Friday, August 14, 2009

Who was the Baal HaTurim's Woman?

Another great parsha devar Torah at Revach. He writes:

"Ki Yakum BiKirbicha Navi"; When there will be among you a False Navi who will tell you to worship Avodah Zara...This False Navi shall be put to death" The Baal Haturim states on the words," BiKirbicha" - It is the same Gematria as "Zeh HaIshah" - "This is referring to the woman". What's the pshat in this puzzling Baal Haturim?

Rabbi Akiva Eiger explains, in the time of the Baal Haturim there were many missionaries who were trying to convince the Jews that Christianity was the correct religion. They even went as far as bringing proofs from the Torah. To refute this, the Baal Haturim said, the words "BiKirbicha Navi" has the same Gematria as "Zeh HaIshah UBnah" - in the parsha of Navi Sheker (A False Navi) it alludes to "The woman and her son" - referring to Yoshkeh and his mother. The censors got a hold of this Baal Haturim and took out the word "UBnah" and that's why it only said, "Zeh HaIshah". Later this whole Baal Haturim was removed and can only be found in old manuscripts.

That is, the first word, Bekirbecha, works out to HaIsha, but we can continue the quote to the second word and get Navi, which is the same gematria as Uvenah. And this anti-Christian message was the initial intent of the Baal Haturim, which was lost through successive censorings.

I am not sure if Rabbi Akiva Eiger is saying this as a sevarah or as something he has firsthand knowledge of (or tradition from firsthand knowledge). But we see the same idea propounded in the Baal HaTurim HaAruch:
כי יקום בקרבך נביא. [שמעתי מרב
אחד, שבספר הגמטריאות מרבינו המחבר
היה כתוב, ״נביא״ בגימטריא ״ובגד.״, והושמט
בדפוסים, המו״ל דפוס הנובר]ש

I have not had the opportunity to examine kitvei yad of Baal Haturim myself, so perhaps someone who has access to them can tell whether this is in fact so. If it is so, there is nothing more to say, but if not, I have what to say. As the saying goes, אם קבלה נקבל ואם לדין יש תשובה.

Looking at the Baal Haturim inside, in our printed editions, it would be rather surprising for this to be removed by the censors but not other remarks, such as equating certain gentiles to animals, a bit later on the same page. Perhaps the motivation for censorship was particularly religion -- this could account for it, but I am still somewhat surprised.

The Baal Haturim says in full context what is pictured to the right. And the context is important. Besides saying that bekirbecha is the same gematria as haisha, he also notes that the end of this section on navi sheker, in pasuk 6, leads into ki yesitecha in pasuk 7. Thus:
ו וְהַנָּבִיא הַהוּא אוֹ חֹלֵם הַחֲלוֹם הַהוּא יוּמָת, כִּי דִבֶּר-סָרָה עַל-ה' אֱלֹהֵיכֶם הַמּוֹצִיא אֶתְכֶם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם וְהַפֹּדְךָ מִבֵּית עֲבָדִים--לְהַדִּיחֲךָ מִן-הַדֶּרֶךְ, אֲשֶׁר צִוְּךָ ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ לָלֶכֶת בָּהּ; וּבִעַרְתָּ הָרָע, מִקִּרְבֶּךָ. {ס}6 And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken perversion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of bondage, to draw thee aside out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put away the evil from the midst of thee.{S}
ז כִּי יְסִיתְךָ אָחִיךָ בֶן-אִמֶּךָ אוֹ-בִנְךָ אוֹ-בִתְּךָ אוֹ אֵשֶׁת חֵיקֶךָ, אוֹ רֵעֲךָ אֲשֶׁר כְּנַפְשְׁךָ--בַּסֵּתֶר לֵאמֹר: נֵלְכָה, וְנַעַבְדָה אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים, אֲשֶׁר לֹא יָדַעְתָּ, אַתָּה וַאֲבֹתֶיךָ.7 If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, that is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying: 'Let us go and serve other gods,' which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;
and this tells you that you should not heed the meisit.

I think this continuating is very telling.

I would posit that Baal Haturim originally intended haIsha, and this was not a reference to the virgin Mary. And he never wrote about Yushke. Rather, this is a reference to the Aristotelian concept of Chomer, matter. In allegorical philosophical derash of certain Rishonim, the woman refers to Matter while the man refers to Tzurah, Form (and associated to this, Intellect).

The Baal Haturim is highlighting the word bekirbecha, within you, not to mean among the assembled Israelites, but rather within the person himself, within his Intellect. And there should not arise within your Intellect (sechel) thoughts associated with Chomer, Matter, who is "the woman."

I am not making this up. This is precisely how the Baal HaTurim's contemporary, Ibn Caspi, explains a cryptic Ibn Ezra in the next section about the meisis, that in achicha ben imecha, it is a reference to the woman, who is matter, while the father is form. See my post on this.

And indeed, this is where context comes in. See how Baal Haturim continues, connecting the words וּבִעַרְתָּ הָרָע מִקִּרְבֶּךָ with כִּי יְסִיתְךָ. The point is that mikirbecha means that this is arising within you, in your intellect, and the reader, knowledgeable of the discussion on כִּי יְסִיתְךָ, is clued in to Baal HaTurim's meaning.

I wonder whether the רב אחד, or Rabbi Akiva Eiger, was aware of this discussion with with Ibn Ezra's comments on the meisis. After all, the entire enterprise of philosophical derash has fallen out of vogue. Does it carry over to kabbalistic interpretations of these pesukim? And if so, would they be aware of the kabbalistic connotations? I don't know.

And of course, as noted above, if it actually does say uvena in a manuscript Baal HaTurim, then this whole theory is nullified.

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