Friday, December 04, 2009

Posts so far for parshat Vayishlach

  1. Vayishlach sources -- links to over 100 meforshim on the parasha and haftarah, as well as links to an online Mikraos Gedolos.

  2. Why did Yaakov weep, pt i -- in this, I analyze Rashi's two answers for Yaakov's weeping, as contrasted with that of Ibn Ezra. Rashi suggests that it was because he saw that Rachel wouldn't be buried with him, and secondly that he came without money, in contrast to Eliezer who came laden with wealth. Maharshal harmonizes the two reasons, so that Rashi can intend to say both simultaneously, but I explain why I think this harmonization is extremely farfetched. Finally, I give my own suggestion as to Rashi's motivations in bringing down these two midrashim from Bereishit Rabba.

  3. Angels or messengers? There is a famous Rashi which starts of Vayishlach that the malachim Yaakov sent were malachim mamash, actual angels. This likely relates to the camp of malachei elokim from the previous parsha. But as Ibn Caspi points out, the parsha gap, or else the petucha gap makes it clear that there is a distinction. Though that is just an indicator, rather than the real reason. Also, how Ralbag and Sefer Hayashar treat the malachim of this parasha and last.

  4. Why was Yaakov distressed? Why did he fear? Yaakov fears and is distressed. Why the duplication? Rashi seems spot on, that the fear is of being killed and the distress is of killing others. But watch out for supercommentators who read their own ideas into him! Would Yaakov not be distressed at killing others, simply because it was halachically justified homicide?

  5. Moral lessons from parshas Vayishlach -- Once again, focusing on the moral lessons one can derive from the parsha, selected from Ralbag's commentary. Because too much attention to dikduk, peshat and derash can leave us without inspiration. A very small selection from his lessons learned from Yaakov's confrontation with Esav, and then a "fun" one from the tale of Dinah.

  6. Machaneh as a feminine and masculine form -- In Vayishlach, Rashi notes that 'camp' is used in both the masculine and feminine genders. What in the pasuk prompts this? And would Rashi necessarily agree with how Gur Aryeh develops this?

  7. In what manner(s) did Shechem rape Dinah? Another study of methodology of peshat, examining how different meforshim treat the duplication in different terminology as Shechem's actions vis a vis Dinah. I last reviewed this idea of peshat methodology in terms of the unnecessary poetic duplication of Rivkah being a virgin, whom no man had known.

  8. How old was Dinah when she was abducted by Shechem? A simple calculation based on when children had to be born within the given time frame would make her about 7 years old. Yet there are difficulties with that. How Rav Shimon Shkop and Ibn Ezra deal with that.

  9. Esav and Yaakov meet, and he kisses him. But there are dots over the word. Rashi cites a midrash, and Ibn Ezra disagrees, in a pretty dismissive manner, stating that the midrash is good for just-weaned children! What are we to make of this? Does Ibn Ezra not say in his introduction that none of Chazal's words fall to the ground? See also my earlier post about the dots over vayishakeihu.
  1. From The Age of Trup, how Ramban ignores the pasuk ending and claims that Timna was one of Elifaz's sons, rather than his concubine.

  2. Instances of Malachim, according to Ralbag. He understands the malachim at the end of Vayeitzei to be either angels or prophets, and the malachim at the beginning of Vayishlach to be simply human messengers from Yaakov.

  3. Vayishlach sources -- links to online parsha resources for Vayishlach. Thus, to a Mikraos Gedolos by aliyah and perek, and to an online English Rashi, to Ralbag, and to Shadal. For now.

  4. What was the name of the city of Shechem? Was the city named Shechem, or was it named Shalem? And Shadal's take. Then, in an update, why Shadal might have adopted that approach, as a response to Geiger, and how the Samaritan Torah differs, quite likely to reinforce their own religious message and elevate the prominence of Shechem.

  5. Did Dinah marry Shimon, Iyov, or both? The conflation, or else harmonization, of two midrashim, in a way that might just do injustice to their respective themes.

  6. Two noteworthy comments about the nature of peshat and derash, one from Ibn Ezra on Vayishlach.
  1. The Etymology of Maavar Yabbok -- related to their wresting/getting dusty, as a non-explicit etymology? Or does the etymology work in the other direction? Or was this specific unrelated word chosen because of the place name?

