Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What In The World Is Kesones Passim? And How Only Yosef and Tamar Were Tznius ...

And how Yosef (to the exclusion of the other shevatim) was exceptionally tznius; or else not tnius at all.

Rashi (here and here) says it was a fine woolen garment, noting the ketonet passim of Tamar, and noting that pas occurs in the word karpas.
פסים -
לשון כלי מלת.
כמו (אסתר א ו) כרפס ותכלת.
וכמו (שמואל ב' יג יח) כתונת הפסים, דתמר ואמנון.

ומדרש אגדה:
על שם צרותיו שנמכר לפוטיפר ולסוחרים ולישמעאלים ולמדינים:

fine woolen Heb. פַּסִים, a term meaning fine woolen garments, like“green wool (כַּרְפַּס) and blue wool” (Esther 1:6), and like the fine woolen coat (כְתֹנֶת פַּסִים) of Tamar and Amnon (II Sam. 13:18). The Midrash Aggadah, however, explains that it was called פַּסִים because of his (Joseph’s) troubles, namely, that he was sold to Potiphar (פּוֹטִפַר), to the merchants (סוֹחֲרִים), to the Ishmaelites (יִשְׁמְעִאלִים), and to the Midianites (מִדְיָנִים). [From Gen. Rabbah 84:8]
Rashbam translates similarly -- פסים - מעיל.
Ibn Ezra appears to give two perushim:
פסים -
כתונת מרוקמת.

פסים -
כמו: פס ידא בלשון ארמית.

But others have different explanations. Thus,
A many-colored coat (37:3)

Ketonet passim, in the Hebrew. The word passim can be translated as "colorful" (Radak; Septuagint), "embroidered" (Ibn Ezra; Bachya; Nachmanides on Exodus 28:2), "striped" (Ibn Janach; Radak, Sherashim), or "illustrated" (Targum Yonathan). It can also denote a long garment, coming down to the "palms" of the hands (Rashbam; Ibn Ezra; Baaley Tosafoth; Midrash Rabbah), and the feet (Lekach Tov). Alternatively, the word denotes the material out of which the coat was made, which was fine wool (Rashi) or silk (Ibn Janach). Hence, Ketonet passim, may be translated as "a full-sleeved robe," "a coat of many colors," "a coat reaching to his feet," "an ornamented tunic," "a silk robe," or "a fine woolen cloak."

(The Living Torah)

though I do not see how they get Rashbam as connecting to "palms."

Shadal has an interesting take, in this context. He says it means coming down to the hands and the feet. Thus:

כתנת פסים : שהיתה מגעת עד פס ידו (בראשית רבא פ"ד ה') ועד פס רגלו, וכן תירגם עקילס , ואורך הבגדים הוא סימן שיחרור וגדולה, שאינו צריך לעשות מלאכה. ומילת פס יד ורגל לדעת גזניוס הוא מענין קצה וסוף, כמו כי פסו אמונים (תהלים י"ב בי) ולדעת תלמידי דח"ו משורש פשה ופסיון, להיותה מקום מתיחת היד והרגל.

and that this is also the translation of Aqilas. He explains that the length of the garments was a sign of freedom and greatness, that he did not need perform (manual) labor.

This then functions as an explanation of why it was favoritism to give him a ketonet pasim. And it also makes sense in terms of Tamar, and all the virgins from bet David:
יח וְעָלֶיהָ כְּתֹנֶת פַּסִּים, כִּי כֵן תִּלְבַּשְׁןָ בְנוֹת-הַמֶּלֶךְ הַבְּתוּלֹת מְעִילִים; וַיֹּצֵא אוֹתָהּ מְשָׁרְתוֹ הַחוּץ, וְנָעַל הַדֶּלֶת אַחֲרֶיהָ. 18 Now she had a garment of many colours upon her; for with such robes were the king's daughters that were virgins apparelled.--And his servant brought her out, and bolted the door after her.
It would be a sign of gedulah. (Of course, other explanations could also work to show such gedulah.)

But this would mean that in the general case, men (based on Yosef) and women (based on Tamar) did not wear clothing which came to the wrists and ankles. Because it got in the way of work, according to Shadal. Or they just didn't, according to Rashbam; Ibn Ezra; Baaley Tosafoth; Midrash Rabbah, and Lekach Tov.

