Thursday, June 04, 2009

Some more takes on Ibn Ezra's "sod"

While we are discussing various supercommentaries of Ibn Ezra, and what they thought of the meaning of Ibn Ezra's sod, I thought that for the sake of completeness I would provide the position of R' Shmuel Motot as to the meaning of Ibn Ezra. And while I was add it, I would add the Karaites as well.

Rabbi Shmuel Motot's interpretation (right, four lines from the bottom) is fairly close to that we have already seen, though not precisely. He writes 
And the word hamarim is an adjective; if so, its sod is known -- the intent is that the kohen puts things which make the water bitter in her mouth, in order to start off that wonder, when she becomes panicked {?} from the bitterness. And there is in {masechet} Sotah a position close to this {, that of the father of Shmuel}.
We can see a similar position among the Karaites, in their interpretation of Ibn Ezra. Aharon ben Yosef the Karaite writes to
explain the dikduk, and takes a position like that of Ramban and against Ibn Ezra. He writes at the close of it, "and some say that they placed in it something bitter, and it does not seem so."

The supercommentary on Aharon ben Yosef {in Rashi script} explains that this is a reference to Ibn Ezra, who said "and the word hamarim is an adjective; if see its sod is known." End quote.

Torah Temimah does not quote Ibn Ezra by name, but he effectively recreates his perush, first quoting the gemara in Sotah about speaking about putting something bitter into it, and then leads into the derivation, or rather how the pasuk is being read: the adjective after the construct noun. It stands to reason that he either understands this in Ibn Ezra, or else the fact that a brilliant scholar can use similar words and derivation and create this lends credence to the interpretation. The image to the right, by the way, does not include the citation of the father of Shmuel in Sotah, but he does indeed cite it. Then, as a commentary on it, he says what he says.

My point is that there are a whole lot of people out there seeing Ibn Ezra's words, and many of them are rather good scholars, and they all see the same thing in Ibn Ezra, that he is hinting to the kohen administering "bitter" ingredients to the woman somehow. They differ in their specific spin. I do not see anyone alleging that this is kabbalah that we do not know and therefore refrain for attempting commentary, because of fear of the theological repercussions of the (non-kabbalistic) explanation. Indeed, Shadal has the most extreme commentary, but he does not adopt it; rather, he turns around and condemns Ibn Ezra for it.

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