Monday, November 09, 2009

Should there be a pasek between Nesi Elohim and Ata?

An interesting thing in Minchas Shai on parashas Chayei Sarah.

The pasuk in our Mikraos Gedolos has a pasek between the word Elohim and Ata. Thus,

שְׁמָעֵנוּ | אֲדֹנִי נְשִׂיא אֱלֹהִים | אַתָּה בְּתוֹכֵנוּ

where the first vertical bar, after shema`einu, appears to be part of the munach legarmeih. The second vertical bar, after Nesi Elohim, would be a pasek.

Yet the Leningrad Codex does not have this pasek. Minchas Shai writes that Lunzano writes that there is no such paseik in this pasuk. {Update: See here in Or Torah, where he writes אלהים בלא פסק } And so too, he found in many seforim lacking, except in one rather old manuscript. Yet he thinks it is a good paseik, functioning to divide the Divine name from a following word, where otherwise there is only a meshares {Stealth edit in this sentence}. Similar to in parshat Vaetchanan, on the pasuk {Devarim 4:32}:

לב כִּי שְׁאַל-נָא לְיָמִים רִאשֹׁנִים אֲשֶׁר-הָיוּ לְפָנֶיךָ, לְמִן-הַיּוֹם אֲשֶׁר בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אָדָם עַל-הָאָרֶץ, וּלְמִקְצֵה הַשָּׁמַיִם, וְעַד-קְצֵה הַשָּׁמָיִם: הֲנִהְיָה, כַּדָּבָר הַגָּדוֹל הַזֶּה, אוֹ, הֲנִשְׁמַע כָּמֹהוּ.32 For ask now of the days past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and from the one end of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it?

where there is a pasek between Elohim and Adam.

He also refers to Yalkut Shimoni on Mishpatim which lists this Elohim as kodesh, which might be a remez in favor of it,
נשיא אלקים אתה קדש.
but notes that in our version of masechet Soferim we lack this. It makes sense. If kodesh, there would be at least some cause for a paseik. But if it is chol, and so means "mighty prince" rather than "prince of God", then there would be little cause for a paseik pause.

My thoughts on this are as follows. I would lean rather heavily in favor of the absence of the paseik. Even with (according to Yalkut) Elohim as kodesh, there need not necessarily be a paseik. And the best masoretic manuscript we have, the Leningrad Codex, lacks it. As do most of the manuscripts Minchas Shai saw, with the exception of one.

I can understand the justification for a pasek. After all, we do not want to say that Avraham is God. However, I can also understand why there would not be a paseik, since Avraham is not being labelled a God, but rather a prince of God. Then, given both as options, this would truly seem to be an appropriate place to apply the principle of lectio difficilior, that the (seemingly) more difficult text is the original. And I can readily see a change, because of frumkeit, in adding the paseik, which doesn't really hurt anything, while I can see little reason for removing a paseik, in the direction of less frumkeit and in the direction of the removal of an existing masoretic note. Therefore, my strong guess is that the paseik was not original.

Furthermore, in terms of the particular example given by Minchas Shai: the pasuk in VaEtchanan is an example of almost accidental juxtaposition. Elokim created Adam, and so the noun is juxtaposed to the verb. True, they are related, but the pasek stops it from being Elokim Adam. In this case, however, the pasek would work against the direct meaning of the pasuk. The pasek betweek "Elohim | Ata" would work to prevent the message that "you are Elohim." But this is indeed what Elohim Ata means in the pasuk. Of course not that Avraham is Elohim. But the phrase is Nesi Elohim, and Avraham indeed is a Nesi Elohim, and this is what the Bnei Chais are trying to tell him.

Now, it is possible that such pasek divisions would occur even in such instances. But if so, the example offered is inadequate. Give me a pasuk like {Tehillim 82:6}:

ו אֲנִי-אָמַרְתִּי, אֱלֹהִים אַתֶּם; וּבְנֵי עֶלְיוֹן כֻּלְּכֶם.6 I said: Ye are godlike beings, and all of you sons of the Most High.