But how could that be? The Avos, and shevatim, surely kept the Torah, with all the proper tznius restrictions. And yet Yaakov's sons and their twin sisters did not wear clothing up to their wrists and ankles. And those girls not from malchut bet David likewise. What would Rabbi Falk, who takes the midrashic example of the Avot, Imahos, and shevatim as a basis for normative halacha / hashkafa in tznius, do?

Alternatively, look to Radak. Rabbi Falk bases himself on Radak's interpretation of a pasuk to show that an engaged couple should ideally not speak to one another at all. Yet here, he says that Yosef as well as Tamar and the rest of the daughters of David HaMelech wore a coat of many colors. How could girls wear coats of many colors? Does this not attract attention? (He might say that they were multicolored in the specific few colors he permits. I don't know. He says (I don't have the full book that black and blue are generally tzniusdik colors, but I think also likes certain "calm" colors.) But then again, the entire idea of a multicolored coat seems to be that it is bright and eye-catching.

Update: I should clarify (and preempt, before any comments arrive) that many possible terutzim come to mind. E.g. everyone else wore knee-highs; these ketonet passim were not so long as to be considered the "very long skirts" condemned by Rabbi Falk; the daughters of bet David were frum, and so they wore it, but so did other frum girls. And so on and so forth. It is very easy to come up with terutzim. But the question should give us pause, and take stock, at the least, before coming up with the terutz. Our our tnius standards identical (in either direction) with those of the Avos?

Update 2: Anonymous (same one? different one throughout? that's why pseudonyms are so great) points out in the comment section the Rabbenu Bachya who cites a midrash (we do not know which) that it is because it was such a large garment that it covered his palms. Presumably this midrash in question is in Breishis Rabba 84:8, which reads (relevant portion in red, and large):

ועשה לו כתונת פסים
ריש לקיש בשם רבי אלעזר בן עזריה אמר:
צריך אדם שלא לשנות בן מבניו, שעל ידי כתונת פסים, שעשה אבינו יעקב ליוסף, וישנאו אותו וגו'.

פסים שהיתה מגעת עד פס ידו.

דבר אחר:
פסים
שהיתה דקה וקלה ביותר, ונטמנת בפס יד.

פסים
שהפיסו עליה, איזה מהם יוליכה לאביו, ועלת ליהודה.

פסים
על שם צרות שהגיעוהו,
פ"א פוטיפר
סמ"ך סוחרים
יו"ד ישמעאלים
מ"ם מדינים.

דבר אחר:
פסים
רבי שמעון בן לקיש בשם רבי אלעזר בן עזריה:
(תהלים סו) לכו וראו מפעלות אלהים.
וכתיב: בתריה (שם) הפך ים ליבשה.

למה וישנאו אותו?
בשביל שיקרע הים לפניהם.
פסים, פס-ים
Rabbenu Bachya writes (click here, page 76, midway down the right side -- the text in the image is underlined in red):
ולשון פסים אמרו במדרש על שם שהיתה גדולה ומכסה שתי פסותיו

In my critical edition of Rabbenu Bachya, the printed text is slightly different, and reads:
ולשון פסים אמרו במדרש על שם שהיתה גדולה ומכסה שתי פסות ידיו

I don't know if that is the meaning of מגעת עד פס ידו. Perhaps he is taking it as ad vead bichlal. Yachol Lihyot, though I would certainly not read it that way. But it seems to me we can read this quite readily into Daat Zekeinim miBaalei haTosafot, who says that the ketonet pasim were סביבות פס ידו. So point taken.

But this is not necessarily what Ibn Ezra means in his second peshat. Or what Shadal means. I agree it would make it difficult to do work, or pretty much anything, so one could well argue that this is what Shadal means. But I am not convinced that this was Shadal's intent. Indeed, it would probably be fairly annoying and not a maaleh. How are you supposed to pick up anything? Write? Turn doorknobs? Long sleeves, especially when they do not fit tightly, can get in the way of serious work plenty. And who says ad means ad bichlal?

Also, if we take it like this, then Rabbi Falk is still in trouble, because if we assume like Shadal and Lekach Tov, then it also was so long it covered the feet (pas regel). And Rabbi Falk writes at length about how the "very long skirt" is untzniusdik, to the extent that in discussing the modesty of Shaul (I have a post about this in the works) in wearing a long cloak, he takes pains to say that it was long, but not excessively long, for that would be untznius.

