' and then 'unto Artaxerxes the king.' The reason the word 'even' is inserted in the translation is to note this duplication. But in fact, if we turn to extrabiblical evidence, we see that this is how letters were addressed.

Thus, if this is so, it should really read: 'This is the copy of the letter that they sent to him: To Artaxerxes the king, the men of [the province] Across the River, and now.' In fact, this is how Jacob Myers translates the pasuk in the Anchor Bible Ezra-Nechemia, pg 31, without even noting in a note or comment that he is doing this.

I do not beleive that this was necessarily not known to Chazal, even though Speiser credits Ehrlich as his source for this explanation. In fact, we might surmise as much from reading midrash rabba on this week's parsha. Yehuda Nesia sent a letter to the Roman Emperor Antoninus, with whom he was friendly. (Now, elsewhere in midrash rabba for this sedra, there is an idea to use Yaakov's interactions with Esav as a template for how to interact with the Romans.)
מדרש רבה פרשה ע"ה

ה וַיְצַו אֹתָם, לֵאמֹר, כֹּה תֹאמְרוּן, לַאדֹנִי לְעֵשָׂו
רבינו אמר לרבי אפס
כתוב חד אגרא מן שמי למרן מלכא אנטונינוס
קם וכתב
מן יהודה נשיאה למרן מלכא אנטונינוס
נסבה וקרייה וקרעיה
אמר ליה כתוב
מן עבדך יהודה למרן מלכא אנטונינוס
אמר ליה רבי מפני מה אתה מבזה על כבודך?
אמר ליה מה אנא טב מן סבי?!
לא כך אמר
כֹּה אָמַר, עַבְדְּךָ יַעֲקֹב
'And he commanded them saying, so say to my lord Esav'
Rabbenu said to Rabbi Apas:
'Write a letter from me (lit. from my name) to my master the king Antoninus.'
He (R Apas) got up and wrote: From Yehuda Nesia (the Prince) to our master the king Antoninus.
He (Yehuda Nesia) got up and read it and tore it up.
He (Yehuda Nesia) said 'Write: From your servant Yehuda to our master the king Antoninus.'
He (R Apas) said, 'Rebbi, for what cause do you degrade your honor?'
He (Yehuda Nesia) said to him, 'What, am I better than my ancestor?! Does it not say: So says your servant Yaakov?'
Thus, Yehuda Nesia considers the message sent from Yaakov to Esav to be epistolic in nature, or at least a basis for an epistle. Note also that while the order of the sender and sendee is reversed, he still includes both components, and 'our master the king Antoninus' parallels 'my lord Esav.' The only thing at issue was how to refer to himself.

So, while not a clear-cut case, it appears that Yehuda Nesia may have parsed the pasuk the same way.

Now, on to the issue of the trup. Speiser noted that his reading was against the traditional accents. If so, I would guess this would be true for the pasuk in Ezra as well.

From Bereishit 32:5:
ה וַיְצַ֤ו אֹתָם֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר כֹּ֣ה תֹֽאמְר֔וּן לַֽאדֹנִ֖י לְעֵשָׂ֑ו כֹּ֤ה אָמַר֙ עַבְדְּךָ֣ יַֽעֲקֹ֔ב עִם־לָבָ֣ן גַּ֔רְתִּי וָֽאֵחַ֖ר עַד־עָֽתָּה׃

and from Ezra 4:11:
יא דְּנָה֙ פַּרְשֶׁ֣גֶן אִגַּרְתָּ֔א דִּ֚י שְׁלַ֣חוּ עֲל֔וֹהִי עַל־אַרְתַּחְשַׁ֖שְׂתְּא מַלְכָּ֑א עבדיך (עַבְדָ֛ךְ) אֱנָ֥שׁ עֲבַֽר־נַהֲרָ֖ה וּכְעֶֽנֶת׃

Note in both cases the etnachta (֑) is the accent that breaks the pasuk in twain. It appears on לְעֵשָׂ֑ו, to Esav, in Bereishit and on מַלְכָּ֑א , the king, in Ezra, thus appearing to break up the verse as in the JPS. Thus, in Bereishit, the "say to Esav" is divided from the rest of the message and the "so says your servant Yaakov," and in Ezra, the "unto the king Artaxerxes" is divided from the rest of the message and from "your servants on the other side of the river."

We would presumably like the division after the word לֵאמֹר in Bereishit, and after עֲלוֹהִי in Ezra.

However, the cantillation can be misleading in this regard, and you really need to know a lot about trup before you can make a statement that a reading is against the trup. In this case, it is advisable to see what one of te definitive books on trup has to contribute to the matter.

Let us turn to William Wickes' Two Treatises on the Accentuation of the Old Testament:In a chapter titled “The Dichotomy” of the second treatise, he writes:
(page 34)

III. α, It is on the same principle that the introductory part of the verse, although logically requiring the main accent (Athnach) after it, is constantly passed over, that this accent may be introduced where the weight of the meaning of the passage seems to lie. Observe the division in the following instances:

(page 35)

β. Particularly noteworthy is the way in which the words that introduce a speech – or anything similar, as a command, decree, oath, covenant, &c. – are treated. They constantly occupy a subordinate position, as far as the accents are concerned. The clause containing the speech itself, the command, &c, is counted the more important, and receives the main accentuation. In short, the division is made (as above) just as if the introductory words were absent, e.g.

