Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Vaychi: Rashbam vs. Zohar on Deviating From The Parsha

Apparently, Rashbam was not among the yechidei segulah who learned kabbalah and Zohar. Either that or the Zohar was authored sometime after the Rashbam.

The end of Vayigash and the beginning of Vaychi read:
כז וַיֵּשֶׁב יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם, בְּאֶרֶץ גֹּשֶׁן; וַיֵּאָחֲזוּ בָהּ, וַיִּפְרוּ וַיִּרְבּוּ מְאֹד. 27 And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen; and they got them possessions therein, and were fruitful, and multiplied exceedingly.
כח וַיְחִי יַעֲקֹב בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם, שְׁבַע עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁנָה; וַיְהִי יְמֵי-יַעֲקֹב, שְׁנֵי חַיָּיו--שֶׁבַע שָׁנִים, וְאַרְבָּעִים וּמְאַת שָׁנָה. 28 And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years; so the days of Jacob, the years of his life, were a hundred forty and seven years.
and in his initial comments on the sidra, Rashbam writes:
ועיקר התחלת פרשה זו מן - וישב ישראל בארץ מצרים וגו' כי עליו מחובר ויחי יעקב אלא שלא רצו הקהילות לסיים פרשת ויגש בותהי הארץ לפרעה וסיימוה בוישב ישראל.

I am not sure if he considers יִשְׂרָאֵל in pasuk 27 to mean Israel the man or Israel the nation. His comment makes more sense if it is Israel the man, but this is an unlikely explanation of the pasuk; anyway, it makes perfect sense even if it means Israel the nation. It is not entirely clear if this comment is a record of historical happenings Rashbam is privy to, or (more likely IMHO) represents his educated guess.

Some {?} DH people put 27-28 as one source as an interjection into another source forming the rest of the perek; this might reflect something about Biblical style and what goes with what. That is, they are saying that there is indeed a sudden shift right before the pasuk Vayeshev Yisrael, thus echoing Rashbam's point, that the last pasuk in Vayigash seems disjoint with the preceding and akin to the following pasuk.

I also saw one commentator suggest that this was part of the reason that this is setuma -- so as to make this link.

I could argue with this stylistic assessment, against Rashbam. Perhaps it is a continuation of the idea in pasuk 11 and 12, after the interjection. And then Vaychi begins with Yaakov's age, as an introduction to the point of the sidra, which is his various blessings and his burial.

But note two points in Rashbam:
1) The original sidra division was a pasuk earlier -- by whom? he does not say.
2) But the kehillot, the communities, decided to move it one pasuk later.

If he is right, is this permissible? Or is this considered a violation of keeping to the divisions that Moshe Rabbenu established?

This brings us to Aruch Hashulchan, who paskens that such would not be permissible, based on his reading of a Zohar.

First, in Orach Chaim, siman 135, Aruch Hashulchan writes what is pictured to the right.

That is, he cites Rambam, perek 12 from Hilchot Tefillah that:

א מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ תִּקַּן לָהֶן לְיִשְׂרָאֵל, שֶׁיִּהְיוּ קוֹרִין בַּתּוֹרָה בָּרַבִּים בַּשַּׁבָּת וּבַשֵּׁנִי וּבַחֲמִישִׁי בַּשַּׁחְרִית, כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִשְׁהוּ שְׁלוֹשָׁה יָמִים, בְּלֹא שְׁמִיעַת תּוֹרָה. וְעֶזְרָא הַסּוֹפֵר תִּקַּן שֶׁיִּהְיוּ קוֹרִין כֵּן בַּמִּנְחָה בְּכָל שַׁבָּת, מִשּׁוֹם יוֹשְׁבֵי קְרָנוֹת; וְגַם, הוּא תִּקַּן שֶׁיִּהְיוּ הַקּוֹרִין בַּשֵּׁנִי וּבַחֲמִישִׁי שְׁלוֹשָׁה בְּנֵי אָדָם, וְלֹא יִקְרְאוּ פָּחוּת מֵעֲשָׂרָה פְּסוּקִים.