  2. Did Esav Kiss Yaakov? If he did, did he really mean it? Should the word be there?

  3. Esav separates from Yaakov, as Lot did from Avraham. With parallels on a peshat and derash level.

  4. Did Yaakov struggle with an angel? Or with God Himself? And the possibility of the two naming incidents of Yisrael being the same incident.

  5. Bet El and Yeravam -- and that the Torah would designate this as a holy place with a mizbeach shows the early authorship of Torah, according to Shadal.
  1. Im Lavan Garti ... veTaryag Mitzvot Shamarti? But he married two sisters!? So you will say he was outside Eretz Yisrael? Yet his claim is that he kept Tatyag Mitzvot when with Lavan! I claim the midrash actually means a Torah-true attitude and midot, represented by the 613 of garti, in spite of the evil Lavan's influence. And other explanations.

  2. Why No Adult Male Camels? After all, this represents a break in the pattern of the gifts to Esav. I suggest that the purpose of the camels was to provide camel milk, and having these young there boosts lactation. Having male camels there would end the lactations.
  1. Triple Etiologies of Place Names -- of Peniel and Machanayim. Interesting stuff.

  2. The taam elyon and taam tachton on the incident of Reuven, and how the trup alternatives follow naturally from a decision to omit the Targum.

  3. Twelve Boys and Only One Girl? Cross-listed to Vayeitzei. Was Dinah the only girl? Or perhaps not.

  4. Rachel's Triplets -- Further analysis on the textual basis of the midrash that Rachel gave birth to triplets at the time of Binyamin's birth, based in part on interpreting each occurence ofבְּלִדְתָּהּ as the birth of a daughter. Rather than other suggestions, such as Matnot Kehuna that it is a derasha on the word gam.
          1. Come and Hear, or Come, Then Hear? Did Dinah's brothers come because they heard the news, or did they hear the news because they came? Midrash, parsing, and trup.

          2. How to Address a Business Letter, and Yaakov's message to Esav. There is a formal form of address, discovered in extra-Biblical sources as well as elsewhere in Tanach. And the parsing which seems proposed by trup, and the traditional explanation, seems against this parse. Yet this parse was apparently known to Yehuda Nesia, and in fact does work out according to trup (looking at Wickes' rules, and against Speiser's suggestion that it does not).

          3. Dinah's Arms being exposed, caused her to be seized?

          4. Binyamin's Name -- Binyamin is named twice, once by his mother and once by his father. I suggest that the names are the same, but one is in Hebrew and the other in Aramaic. Appropriate since Lavan is haArami, the Aramean, and Rachel is his daughter. And note that the same thing happens in parshat Vayeitzei on the name Gal-ed.

          5. A Hebrew cognate in Amharic for Vayishlach -- laka, meaning "send".
          1. וְהָיִינוּ לְעַם אֶחָד and cross-cultural circumcision -- Adopting circumcision in order to become one people, in modern times. They better watch out!

          2. In "Dual Etymologies for Names" -- I discuss how various place names seem to have more than one reason for their naming. Specifically, מחנים (in the dual form), named at the end of Vayeitzei, is so named because Yaakov sees a single encampment of angels. But then we see in Vayishlach, shortly afterwards and in the same location, that he splits his family into two camps. I discuss a midrash on the matter in Tg Yerushalmi, and the Scriptural basis for the midrash. Tg Yonatan, Rashi, and Ramban seem to take on the issue of why there is a dual in מחנים.

            Another dual place name in Vayishlach is Penuel, which Yaakov first names for having seen God face to face and living to tell the tale, yet later he uses the term to say that seeing Esav's face is like seeing that of God.

            Also in Vayishlach is Bet El, which Yaakov seems to name multiple times, but I claim the
            psukim are speaking in the pluperfect, and he only names the place one time.

          3. In "Dual Etymologies for People's Names" -- I treat dual etymologies for people rather than places as I did in the first post. Turning to Vayeitzei, I find dual etymologies for Yosef and Yissacher, and give possible explanations for this.

          4. In "Shnayim Mikra VeEchad Targum?" -- I discuss two psukim that have only a single targum, and how the trup is constructed so as to omit the translation in shul. It is a pasuk about Reuven and Bilhah.

          5. In "Commentators Who Live In Glass Houses?" -- Ibn Ezra takes a contemporary, Yitzchaki, to task for kefira in the dating of the psukim about the kings of Edom. I show how Ibn Ezra's approach differs from Yitzchaki.


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