Update 3:
Regardless of the correct meaning, what is Daat Zekeinim seeing, and what is Rabbenu Bachya seeing, that make them explain like this? One possibility is the gemara in Menachot 11a:
אמר רב חופה שלש אצבעותיו עד שמגיע על פס ידו וקומץ
where it refers to bringing the fingers over against the palm of the hand to do kemitza.

Compare with שהיתה מגעת עד פס ידו. And perhaps they even hand a slight different in nusach in the midrash, replacing עד with על.

On the other hand, let us take a look at Rambam. In Mishneh Torah, when discussing the begadim of the kohanim, he writes:
טז] וכיצד מעשה הבגדים: הכותונת, בין של כוהן הדיוט בין של כוהן גדול--משובצת הייתה, שהיא בתים בתים באריגתה, כמו בית הכוסות, כדרך שעושין האורגין בבגדים הקשים. ובית יד שלה נארג בפני עצמו, ומחברין אותו עם גוף הכותונת בתפירה. [יז] אורך הכותונת, עד למעלה מן העקב. ואורך בית יד שלה, עד פס ידו; ורוחבו, כרוחב היד.

Would we say that the length of the sleeves of his begadim were such that they covered his palms? This would make the avodah a little difficult, I would think, besides making it look like the kohanim all had bad tailors. And compare with the length of the beged going down -- it reaches to above the ankle. Indeed, at the Temple Institute, they have a picture of the kohanim's begadim (see image to the right of the kohen gadol's begadim) -- and they are even selling them to be stored in closets of kohen hedyots in preparation for mashiach, and they have a picture there, which I reproduce to the right. Note how it does not cover the palms. Does anyone know the literature on this? Do people say the kohen gadol and kohen hedyot had their palms covered?

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Due to yoreid dorot, our tznius standards are lesser/worse than the avot. Surely they understood tznius more and therefore covered up more. I think it's heretical to think otherwise.

joshwaxman said...

are you serious about this; or giving out a terutz; or saying a joke? Unfortunately, plain text, especially when the poster is Anonymous, does not convey nuance.

perhaps we can turn the terutz around to make it workable in the other direction (not that I believe it to be true historically) -- due to Yeridas HaDoros, we *need* more protection in terms of tznius, to prevent us from acting on such impulses which the Avos could control, but we could not.

Not to mention that "ours" is *not* necessarily the "correct" standard of tznius. Who says that shirts to the knees is assur, when there are major poskim who would say otherwise? And so on, and so forth.

KT,
Josh

Anonymous said...

Look at the Rabbenu Bachyah Roshei teivos for pasim

joshwaxman said...

Thanks. Point taken. Also Daat Zekeinim miBaalei haTosafot. See my updated post.

Kol Tuv,
Josh

Joe in Australia said...

I will not overstate my regard for R' Falk, but in this instance perhaps he would say that there's a difference between the standards of tznius expected from people at home and people in the street. It would have been OK for Tamar to wear such a garment indoors, but not outside.

Alternatively, it would have been better if Tamar had worn a more modest garment indoors as well, but who could have anticipated that her own brother would be attracted to her? From this tragedy we can learn, &c.

joshwaxman said...

indeed, it's "pas nisht."

;)

We would have to read this into the pasuk that says that this was the standard dress of the Betulot of Bet David. But maybe we could, saying that this is part of the indignity, cast out of the house into the streets in her indoor garments (petticoats?). And how did she get to the house? This is evidence of the recent takkana that women of certain communities should wear an oiber-malbush. :)

I don't know that I buy it, but it is certainly fun to play with.

KT,
Josh

Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

I can't figure Rabbi Falk out (of course, I haven't spent nearly as much time trying as you do, Reb Josh).

On pg. 56 he writes:

Among the items sent was a nose-ring - see Breishis 24:47. Evidently, in those days a nose-ring was a refined and respectable piece of jewelry. Nonetheless, it goes without saying that, if a woman wore such an ornament within our society, she would be considered a prutza, as she would be adorning herself with something which is ostentatious and extremely unrefiened according to present-day norms. This underscores the point stated: places and times differ very much from one another, and one must not assume that everything which is acceptable in one society is likewise acceptable in another.

http://books.google.com/books?id=MY4xtbRlxWIC&printsec=frontcover&dq=falk+modesty#PPA56,M1

I am nto sure how consistently he applies this, especially in the other direction - but he does, in fact, admit (?) what he says here.

joshwaxman said...