Now, I would say that this means that Moshe instituted the practice of laining these times. But instead, he interprets this into the Rambam that Moshe instituted what to read, every sidra in its proper time.

And he says the same in seif 2, that also within this decree of Moshe was to read each in its proper time.

How does he get the idea that this was part of the enactment of Moshe Rabbenu? He expands on this matter in a later siman. As we will see, the Aruch haShulchan is basing himself on a Zohar.

In Orach Chaim, siman 282, seif 2 and seif 3, Aruch Hashulchan writes {my translation}:

סימן רפב סעיף ב

וכבר נתבאר בריש סימן קל"ה, דמשה רבינו תיקן לישראל לקרות כל סדרה וסדרה בשבת שלה, וחלילה להחליף סדרה זו באחרת

And it was already explained in siman 135 that Moshe Rabbenu enacted for Israel to read each sidra in its own Shabbat, and forfend to switch one sidra with another.

ויש בתורה נ"ד סדרות, ובזוהר בכל מקום אומר נ"ג, ונראה לי דכוונתו הוא על [השבתים] (השבתות) שבהם קורים הסדרות, לאפוקי 'וזאת הברכה' שאין לה שבת אלא היא מיוחדת ליום טוב האחרון של חג הסוכות, בארץ ישראל - בשמיני עצרת, ובחוץ לארץ - בשמחת תורה. אבל כל הג"ן סדרות הם מיוחדים רק לשבתות השנה. ולפי שבשנה פשוטה ליכא נ"ג [שבתים] (שבתות), ולבד ימי יום טוב שחלו בשבת, דאז אין קורין הסדרה, ובשנה מעוברת יש יותר מנ"ג [שבתים] (שבתות) - ולכן יש סדרות המחוברים יחד, שקורין אותן שנים בשבת אחד.

And there is in the Torah 54 sidrot, and in the Zohar in every place it says 53. And it appears to me that his intent is on the Shabbats upon which they read the sidrot, to the exclusion of VeZot HaBeracha which does not have a Shabbat but which is designated for the last day of Yom Tov of Succot -- in Israel, on Shemini Atzeret, and outside the land, on Simchat Torah. But all the 53 sidrot are designated only to the Shabbats of the year. And because in a simple year there are not 53 Shabbats, and besides that there are days of Yom Tov which fall on Shabbat, at which point they do not read the sidra, and on a leap year there are more than 53 Shabbats -- and therefore, there are sidrot joined together, where they read two of them on one Shabbat.

וכבר נתבאר שם דאם על פי סיבה לא קראו הסדרה בשבת זו - שקורין אותה בשבת הבאה עם הסדרה השייך לה, ואפילו היו אז שתי סדרות - קורין גם הסדרה של שבת שעברה ע"ש

And it was already explained there that if, based on some circumstance, they did not read the sidra on this Shabbat, that they read it the subsequent Shabbat together with the sidra which is relevant to it. And even if then there were two sidrot {already joined together}, they also read the sidra of the previous Shabbat. See there.

סימן רפב סעיף ג

כתב הזוהר (ויקהל דף ר"ו:): "אסור ליה למאן דקרי באורייתא למיפסק פרשתא, או אפילו מילא חדא, אלא באתר דפסק משה פרשתא לעמא קדישא יפסיק וכו'" עכ"ל

The Zohar wrote (Vayakhel page 206b) that "it is forbidden for someone reading the Torah to be mifsak {break off} a 'parsha,' or even a single word, except in the place where Moshe pasak the parsha for the holy nation he should yafsik, etc." End quote.

ואין הכוונה על כל אחד מהקרואים שלא יפסיק אלא בפרשה, והיינו פתוחה או סתומה, דאם כן מאין נקח שבעה קרואים, שהרי יש סדרות שאין בהם כלל פתוחה או סתומה, כמו 'ויצא', 'מקץ', ויש שאין בהם רק פרשה אחת, כמו 'בלק', 'האזינו', והרבה סדרים יש שאין בהם ז' פרשיות. אלא הכוונה על תשלום הקרואים, שיסיימו ממש בסוף הסדרה, ולא קודם ולא מאוחר אפילו תיבה אחת, וכל שכן הרבה, כמו שמסיים אחר כך וזה לשונו:

And the intent is not on each of the readers that he should not break except by a parsha, and this would be by a petucha or setuma gap, for if so, from where will we take 7 readers, for behold there are sidrot which do not have in them at all a petucha or a setumah, such as Vayeitzei and Miketz, and there are those which only have a single parsha, such as Balak, Haazinu. And there are many sedarim which do not have in them 7 parshas.

