Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bechukosai: The King?

In parshas Bechukosai, a curious Rashi. The pasuk states {Vayikra 26:34}:
לד אָז תִּרְצֶה הָאָרֶץ אֶת-שַׁבְּתֹתֶיהָ, כֹּל יְמֵי הָשַּׁמָּה, וְאַתֶּם, בְּאֶרֶץ אֹיְבֵיכֶם; אָז תִּשְׁבַּת הָאָרֶץ, וְהִרְצָת אֶת-שַׁבְּתֹתֶיהָ. 34 Then shall the land be paid her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye are in your enemies' land; even then shall the land rest, and repay {/and thus appease} her sabbaths.
What does it mean to repay, or appease her sabbaticals? Rashi writes:
למלך את שבתותיה
To the king her sabbaticals.
What in the world does a king have to do with anything here? And if it refers to Hashem, why not say "to Hashem?" Why to the king?

An explanation of Rashi, channeling Mizrachi:
and thus appease [This verb is in the causative form, meaning: The Land will appease] the King regarding its sabbaticals (Mizrachi).
It is not clear what is bothering, or motivating Rashi here.

Shadal comes to the rescue with a simple girsological correction, based on a manuscript of Rashi he had in his possession:
(ברש"י כ "י שבידי : למלאת את שבתותיה ( לא : למלך את שבתותיה.

Thus, the word is not למלך but למלאת, to repay. And Rashi is explaining the meaning of the strange word וְהִרְצָת here. It is still indeed a hiphil.

A bit later, on pasuk 41:
מא אַף-אֲנִי, אֵלֵךְ עִמָּם בְּקֶרִי, וְהֵבֵאתִי אֹתָם, בְּאֶרֶץ אֹיְבֵיהֶם; אוֹ-אָז יִכָּנַע, לְבָבָם הֶעָרֵל, וְאָז, יִרְצוּ אֶת-עֲו‍ֹנָם. 41 I also will walk contrary unto them, and bring them into the land of their enemies; if then perchance their uncircumcised heart be humbled, and they then be paid the punishment of their iniquity;
Shadal writes:
ירצו את עונם : כמו עד ירצה כשכיר יומו ( איוב י " ד - ו '), או אולי כל " ירצו " " תרצה " הכתובים כאן ראויין להינקד פתח , והם הפעיל , כמו פסוק ל " ד והרצת את שבתותיה , וטעם הרצה שילם ( על דרך שלם שענינו עשה שלום , ככה הרצה ענינו פייס ) והטעם כשייכנע לבבם אז יכלה תשלום עונם וכן האדמה כאילו היא חייבת לשלם לה ' שבתותיה , ועיין רמבמ " ן פסוק ל " ד .
Thus he explains that the word really means to appease. The meaning of הרצה is שילם, to repay, but by way of "making peace" (shalom). The idea is that when they humble their hearts, then the repayment of their sins will be finished. And so too the land, it is as if it is obligated to pay to Hashem its sabbaticals.

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