Friday, December 25, 2009

posts so far for parshat Vayigash


  1. The Gra's famous peshat on Vayigash -- The Vilna Gaon has a famous devar Torah interpreting the opening trup on Vayigash. Considering the idea of it, and whether it is compelling.

  2. Vayigash sources -- more than 100 meforshim on the parsha and haftorah, clustered into categories such as masorah and supercommentators of Rashi. Plus links to an online Mikraos Gedolos, by perek and aliyah.

  3. How many are the days of your life, as question or exclamation? There is a dispute whether kama is a question or exclamation. Ibn Caspi has a nice exchange with an elderly man about this, and also tries to claim that this is what the Anshei Knesset HaGedolah meant when they placed a gaaya {=zakef gadol} on the word. I investigate.

  4. Is the trup on veEt Achecha dispositiveIbn Caspi and Chizkuni each read a pasuk in Vayish differently, Ibn Caspi with the division indicated by trup and Chizkuni against. Except that Chizkuni explains why the trup isn't really against him.

  5. Ralbag on Yocheved's birth -- All about Ralbag asserting that on a peshat level, the 70 includes Yaakov, and that of course Yocheved wasn't actually born just as they entered, though there is a deep meaning to that midrash. This can help us understand the approach of this and other Rishonim towards midrash, "arguing" withmidrash, and whether miracles must be explicit.

  6. A patach in la`ish, according to Chizkuni -- A brief discussion of a troubling Chizkuni, about the nikkud under a certain letter. And the inclination to emend Chizkuni to make everything all right, which we should reject. This might relate to the idea of lectio difficilior, the "rule" that the more difficult word is more likely original.

  7. The deeper meaning of Yocheved's birth between the walls -- In an earlier post, I discussed Ralbag's position -- the midrash that Yocheved was the 70th, and was born between the walls, was al derech derash, but was not intended historically or literally. I would like to explore what deep meaning this midrash might contain, in terms of Yocheved as the 70th, orChushim ben Dan, or Serach bat Asher, or Yaakov himself, or Hakadosh Baruch Hu.

  8. The Torah of Rabbi Meir -- What are we to make of the midrashic reference to the variants found in the Torah of Rabbi Meir? In Vayigash, it is uven Dan Chushim. Are these commentaries in a separate book? Explanations written on the side of the sefer Torah? A variant reading? Deliberate variants to accord with midrash, or with what seems to be good peshat. It is unclear. But it is still something to consider. In the end, I side with the idea that it was a variant text to our accepted Masoretic text, and that our Masoretic text is preferable.

  1. Did Yosef actually ask about their father and brother, as Yehuda claimed? Just as it interested me last year, it interested me this year. (And I forgot I addressed it last year.) Here, with some new sources addressing it (e.g. Chizkuni), and an expansion on some of the ideas.

  2. Some great Chizkunis on Vayigash. Such as why Yosef had the brothers sent off to Goshen; a reparsing of the pasuk as to where Yaakov and the brothers went; and whether one can argue on an etnachta, and so on. Check it out, and the comment section.

  3. Anshei Chayil: Warriors or Capable Men? And a contradiction in Rashi, says me.

  4. The trup on "rav", and why Shadal correctly changes the tevir to a zakef gadol.

  5. 70 souls? But there are only 69?! It could be Yaakov; it could be Yocheved; or else it could be that it really was only 69, but the Torah keeps the nice round number.

  6. Ramses vs. Raamses -- the same place? different?

  7. Vayigash sources -- links to a Mikraos Gedolos, and many meforshim on the parsha and haftara. Very useful for preparing the sidra.

  8. From Jan 2009, with a Miketz crossover - Why in the world did Yosef compel the Egyptians to circumcise themselves? I try to figure it out based on the context and meaning of the original midrash, which Rashi has seen. To quote myself, "The idea behind it, at least as spoken out here, is that Yosef's intention was somehow to be mekarev the Egyptians to his religion."

  1. Have you a father or a brother? But where did Yosef ask this question? In 2008, I address this as well, from other sources, and some of the same, but from a slightly different perspective.