There, the pasuk itself says that "you are Elohim" and "all of you are (sons of) the Most High". And so, this is the very message of the pasuk, rather than an accidental juxtaposition. And neither of these have paseik. I would like to have seen examples by Minchas Shai of this sort. Not being an expert on masorah and trup, I don't know that there are many, or any examples of this, which would let us prove this one way or another. (And reader participation would be much appreciated. Do you know of any examples?)

{Update: Thank you, commenter "Minchas Shy" who corrected my understanding of the Minchas Shai (who I will spell differently to avoid confusion). I am likely incorrect in my reading of Minchas Shai, and therefore I have placed the strikethrough in the preceding paragraphs and am rewriting it here.

Minchas Shai is not concerned with improper accidental juxtaposition, but rather the general rule that where otherwise there would only be a meshareis rather than a melech, and a given Elohim is kodesh, one should divide it.) (A type of Paseq emphaticum?)

I had assumed that this Pasek was what Wickes labels a Pasek Euphemisticum, whose object is to separate the Divine Name from a word, where it seems unseemly to associate with it."Indeed, though I didn't know it at the time, Wickes considers Minchas Shai's example of Asher Bara Elohim | Adam to be an example of this small class of paseiks.

Rather, as the commenter Minchas Shai writes, wherever we have the Divine Name with a mesharet, for reasons of sanctity we divide it. I don't know that this is really so in reality. Wickes gives many exceptions to it. To name but one of many, in parshas Noach, in Bereishis 8:1, why is there no paseik after the second Elohim? And we don't find it after many YKVKs, for example Bereishis 11:8. So while it might be influenced by some rule, such that we might want and expect it to be kodesh, it is not always so in reality.

If this is Minchas Shai's theory, then my objection (now struck through) is irrelevant. His example is spot on, as a case of marking an Elokim which is kodesh (if it indeed is) where it is a meshareis. However, I still maintain that lectio difficilior applies. This is a general rule for paseiks, and there is reason why someone might "correct" it. But if its use is indeed occasionally inconsistent, or it is possible that in reality is was chol, though later regarded as kodesh, then we can understand why one might correct it in the direction of paseik. But surely one would not just strip one out, against all these seemingly good reasons.

But anyway, for all these reasons, I favor a lack of paseik in this pasuk.


Minchas Shy said...

Once again I find myself in the position of defending the Holy Minchas Shai. To be clear, he is of the opinion that the placement of the paseik (p'sik?) is correct, so I'm not really sure why you think you have a "say" in this ancient dispute, as if your opinion on the Mesorah carries any weight.
You are misinterpreting the reason for the p'sik, and that is leading you to simply bark up the wrong tree. Nowhere does the Minchas Shai say that the p'sik is due to the need to divide the divine name from something it should "not be associated with". That is a faulty understanding of the Mesorah. The fact is that throughout the Torah, the word "Elohim", if it is kodesh, must always have a Ta'am Melech, never a Ta'am Meshares. This is out of respect for the divine name, to have a slight pause, not for any reasons of juxtaposition. If the word "elohim" needs to have a Ta'am Meshares for whatever reason, we put a p'sik after the word "Elohim", forcing a pause and having the same effect as if it were a Ta'am Melech. Thus: נַפְתּוּלֵי אֱלֹהִים | נִפְתַּלְתִּי
for example. The word Elohim, which has a Ta'am Meshares (Darga) needs a p'sik. This is true for every single instance of the word "elohim" in the Torah, provided it is kodesh.
In our case, the Minchas Shai maintains that this instance of "elohim" is kodesh, which it is hard to argue with ("Prince of God" is way more plausible than "Mighty Prince" - we do not find "elohim" used as an adjective). The example the Minchas Shai then gives from the pasuk in VoEschanan, again, is a case where the word "elohim" has a Ta'am Meshares (Mahpach) and therefore must have a p'sik. Nothing to do with juxtoposition or textual confusion. Looking at it that way, the Minchas Shai is more than justified in deciding that the p'sik is necessary here.

joshwaxman said...

thanks for the clarification of the reason. i stand corrected.

even though i may often be wrong, it is my philosophy that as a matter of limmud Torah, i *will* try to have a say. i am not laining on the basis of this; i am not paskening on the basis of it. but as limmud hatorah, trying to come to a conclusion, and grappling with the texts and ideas, are precisely what we should be doing. this is not the same as "carries any weight," if you prefer.

