Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Oo as Oh -- a reanalysis of Ibn Ezra on Behaalosecha

Last year I grappled with a difficult Ibn Ezra, and I think I did a pretty good job. The pasuk stated that
יג וְהָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר-הוּא טָהוֹר וּבְדֶרֶךְ לֹא-הָיָה, וְחָדַל לַעֲשׂוֹת הַפֶּסַח--וְנִכְרְתָה הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַהִוא, מֵעַמֶּיהָ: כִּי קָרְבַּן ה', לֹא הִקְרִיב בְּמֹעֲדוֹ--חֶטְאוֹ יִשָּׂא, הָאִישׁ הַהוּא.13 But the man that is clean, and is not on a journey, and forbeareth to keep the passover, that soul shall be cut off from his people; because he brought not the offering of the LORD in its appointed season, that man shall bear his sin.
and Ibn Ezra stated that

That is, that "and" means "or." But this makes little sense since Ibn Ezra would not say their either being pure yet distant, or close but impure, and yet does not bring the Pesach, will get karet. Obviously only if there is no impediment and yet he does not bring it will there be a sin.

Avi Ezer's commentary that it is a phonological point seems rather unlikely, and in the post I explored various scenarios. Now I see that many of them are summarized in Mechokekei Yehuda (page 11), a supercommentary on Ibn Ezra, but he has slightly more, and he might say it differently, and so I decided that this would make a nice followup.

In his shorter commentary, Yahel Or, he states:
(7) And the Mekor Chaim {?} explains the position of the scholar {=Ibn Ezra} za"l is that it is not speaking about Pesach Rishon but rather Pesach Sheni. And the intent is that the man who is pure but was distant on Pesach Rishon; or was not on the road but was impure on Pesach Rishon, and refrained from making a Pesach Sheni, that person's soul will be cut off. And see Karnei Ohr.

In Karnei Or, he writes:
The explanations of the commentary of the scholar, za"l on this pasuk are many. The commentor נתה"ש and רש"ב and Avi Ezri all as one explain that the intent of the scholar za"l is to teach about the reading of the vav of uvderech, that it is like "oo" with a shuruk, and not with a shva as with its regular rule, and the proof is in the word "umakeh."

And the Mishtadel {=Shadal} poured out words of scorn and mocking on all of them, and this is his language:
וראב"ע אגב שיטפיה לא דק, ופירש: ובדרך או בדרך. והמבאר הבין כי זה שיבוש גדול ונדחק ליישב דבריו ואמר שכוונתו ללמדנו קריאת וי"ו שורק בראש תבה (!!), והמעמר ראה והבין כי הבל המה הדברים הללו של המבאר, והתמיה עליו ופירש דברי ראב"ע על אמיתתם ולא ראה השיבוש היוצא מהם ולא הבין מה זה ועל מה זה נדחק המבאר לפרש כך

"And Ibn Ezra because of his hurry was not careful, and he explained uvderech as "or on the derech." And the commentator understood that this was a great error, and he took pains to explain his {=Ibn Ezra's} words and said that his intent was to teach us the reading of the vav as a shuruk at the beginning of the word. And the Maamer {?} saw and understood that these words of the commentator were nonsense, and was shocked upon him, and explained the words of Ibn Ezra according to their true import {=that it meant "or"}, but did not see the error which comes out of them, not did he understand upon what the commentator was forced to explain it so." End quote.