‘And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.' (Gen. i. 6).
'And the LORD said unto him: Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.' (Gen iv. 15). {J: The pasuk continues. Also, I took JPS's 'the LORD' in place of Wickes' writing of the name, and will do so in the other examples as well.}
'And Moses said unto the children of Israel, 'See, the LORD hath called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. (Ex. xxxv. 30)
The Lord GOD hath sworn by His holiness, Lo, surely the days shall come upon you, that ye shall be taken away with hooks, and your residue with fish-hooks. (Amos iv. 2).
'...and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon.' (Dan.. ii. 12).
' Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, ..... and all kinds of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image' (iii 10).
Such cases occur in every page.
Since these are words that introduce a speech, we would not expect to find the division on the word introducing that speech, but a bit later. Thus we should not expect it on לֵאמֹר but rather later in the actual message, and we should not expect it on עֲלוֹהִי but rather later, in the actual message. In fact that is where we find it, within the address: after 'So say to my lord Esav' and after 'to the king Artexerxes.'

Perhaps once we delay the etnachta from the word לֵאמֹר we would like to have it even later, so as not to divide the first part of the address from the second, but (one could say) this is already a syntactical and semantical division, since after all, even though it is part of the message, it is a command to relate the following message to the recipient.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

+2 nedarim;

הדרן עלך כל אילו נדרים!
הדרן עלך ארבעה נדרים!
(perek 2 and 3 of yerushalmi nedarim)

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Vayishlach #3:
Q: Where did the general keep his armies?

A: In his sleevies!

Not necessarily the case for Dina. A midrash in midrash rabba claims that she went out with her arm uncovered, and Shechem saw her and then grabbed her.

Where does it get this from?

Bereishit 34:1-2 reads:
א וַתֵּצֵא דִינָה בַּת-לֵאָה, אֲשֶׁר יָלְדָה לְיַעֲקֹב, לִרְאוֹת, בִּבְנוֹת הָאָרֶץ. 1 And Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land.
ב וַיַּרְא אֹתָהּ שְׁכֶם בֶּן-חֲמוֹר, הַחִוִּי--נְשִׂיא הָאָרֶץ; וַיִּקַּח אֹתָהּ וַיִּשְׁכַּב אֹתָהּ, וַיְעַנֶּהָ. 2 And Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her; and he took her, and lay with her, and humbled her.
Which may be translated: And he saw her shoulder (shechem), did the son of Chamor. (As one perush explains, the prompting for such an interpretation is the word order - it might have placed שְׁכֶם בֶּן-חֲמוֹר before the word אֹתָהּ. That these are forced together prompts an additional reading of the pasuk bearing this meaning.)

If so, it would appear that she had her entire arm exposed, not just her elbows.

On a related note, a few weeks ago, in Pastoral Psychology, the professor told us about an Israeli Assessment test for children that had been translated into Yiddish for chareidi children. Some of their answers differed from the one that was expected. For example, they were asked what the following things had in common: knees and elbows. They were expected to say that they are both joints, but the answer the chareidi kids all gave was that they are both something that must be covered. :)

Update: This has turned into a fairly popular post. Hooray! :) To all visitors coming from Velveteen Rabbi, I'd like to clarify that I wouldn't categorize my post as advocacy - more along the lines of observation and analysis of the textual basis for the specific midrash in midrash rabba. Also, while you are here, why not take a look around?

Vayishlach Recap from last year

Last year I had some interesting posts on parashat Vayishlach.

In "Dual Etymologies for Names" I discuss how various place names seem to have more than one reason for their naming. Specifically, מחנים (in the dual form), named at the end of Vayeitzei, is so named because Yaakov sees a single encampment of angels. But then we see in Vayishlach, shortly afterwards and in the same location, that he splits his family into two camps. I discuss a midrash on the matter in Tg Yerushalmi, and the Scriptural basis for the midrash. Tg Yonatan, Rashi, and Ramban seem to take on the issue of why there is a dual in מחנים.
Another dual place name in Vayishlach is Penuel, which Yaakov first names for having seen God face to face and living to tell the tale, yet later he uses the term to say that seeing Esav's face is like seeing that of God.
Also in Vayishlach is Bet El, which Yaakov seems to name multiple times, but I claim the psukim are speaking in the pluperfect, and he only names the place one time.

In "Dual Etymologies for People's Names" I treat dual etymologies for people rather than places as I did in the first post. Turning to Vayeitzei, I find dual etymologies for Yosef and Yissacher, and give possible explanations for this.

In "Shnayim Mikra VeEchad Targum?" I discuss two psukim that have only a single targum, and how the trup is constructed so as to omit the translation in shul. It is a pasuk about Reuven and Bilhah.

