Thursday, May 07, 2009

The day after the Shabbat, pt v: Shadal, Kuzari, Ibn Ezra, and the secret

Having finished Rav Hirsch and Rambam's nice defense of the Rabbinic position, we now turn to Shadal and Ibn Ezra.

Shadal claims that despite the lengthy explanation given by Ibn Ezra, all the commentary there is mere illusion/sleight of hand, and Ibn Ezra (and the author of the Kuzari as well) really maintains that the Karaites are quasi-correct, except that Shabbat as Saturday was but an example, but that the Israelites are really empowered to choose any day. And that this is what Chazal did, when they chose another day, namely the day after the first day of Yom Tov. And that this is what it means lirtzonechem, mimacharat hashabbat, that it is their court, in the pasuk:
יא וְהֵנִיף אֶת-הָעֹמֶר לִפְנֵי יְהוָה, לִרְצֹנְכֶם; מִמָּחֳרַת, הַשַּׁבָּת, יְנִיפֶנּוּ, הַכֹּהֵן. 11 And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you; on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.
And that this is the meaning of Ibn Ezra's riddle on the matter. In Shadal's own words:
ממחרת השבת : בעל הכוזרי ( מאמר ג', מ"א ) אומר שייתכן להודות לקראים כי ממחרת השבת הכוונה לשבת בראשית , ושאמנם קצת מן השופטים והסנהדרין חשבו שלא הזכירה התורה השבת אלא דרך משל , ואמנם הרשות ביד האומה להחל חרמש ביום שתרצה , והם ( השופטים והסנהדרין ) קבעו שתהיה התחלת הקציר ביום שני של פסח . ודע כי כל אריכות לשונו של הראב " ע על הפסוק הזה איננה אלא אחיזת עינים , ועיקר סברתו היא כדעת בעל הכוזרי שהשבת האמור כאן הוא שבת ממש , אלא שלא הזכירה התורה יום השבת רק לדוגמא , והרשות בידנו להניף את העומר ביום שנרצה , וזה טעם לרצונכם לדעת ראב " ע בחידתו .
First, the Kuzari, where the siman begins here, but starting two pages later on page 101.
Ibn Ezra is indeed lengthy, but perhaps we should only focus, in this post, on that segment Shadal claims is most telling of his final position.

Thus, the Kuzari suggests that from the fifty day count, the intent was a fifty-day gap between the bikkurim of the ketzir seorim and that of chitim. And the Torah gave an example, choosing a day of the week, in this case Sunday. And then showing that it would reach until a Sunday seven weeks hence. And the same, implicitly, for any other day of the week. And Chazal then established that that first day (which was left Biblically unrequired, by any pasuk) should be the second day of Pesach, and this does not contradict anything in any verse. (Though it would not be the plain meaning, or perhaps even the meaning, of the verse.) And this establishment, we are obligated to accept as binding, for reasons described elsewhere; and perhaps this establishment was even via prophecy from the Creator.

As such, he admits to the Karaites, but then shifts at the last moment by saying it is a dugma. He summarizes various arguments and explains what the maamin can answer, but at the end of it all, he writes:
והנה ארמוז לך סוד אחד, שכל המועדים תלוים ביום ידוע מהחדש ולא נאמר בחג השבועות (מספר) (ס"א יום מועד), בעבור הספירה שהיא מצוה וחז"ל העתיקו, כי בחג שבועות היה מתן תורה ועליו נאמר: כי חג ה' לנו.

יש אומרים:
כי כל לרצונכם פירושו: להיות לכם לרצון בעבור והניף את העומר לפני ה' לרצונכם וטעמו שתניפו ברצונכם.
והטעם שתתנו כבש בן שנתו, כדי שתהיו נרצים.
Thus, all other festivals have a specific day in the month given, while this does not, because it is a command upon Chazal to enact and establish it, because it is the giving of the Torah, and upon it is said "for a festival of Hashem is to us." Some say that all lirtzonechem has the explanation that it should be for you for {your} ratzon, because of "and you shall wave the omer before Hashem {in accordance} with your will," and its meaning it that you shall wave it according to your will. Etc.

I believe Shadal is right, that Ibn Ezra is saying that Chazal have the right to establish the beginning of the count whenever they want. If so, after Shabbat could be cast as a mere example.

Perhaps the back and forth inside Ibn Ezra in a different post.

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