Rather, the intent was on the complete readers, that they finish precisely at the end of the sidra, and not before it or after it a single word, and all the more so a lot, as he concludes after that, and this is his language:

"ולא יפסיק מילין דפרשתא דשבתא דא בפרשתא דשבתא אחרא... כיון דאשלימו הני למיפסק פרשיין דכל שתא ואתעטרו קמי קב"ה ואמרי אנא משבת פלוני מציבורא פלוני... ואסור לן לערבא אלין באלין... אפילו כמלא נימא ואפילו בחד תיבא וכו'" עכ"ל
"And he should not yafsik words of the parsha of this Shabbat in the parsha of another Shabbat... Once they finish being mifsak the parsha of the entire year, and they are crowned before Hashem, and say "I am from this Shabbat, from this community"... And it is forbidden for us to mix these with these... even a hairsbreadth, and even with one word, etc." End quote.

והקפידא הוא רק בשבת שחרית ולא במנחה ולא בב' וה', שאין הקריאות מן החשבון הכללי. וראיה, שהרי בשבת שחרית חוזרין וקורין אותן הפרשיות עצמן, וזה כמו קריאת ראש חודש ומועדים

And this insistence is only at Shabbat Shacharit, but not at Mincha or on Monday and Thursday, for these readings are not from this count. And a proof to this is that at Shabbat Shacharit, we return and read those very parshiyot themselves, and this is like the readings for Rosh Chodesh and Moadim.

(עיין מג"א, וזה שאמרו בברכות י"ב:: 'כל פרשה דלא פסקה משה - לא פסקינן', היינו לעשותה בקביעות כן, כמו פסוקי בלק שבקשו לקבוע בקריאת שמע ע"ש. אבל במנחה בשבת ובשני וחמישי, דאחר כך בשבת משלימין - לית לן בה, ורק באמצע פסוק אסור, כדאמרינן בתענית כ"ב:. ומה שאמרו במגילה כ"ט. דבמערבא פסקי לתלת שנין, האמת כן, דהם לא חשו לזה, ולכן באמת לא נתפשט מנהגם, וכל ישראל משלימין בשנה אחת. וזה שבמקדש היו מחלקים פרשת האזינו - התם לא היה בשביל לימוד התורה לכל ישראל, אלא הלוים בשיר היו מנגנים, כדאיתא בראש השנה ל"א. ע"ש ודו"ק)

See Magen Avraham, and this is what they said in Berachot 12b: Every parsha which Moshe did not break off, we do not break. This is to do it so as established, such as the pesukim of Balak which they wished to establish in Keriat Shema, see there. But on Mincha of Shabbat, and on Monday and Thursday, which we complete afterwards on Shabbat, we have no concern, and only {are concerned about breaking} in the middle of a pasuk, as we say in Taanit 22b.

And this which they said in Megillah 29a, that in Eretz Yisrael they break it into three years, the truth is indeed so, that they were not concerned for this, and therefore, indeed, their custom did not spread, and {now} all of Israel complete in a single year. And this that in the Mikdash we divide the parsha of Haazinu -- there, it was not because of teaching Torah to all of Israel, but rather the Leviim were singing it in song, as is so in Rosh Hashanah 31a. See there.

The Zohar in question is here. It is clear that it means what we call a sidra, because it talks of all of the parshiyot of the year (see רל). And also because in רלא we see reference to the 53 of them, which is how Zohar refers to the parshiyot in the year.