"we do not find "elohim" used as an adjective"
see for example the disputes over whether ruach elohim means mighty wind or the Spirit of Hashem. in this instance, the JPS translation of this pasuk is indeed "mighty prince." indeed, we find elohim used as an adjective often.

also, rules are one thing, and texts are another. texts might be formed by the application of the rules, but if ALL the masoretic texts, including the standard Codexes have it without paseik, then who says we should decide in favor of a minority text applying the rule over others that do not.

thanks for the background info though, in terms of meshareis. you are correct. i will rethink this.

kol tuv,

joshwaxman said...

i rewrote that section of the post with your correction in mind. please let me know what you think.

thanks again,

Lion of Zion said...

the text in minhat shai's holograph ms. (as published by betzer) is vey different than the one you post (e.g., divided into 2 separate dibbur mathil, the second of which might be a later interpolation; no reference to lonzano or the vaethanan pasuk; etc.), although i'm too confused right now to see how how/if it changes what you conclude.

anyway, the mss. used by rav breuer for his edition all lack it. he does list minhat shai as having it, but with a question mark (but unfortunately with no explanation).
perlman, masorah, v. 3, p. 4 notes that this pasuk does not appear in the lists of pasek in ginsburg (masorah?), v. 5, p. 271 and v. 2, p. 200 (with many examples of elokim). also v. 5, p. 54 says not in most taj.

Lion of Zion said...

in his earlier פיסוק טעמים במקרא p. 78, r. breuer has it *with* the pasek. i can't check his later טעמי המקרא (left it in the car), but i'll bet it's without it.

also, i think there is a pause after elokim here regardless of whether or not there is a actually pasek in the text, as the מהפך here instead of of a מפסיק is one of the תמורות (and see the parsing in perlman, ספר בראשית מפוסק)

joshwaxman said...

thanks. fascinating. and i see what you mean about the mahpach. i wonder if the fact that there would be a pause anyway is another reason the pasek would not have occurred, even though this would have been non-obvious. if so, this would be another reason for favoring lack of pasek, under lectio difficilior.

in terms of pasek and its cause, what do you think? is it actually the case that every Elokim has a pause or a pasek? since after all, Wickes gives counterexamples, as well as reasons such as I gave for particular examples, of Pasek Euphemisticum...

kol tuv,

shylock said...

Obvious counter examples to Minchas Shai's rule:
Gen. 1:25 (first occurrence)
Gen. 8:1 (second occurrence)
Gen. 35:9

shylock said...

Examples of with mahpach and nonetheless pasek are:
Gen. 1:5
Gen. 1:10 (first occurrence)
Gen. 1:27 (first occurrence)
Gen. 21:17 (second occurrence)
Gen. 46:2
and of course Minchas Shai's example:
Deut. 4:32

joshwaxman said...

" to Minchas Shai's rule"
of course, to be fair, this is Minchas Shy's rule, and not necessarily Minchas Shai's. it is possible i was right the first time i wrote it, that Minchas Shai is considering the Paseik Euphemisticum.

"Examples of with mahpach and nonetheless pasek are"
i haven't examined them inside yet, but again as a defense (this time of Lion of Zion), how many of those are "converted" from an original disjunctive accent?


Stuart said...

My understanding is that the possible meanings of the phrase are 1. prince of God - which would be kodesh, and 2. prince of a god - which would be chol. The reason for opinion that the chol meaning is correct is that that is more likely what the bnei cheit, not being monotheists, would have said.

joshwaxman said...

excellent point. i'm going to adopt it, if you don't mind, and then consider the three possibilities as:

1- prince of God.
2- prince of the idolatrous pantheon.
3. mighty prince (like naftulei elohim niftalti).


shylock said...

it seems that the following rule holds:
if the word "Elokim" is followed by a pasek, then it is kodesh. (necessary but not sufficient condition)

One exception(?):
Numbers 22:20
Here the word is considered safek kodesh by the Masora.

peretz said...

It's davka when a mersharet comes instead of a mafsik that a paseik is most likely to occur, as otherwise it is not mafsik at all. Breuer's Taamei Hamikra brings many examples of this.


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