And so writes the scholar יש"ר and these are his words:
"And it is known what the commentators claim against him, for it is difficult in their eyes to explain uvderech as or is not on a journey. For behold, according to the law, one is only liable to karet if he did not have even one of these two preventing situations from making the Pesach, and still refrained and did not make it. And if so he needs to be ritually pure and also (not "or") that he was not on a long journey, in order to be liable to karet. Therefore the mevaer of נתה"ש that Ibn Ezra intended the pronunciation of vav as shurik at the beginning of the word. And the מעמר established that the Ibn Ezra intended to say "or on the road" but did not feel the question that we mentioned. And the Mishtadel {=Shadal} wrote that Ibn Ezra, because of his hurry, was not careful." End quote.
And behold I explained in Yahel Ohr in accordance with the second explanation of the author of Mekor HaChaim {?} at the end. And so explains the Mincha Belulah, and so explains the scholar יש"ר, and he wrote:
"However, it seems more correct to me to say that Ibn Ezra explained in truth as in "or on the road," and even with all this, the law is with him, for he saw in his wisdom that the verse was speaking specifically about Pesach Sheni, and not Pesach Rishon. For behold, it states nearby {the next pasuk},
יד וְכִי-יָגוּר אִתְּכֶם גֵּר, וְעָשָׂה פֶסַח לַה'--כְּחֻקַּת הַפֶּסַח וּכְמִשְׁפָּטוֹ, כֵּן יַעֲשֶׂה: חֻקָּה אַחַת יִהְיֶה לָכֶם, וְלַגֵּר וּלְאֶזְרַח הָאָרֶץ. {ס}14 And if a stranger shall sojourn among you, and will keep the passover unto the LORD: according to the statute of the passover, and according to the ordinance thereof, so shall he do; ye shall have one statute, both for the stranger, and for him that is born in the land.' {S}
and it does not continue on to command him to circumcise every male as it did in parshat Bo, from there he judged that only new laws regarding Pesach Sheni are mentioned here.
And the explanation of

the verse, according to his position (see Yahel Ohr) is that if so, the verse comes to inform that if he refrains from making Pesach Sheni, he is liable to karet just as one who refrains from making Pesach Rishon. And this is the novelty which is being introduced here. And according to Ibn Ezra, it is not possible to explain venichreta as referring to Pesach Rishon, for then it would be difficult why it mentions the penalty of karet and does not mention the requirement of circumcision for a convert? But if the entire parsha speaks of Pesach Sheni, all comes out correctly and precisely.

And it appears that even the author of Betzer Olelot agrees to this explanation, see his words שס' and Harav HaGaon M' Mordechai Rabinowitz מהקידל {?} (HeAsif 646) after him {?} goes at length to explain that we are not able to explain the verse as referring to Pesach Sheni, in according with the position of the Mekor Chaim {?} and the Mincha Belulah, for many reasons, and that this is not correct, for according to this, behold we do not find karet explicit for one who nullifies deliberately from making Pesach Rishon, but only that we derive karet for Pesach Rishon from Pesach Sheni. And he goes at length further to bring convincing proofs that if we explain so, the words of Ibn Ezra would be against the Talmud, see there.

And he explains that the words of the Ibn Ezra are extremely correct, and he explains and refines the matter based on that which the Rambam in his commentary of the Mishna (beginning of the 9th perek of Pesachim), and these are his words:
"When he was impure, or on a long journey on Pesach Rishon and did not do the Second, he is not liable to karet, for he was exempt from Pesach Rishon about which it is said the language of karet, and it is pushed off to Pesach Sheni about which it is not said the language of karet. And if he unintentionally {shogeg} or accidentally {ones} for Pesach Rishon and {still} did not do the Second, he is liable to karet, for the language of the Torah is that whoever was not impure, or on a long journey and {then} did not make the Pesach at all is liable to karet. And He said, Yitbarach, "and the man who is pure and was not on the road, etc." End quote.
Behold it is for us explained that also the Rambam explains the aforementioned pasuk like the Ibn Ezra, and like the Rambam was precise in his golden language and said "for the language of the Torah is that whoever was not impure or on a long journey, etc.," and does not say "whoever was not impure and was not on a long journey." And if so, there is to explain nicely that the intent of the Ibn Ezra is to explain the aforementioned verse simply like the words of the Rambam. And the foundations of his explanation rest on the peshat and on the halacha. And there is no twisting and making crooked in his words now.

See there where he goes at length to explain the verse, according to the position of Rambam. And I was compelled to go on at length in this against the one who says that the scholar {=Ibn Ezra}, za"l.
Having read all this, I am fairly convinced that Rabbi Rabinowitz's explanation is the correct, for it works out with an early source, the Rambam, and with the pasuk. It would seem, then, that the explanation is that the first part of the pasuk, וְהָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר-הוּא טָהוֹר וּבְדֶרֶךְ לֹא-הָיָה, refers to not making the Pesach Rishon, but that he did not make it BeShogeg, yet was encompassed within the initial rule while not yet being chayav karet. Thus, if וְחָדַל לַעֲשׂוֹת הַפֶּסַח, referring to Pesach Sheni, then karet kicks in.

I am not convinced by the "problem" that Ibn Ezra would be against the gemara, though. This would not be the first gemara or halacha that Ibn Ezra's peshat would be against.

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