In "Commentators Who Live In Glass Houses?" Ibn Ezra takes a contemporary, Yitzchaki, to task for kefira in the dating of the psukim about the kings of Edom. I show how Ibn Ezra's approach differs from Yitzchaki.

Vayishlach #2: Binyomin's name

In Vayishlach, Binyomin is named twice - first by his mother, and next by his father:
Bereishit 35:18:
יח וַיְהִי בְּצֵאת נַפְשָׁהּ, כִּי מֵתָה, וַתִּקְרָא שְׁמוֹ, בֶּן-אוֹנִי;
וְאָבִיו, קָרָא-לוֹ בִנְיָמִין.
18 And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing--for she died--that
she called his name Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin.

The traditional understanding is that "Ben-oni" means "son of my suffering," and Yaakov renamed him to be "Ben Yamin," "son of my right-hand," meaning "son of my strength."

However, perhaps we can treat אוֹנִי as "my strength" as well, with Rachel calling him "son of my strength" in Aramaic and Yaakov in Hebrew.

We see Yaakov uses אוֹנִי to mean strength. When he tells his sons what will happen to them in the "end of days," in Bereishit 49:3, he says
רְאוּבֵן בְּכֹרִי אַתָּה, כֹּחִי וְרֵאשִׁית אוֹנִי--יֶתֶר שְׂאֵת, וְיֶתֶר עָז.

Reuben, thou art my first-born, my might, and the first-fruits of my
strength
; the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power.


Additionally, this might be a dialectal difference - we must recall that Rachel was from Charan, and the daughter of an Aramean, so she might give an Aramaicized name in his name, where as Yaakov would speak Hebrew, and would give the Hebrew. (If so, it is an Aramaic cognate Yaakov uses in Bereishit 49)

Something akin to this is in fact suggested by the midrash rabba on Vayishlach. They say that בֶּן-אוֹנִי is בר צערי, the son of my affliction, in Aramaic, and Yaakov gave him his name in Hebrew. Thus a linguistic difference based on place of origin, but also a different meaning. (One perush brought down in the likut on the side suggested, citing eventually Rashi, that they both mean strength, but she meant the strength of the difficulty of her childbirth, and Yaakov spun it in a more positive direction, strength in general. I would note that, with a bit of forced reading (perhaps made easier if there were some variant text) the midrash might be parsable to take the בר צערי as one explanation, and the Aramaic/Hebrew variation as a second perush, in which case it would be exactly what I initially suggested above.)

Update: My wife Racheli pointed out the parallel to the naming that occured in the previous parsha, Vayeitzei. Lavan pursues Yaakov, and in the end they make peace. We read, in Bereishit 31:46-47:

מו וַיֹּאמֶר יַעֲקֹב לְאֶחָיו לִקְטוּ אֲבָנִים, וַיִּקְחוּ אֲבָנִים וַיַּעֲשׂוּ-גָל; וַיֹּאכְלוּ שָׁם, עַל-הַגָּל. 46 And Jacob said unto his brethren: 'Gather stones'; and they took stones, and made a heap. And they did eat there by the heap.
מז וַיִּקְרָא-לוֹ לָבָן, יְגַר שָׂהֲדוּתָא; וְיַעֲקֹב, קָרָא לוֹ גַּלְעֵד. 47 And Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha; but Jacob called it Galeed.

Lavan, Rachel's father, is an Aramean, so he gives the heap of stones an Aramaic name: Jegar-sahadutha = "heap of witness" in Aramaic. Yaakov speaks Hebrew so he calls it Gal Ed = "heap of witness."

Thus, the are calling it the same thing, but in different languages. The structure of this pasuk is remarkably similar to that of the pasuk in which Binyamin is named.

Vayishlach #1: A Hebrew cognate in Amharic for Vayishlach

While I'm going on about Hebrew cognates in Amharic, I may as well list a parasha appropriate one. From page 50 in "Hebrew Cognates in Amharic" by Wolf Leslau:

lakä ‘send’:
[mälak ‘angel’, originally ‘messenger’;
mäl`ekt, mälekt ‘message’;
mälaktaňňa ‘messenger, envoy;]
G. lä`akä ‘send’;
In Hebrew the root l`k is preserved in מלאך mal`åk ‘angel, messenger’.

We encountered the word מלאך in the second to last pasuk in last week's parsha, Vayeitzei, in Bereishit 32:2:
וְיַעֲקֹב, הָלַךְ לְדַרְכּוֹ; וַיִּפְגְּעוּ-בוֹ, מַלְאֲכֵי אֱלֹקִים.
And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him.

and in the first pasuk of this week's parsha, Vayishlach, in Bereishit 32:4:
וַיִּשְׁלַח יַעֲקֹב מַלְאָכִים לְפָנָיו, אֶל-עֵשָׂו אָחִיו, אַרְצָה
שֵׂעִיר, שְׂדֵה אֱדוֹם.
And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of
Seir, the field of Edom.


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