If so, and if Rashbam is simultaneously correct, then we will be violating this injunction when we lain this coming Shabbos. We broke off Vayigash in the wrong place, and we start Vayechi in the wrong place! How could the communities have decided to do this? Either Rashbam is right, and the communities did not pay heed to the Zohar (and indeed the gemara, which has the statement the Zohar is "explaining"). Or Rashbam is wrong in his statement of what the kehillot did.

Now here is an interesting point. The Zohar refers to these as parshiyot. However, the way Chazal referred to it, a parsha was the thing broken off by petuchot or setumot, or else was the standard weekly reading of the Bnai Maarava, namely this 1/3 reading which Aruch Hashulchan denounces on the basis of this Zohar. In contrast, the sidra is the weekly reading as in Bavel.

See Dr. Steinfeld's article which touches on this matter (in understanding a specific gemara about leining), and my class notes from his class.

As such, why would Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai use the incorrect term for what he is referring to? He should call them sidrot, not parshiyot. And as above, he clearly means sidrot. On the other hand, if it is Rabbi Moshe de Leon, it makes sense that he would use the term which developed in later Rabbinic Hebrew, parsha. Just as he made a derasha on Esnoga, which is Ladino, and just as he makes a derasha on the orthography of the zarka, which did not exist yet.

If you want to claim that he intended parsha as Chazal did, then we would be in violation; besides which, we have the yearly cycle and the reference to the 53 of them.

Also, I would not be so quick to criticize the conduct of the Bnei Maarava. As it seems to me from the above article, the Tannaim of Eretz Yisrael (perhaps even Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai) lained it such. And surely they, and the Amora'ei Eretz Yisrael, as well, are people who knew what is what. And why are we assuming that these Babylonian weekly sidra divisions were from Moshe, but not the Eretz-Yisraelite weekly parsha divisions?

Finally, it seems rather apparent to me that the Zohar is extending, or reinterpreting (misinterpreting?) the halacha brought down in that gemara in Berachot. That gemara reads פרשה דפסקה משה רבינו פסקינן דלא פסקה משה רבינו לא פסקינ.
R. Abbahu b. Zutrathi said in the name of R. Judah b. Zebida: They wanted to include the section of Balak in the Shema', but they did not do so because it would have meant too great a burden for the congregation. Why [did they want to insert it]? — Because it contains the words, God who brought them forth out of Egypt. Then let us say the section of usury or of weights in which the going forth from Egypt is mentioned? — Rather, said R. Jose b. Abin, [the reason is] because it contains the verse, He couched, he lay down as a lion, and as a lioness; who shall rouse him up? Let us then say this one verse and no more? — We have a tradition that every section which our master, Moses, has divided off we may divide off, but that which our master, Moses, has not divided off, we may not divide off.
The idea in that gemara was in terms of ritual reading of Shema, where one cannot simply read a pasuk without those in context in the parsha. And yet, every chapter in Shema does not form its own sidra! Rather, these are parshiyot in the sense of sections formed by petuchot and setumot gaps. The Zohar is using identical language, but for an entirely different purpose. To believe this is so, we would need to say that the identical language was used for two different purposes, for two different meanings of "parsha," and where the word parsha is actually an error -- it should read sidra.

My own conclusion here is that we do not need to pay heed to the Zohar on this; and that we should take care not to read the Zohar into Rambam or earlier sources such as the gemara. Even so, there are traditions of which parsha to read when, and it is a good thing to keep to it, and to keep with what all of klal Yisrael are doing.

And in terms of Rashbam, I am not convinced that he is correct that the parsha lines were redrawn here in parshat Vayechi.

2 comments:

Jeremy said...

Great post. Very interesting. As for why we'd assume that Babylonian divisions are more authentic than the ones from EY- there seems to be a theme of elitism coming from Bavel that their traditions/halakhot/yichus is more authentic than the nebuch people who were left in EY.

b said...

There's a big problem with your logic in the first paragraph.Many rabbonim whom we know learned zohar wrote peshatim and paskened diffrently that it.It doesn't prove the rashbam didn't learn it or that it was written later.We know for example on shavous night we learn all night ,and the zohar mentions it.Ans even when we know the zohar was published.Most people or rabbinim didn't make a whole thing out of it.

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