Good point!
I actually didn't see that in his book until you pointed it out. Thanks. My impression is that he applies this to *styles* (and possibly only in one direction), rather than what he would consider meta-concerns of tznius, about exposed flesh or tantalizing glimpses. Thus, e.g., he darshens and stretches a Rashi to make veils non-tznius, and applies it to Biblical characters, such that Shaul could not possibly be wearing a "very long" cloak. And also talks about certain muted vs. vivid colors having an effect, which I think he would consider to span any cultural difference. On the other hand, he does say that in specific countries where everyone goes barefoot (and only there), it is perfectly acceptable to go barefooted, though in our countries, it is to be considered a part of the body normally covered, such that certain types of exposure of (parts of?) the foot would be problematic.

Ariella said...

on the feet: I haven't seen it inside, but I believe that the Mishna Berura directs one to put on socks under a cover so as not to expose the feet. Apparently, one did not wear sandals with no socks in Easter Europe at that time. However, it has become very common for women to go stockingless even when wearing formal outfits and dressy shoes. Thus stocking sales have been down and pedicure demand has been up. Stocking manufacturers have responded with toeless stockings that allow a woman toes to look bare even when she retains something on her feet. I suppose the main purpose is to reduce chafing as for the foot stockings cut to fit within the shoe but not beyond it.

But despite the change in societal norm, the BY schools still demand knee socks or tights coverage. And I would be rather surprised to see a woman exposing painted toes in Borough Park, which may be why there are so few nail places in evidence there (in contrast to the 5 Towns). In fact, based on minhag hamakom, it may indeed be a breach of tznius to wear sandal with no stockings in such parts of Brooklyn, though it would not be in many parts of Flatbush.

Ariella said...

On indoor vs. outdoor -- up until the mid-20th century, it was the norm for both men and women to wear hats out of doors. Women even wore gloves outside and inside for eveningwear, as did gentlemen. So there were certainly different standards of dress for inside and outside.

joshwaxman said...

true enough.

in terms of kesones pasim, in particular, though, in terms of indoor vs. outdoor, I would doubt it. after all, Yosef wore his ketones pasim to meet his brothers. unless one makes a distinction between men and women.

T. said...

Covering one's body is only a facet of the concept of Tznius. The Avos having a more complete understanding of the concept need not mean that they covered up more than we do (what, did they wear sheets draped over themselves, covering everything but their eyes? If so, how in the world did the shepherding get done?).

Phil said...

At the Shabbos table, my 8-year-old daughter told over what she learned in school: "...and some say that the ketones passim was a bracelet." Well, that threw me for a loop (pun intended). I looked it in the Living Torah and saw no such opinion. I was about to ask her to ask her teacher if she understood him correctly, but before I do, I wonder if the following statement you wrote, "But it seems to me we can read this quite readily into Daat Zekeinim miBaalei haTosafot, who says that the ketonet pasim were סביבות פס ידו." Can this in any way be translated as bracelet?

joshwaxman said...

Phil:

perhaps, if one takes it in the most literal manner. סביבות פס ידו means around the wrists of his hands.

But Daat Zekeinim was only translating the pasim part of the phrase. ketonet certainly means clothing. and it is difficult to say otherwise, as in the Biblical narrative, they stripped it off of him and dyed it in blood. he surely meant that it was a coat with sleeves.

But I agree that it is plausible that someone interpreted Daat Zekenim to mean this.

Joe in Australia said...

I wouldn't advance this suggestion if the word "pasim" were not totally obscure, but the very finest wool comes from goats in Kashmir (hence: cashmere) and it is called pashm, which is made into pashmina shawls which are so fine that they can reputedly be drawn through the opening of a woman's ring without creasing. Lest you wonder at the idea that a Persian word of this sort could enter Biblical Hebrew, you should keep in mind that (a) it is implicitly a very extravagant material; and (b) there was a lot more long-distance trade in luxuries (e.g., lapis lazuli from Afghanistan) than most people think.

Phil said...

Much appreciated, both of you.

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