Thursday, November 26, 2009

Posts so far for parshat Vayeitzei

  1. Vayeitzei sources -- links by aliyah and perek to an online Mikraos Gedolos, as well as over 100 meforshim on the parsha and aliyah, grouped into categories such as masorah, rashi supercommentators, and so on.

  2. Once again, how is Vayeitzei setumah? I discuss how Minchas Shai and Or Torah harmonize the conflicting traditions in a way that makes our present texts entirely accurate -- that by Vayeitzei rather than Vaychi, it is talking about a lack of internal gap rather than initial gap. But then I point out that in Codex Hilleli (contrary toMinchas Shai), it *does* seem to mention a lack of initial gap as a primary possibility; and Ibn Caspi and Chizkuni also assume a lack of initial gap ; and perhaps also Aharon ben Yosef.

    For earlier posts on the matter, scroll down and see my description of posts from previous years.

  3. Is there a gap before Vayelech Reuven? I think I agree that there should not be. But if it were present, it would cause us to reject the interpretation of vayeitzei as setuma as merely lacking internal gaps, rather than an initial gap.

  4. The meaning of Yaakov's dream -- what various meforshim believe it is. Perhaps it is literal, with no "significance". Or perhaps there is a philosophical pnimiyus. Another approach is to attempt to determine what these symbols meant in the Ancient Near East.

  5. Moral lessons from parshas Vayeitzei -- from Ralbag. We could learn kibbud av vaEm, zerizus, and not putting oneself in danger. This gives us insight into how Ralbag interpreted the narrative, as well. Though I could take issue with some of his interpretations.

  6. Why did Yaakov prefer Rachel? In part, because she was pretty! But Ralbag has more respectable reasons.

  7. How many stones did Yaakov put about his head? Was it one, or many? And how not just Ibn Ezra, but the vast majority of meforshim, part ways with Chazal here, and reject the midrashic interpretation on the peshat level.

  8. Did Ibn Ezra insult ben Ephraim the Karaite by calling him a cow? Or just an unlearned person. The merits of each interpretation.
  1. Why was Levi called Levi? A late pun once the name Levi exists?

  2. Did Rachel Really Cover Herself With Sheep, Historically? And does this obligate us nowadays in anything? Rabbi Falk taking a rather late midrash at face value, rather than assuming that there are values being read into the Biblical narrative by the midrashist.

  3. Did Yaakov Stray After His Eyes In Preferring Rachel? So says Rabbenu Bachya. I am not so sure I agree, as a matter of peshat.

  4. Vayeitzei sources -- links by aliyah and perek to an online Mikraot Gedolot.

  5. Malachim as Angels or Human -- first in Vayera, what of the malachim who met with Avraham and Lot? And then in Vayeitzei and Vayishlach -- what of the malachim in Yaakov's dream, the ones he encountered at Machanayim, and the ones he sent to Esav?

  6. When Yaakov kissed Rachel, was it derech chibba? On I peshat level, I would say that it was not.

  7. Why did Rachel blame Yaakov for her difficulty in conceiving? Ralbag offers a fascinating suggestion.

  8. How exactly is the "parsha" of Vayeitzei "setuma"? Not as per the gloss on the Baal HaTurim, I think.

  9. Did Rachel really cover herself with sheep? Why a late midrash by the Ben Ish Chai should not establish normative Jewish practice.

  10. And as a followup, the Ben Ish Chai's statement that Rachel wore a veil, based on a paseik. But it is not a paseik! It is a munach legarmeih. But besides this, it seems that this reflected normative practice in the time and place of Ben Ish Chai. So Ben Ish Chai took his normative practice (that is, of his time and place) and attributed it in a midrash to Rachel. We should not then take it from the midrash and apply it to ourselves, to establish our normative practice.
  1. Where did Yaakov sleep? And from where the motivation to make this the makom hamikdash as opposed to Bet El?

  2. Did Yaakov Promise a Temple at Bet El? Related to the above, and the troubling idea of him doing so, given the eventual alternate Temple at Bet El. And in Vayishlach, Shadal develops the idea that the eventual construction of the Temple at Bet El provides an early date for the Torah's authorship.