  2. The trup and nikkud on bevechi -- and how one appears at odds with the other, and Shadal's suggestion.

  3. From Vayechi: How big a gap between Vayigash and Vayechi (see pt i, ii, iii).

  1. When Was Yosef Sold? We consider the possibility that it was before Rachel's death, and attempt to harness evidence in that direction. There is some evidence the other way (the account of, and the place of Rachel's death), but this is perhaps resolvable.

  2. The Ambiguity of וְעָזַב אֶת-אָבִיו וָמֵת -- Ibn Ezra wonders why this is not one of Issi ben Yehuda's five ambiguously parsed pesukim. Vamet can either corefer with Yaakov or with Binyamin. We compare with Issi ben Yehuda's five, and show how they are ambiguities of parsing rather than coindexation. Avi Ezer, a supercommentary on Ibn Ezra, wonders (and resolves) how Ibn Ezra could be so chutzpadik to challenge Chazal in this way. And I give my answer as well.

    Finally, Rashi decides in favor of a coreference to Binyamin. We give several reasons for this, as well as several reasons for a coreference with Yaakov.

  3. Issi Ben Yehuda's Five (And Rav Chisda's One) As Disambiguated by Trup -- As a followup to the aforementioned post. Issi ben Yehuda gives five examples of ambiguous parsings of pesukim. Rav Chisda has an additional one. As we know, trup serves as syntactic markup and may well disambiguate each of these examples. In each case, what does the trup tell us? How does Rashi disambiguate in each case? Also, from a certain Rashi, it would seem that if we decide in the end that a narrative happened in a specific way, or that halacha is a certain way, we should emend the trup we read in shul to accord with that reading!
    Dec 2004

    1. Jewish Might  -- Rather than polite, humble and supplicative, some midrashim cast Yehuda's response (and that of his brothers) as a display of Jewish might. Yehuda's speech is understood in three different strains: appeasement, prayer, and threat of war, much as is Yaakov's approach to Esav. I go into a bit of detail on this.

    2. The Three Approaches -- Continuing the idea mentioned above, Chazal show how each of these three approaches are meanings of the word "vayigash" throughout Tanach.

    3. Yehuda's Threat -- of leprosy and death. And the specific textual prompts. "Speak a word in my lord's ear" implies a hidden message. Leprosy is derived from "you are as Pharaoh." The parallels drawn to Yaakov's curse and Shimon and Levi's destruction of Shechem might find purchase in אֲדֹנִי שָׁאַל, אֶת-עֲבָדָיו לֵאמֹר: הֲיֵשׁ-לָכֶם אָב, אוֹ-אָח.
      Dec 2003 - Jan 2004
      1. Pesukim That Imply That Binyamin Is Young -- Some neutral. He is called hakaton, but this might mean youngest as opposed to young. But then, the supposedly 22 year old Binyamin is called the naar, or lad. He is also called yeled zekunim katon, which I think is the strongest that he is fairly young.

      2. The trup of the first pasuk -- Contrary to the Vilna Gaon, does not mean that, even on the level of simple translation. Revii does not mean fourth but rather "lie down." And this is not coming to convey some secret message, but is mechanically produced by syntactic rules of division.

      3. Are Reuven's Children Tribbles? -- Accounting for their sudden doubling from 2 to 4, in such a short time span. I suggest the census in Egypt was taken at a later date.

      4. Treatment of הַבָּאָה מִצְרַיְמָה a -- And in order to maintain that this census was taken at a later date, in Egypt, I have to explain habbaah mitzrayma as of the generation that came down to Egypt, as opposed to those who left. I show this needs be so, compelled by the fact that Yosef did not physically move to Egypt together with his father, yet is counted there. Rather, it is the census of the generation which moved into Egypt, opposed to the census when the Israelites leave, and indeed is there to show this contrast and the fulfillment of Divine promise.

        As a side benefit, a lot of chronology can work out, since there is time for Reuven to have more sons, for Binyamin to grow up and have ten sons, etcetera.

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