  3. Is Lifting the Stone off the Well a Superhuman Feat? Two possibilities on a peshat level, and I am not certain which one works better on a peshat level -- the one minimizing the superhuman feat or the one which works better with the theme of the text. I prefer the latter.

  4. Rav Moshe Feinstein on the Avot Keeping the Torah -- is there some meaningful message here, or is it historical?

  5. Is Vayechi unique in being introduced with no gap? There are a bunch of posts here on parshablog on the issue of that gap in Vayechi. But is there similarly no gap by Vayeitzei? We will have to clarify, perhaps in other posts in 2008.

  6. Was Gad, the son of Yaakov, named after the deity? And the related krei and ktiv.
  1. Was Lavan Right To Move The Sheep? Speculation about Lavan and Yaakov's arrangement, specifically which sheep were to belong to Yaakov, and reasons for moving the sheep far away.

  2. Helping Giant Pandas Conceive -- using panda pornography. How Yaakov did a similar thing, and how we can understand וַיֵּחַמְנָה and וַיֶּחֱמוּ as "went into heat."

  3. How Old Was Rachel? A video, and text, post. 14 years old. And the influences on this midrash, and the theme of this midrash of being fated, and made for each other. And how this fits in with the 3 year old Rivkah.
  • Twelve Boys and Only One Girl?
    • Cross-listed to Vayishlach. I discuss the possibility that Dinah was not the only girl, but was named because of the Incident With Dinah a bit later. But then scientifically, the possibility that the Avot in general did not have girls because, apparently, the longer before one has a child, the less likely one is to have a girl.

  • Triple Etiologies for Place Names
    • Cross-listed to Vayishlach. Triple Etiologies for Peniel, Machanayim.
  • Who Named Levi?
    • I take on Anchor Bible smoothing emendation of the text, discussing whether קרא is passive ("he was called"), past tense third person singular ("he," meaning Yaakov or "He" meaning Hashem), or a final possibility that it is really קראה. Speiser in Anchor Bible chose a local optimum, emending it to "she," based on Samaritan and LXX. I show that firstly, this is a harmonizing emendation, to Samaritan and LXX which go for harmonizations are not necessarily evidence of another textual tradition; that actually no emendation of the unvocalized Masoretic text is necessary to get at "she"; and finally, that the emendation only finds a local optimum, and if we want to emend the text, we should emend the other קראה to match this קרא, as passive, based on a global usage.

  • Binyamin's Name
    • Binyamin's name in Hebrew and Aramaic. For Vayishlach, but a note at the end which ties this in to Vayeitzei, in terms of Gal-Ed.

  • An Amharic Hebrew Congnate for Vayeitzei/Vayishlach
    • lakä, ‘send’, found in malach, angel or messenger.

  • The Stone Pillow
    • and how the Egyptians, just like Yaakov, used stone pillows. However, from what I've seen since this post, though I cannot find the reference, it seems that there were actually real pillows they put on these headrests. Just that those pillows decayed into nothing, such that eventually they found a few, but until then, people thought the Egyptians actually used stone pillows. If so, a prime example about how absence of evidence is not equal to evidence of absence.

  • Kissing Cousins
    • Chazal on premarital kissing.
  1. Dual Etymologies for Names -- which includes discussion of the two meanings of Machanayim

  2. An Interesting Midrash In Targum Yonatan on Bereishit 28:12; about the two angels who went to Sodom in parshat Vayera. Yaakov now sees them ascend to Heaven. Does this bolster the two angels accompanying Hashem reading? See the post inside.
  1. Rachel the Wrestler, Yaakov the Wrestler -- and how they struggled with both Hashem and with people.

  2. Kefitzat HaDerech: Going Somewhere Fast, But Where? an analysis of some of the sources. To Bet-el, to Charan.

    I don't cover Rabbenu Bachya here, who I recently noticed has an interesting take.

  3. An alternative to the Rav's explanation of Targum Yonatan on Bereishit 32:3 (2002); in which I take issue with a devar Torah, which appears to be based on a mistranslation of Targum Yonatan's words belishan bet kudsha, such that he thinks that the name of the place machanayim has connection to the Bet HaMikdash, while in truth belishan bet kudsha means "in Hebrew," as is used elsewhere in Targum where Binyamin is given a Hebrew name.

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