Thursday, January 28, 2010

The zakef on mikkedash

Summary: Rashi interprets the the zakef on the word מקדש in the Shirat Hayam, and is absolutely correct. Plus, considering what some supercommentators say.

Post: Part of the Shirah is:

17. You shall bring them and plant them on the mount of Your heritage, directed toward Your habitation, which You made, O Lord; the sanctuary, O Lord, [which] Your hands founded.

יז. תְּבִאֵמוֹ וְתִטָּעֵמוֹ בְּהַר נַחֲלָתְךָ מָכוֹן לְשִׁבְתְּךָ פָּעַלְתָּ יְ־הֹוָ־ה מִקְּדָשׁ אֲדֹנָי כּוֹנְנוּ יָדֶיךָ:

And Rashi says upon this:

the sanctuary: Heb. מִקְּדָשׁ. The cantillation sign over it is a “zakef gadol,” to separate it from the word ה following it. [The verse thus means:] the sanctuary which Your hands founded, O Lord. 

מקדש: הטעם עליו זקף גדול להפרידו מתיבת השם שלאחריו המקדש אשר כוננו ידיך ה'. 

And he is absolutely right that this is what the trup conveys. That trup is:

Analyzing from after the etnachta, we have:

מִקְּדָשׁ אֲדֹנָי כּוֹנְנוּ יָדֶיךָ

which is divided into
מִקְּדָשׁ  || אֲדֹנָי כּוֹנְנוּ יָדֶיךָ
at the zakef. Then, within that last phrase, the tipcha divides it into:
אֲדֹנָי || כּוֹנְנוּ יָדֶיךָ

I discussed this before, in 2007, and mentioned how the trup makes a lot of sense, because of the principles of Biblical parallelism, and how component by component it matces  מָכוֹן לְשִׁבְתְּךָ פָּעַלְתָּ יְ־הֹוָ־ה. See there.

Some of Rashi's supercommentators discuss this, though I don't think I readily agree with all of their conclusions.

Rav Natan ben Shimshon Shapira Asheknazi focuses on the aspect of just what is bothering Rashi.

"The cantillation upon it is zakef gadol -- for it is difficult to Rashi, since the Mikdash is a separate entity, in and of itself, why should it state Mikdash Hashem? And he answers that such is effectively written: 'the Mikdash Your Hands have established, O God', just as is written above it 'An abode for Your dwelling you have made, Hashem.'"

I am not really a big fan of the "what is bothering Rashi" approach, that something is always 'difficult' to Rashi, that Rashi is trying to solve. I am more more in favor of a "what is motivating Rashi" -- what is he trying to clarify? What theme is he trying to develop by citing a particular midrash? What does he see in the text to prefer one explanation over another.

Yes, a Mikdash is an entity unto itself. But that does not mean that it cannot be used in construct form, as Mikdash-Hashem. Indeed, we have precisely that construction in Bemidbar 19:20:

במדבר פרק יט
  • פסוק כ: וְאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר-יִטְמָא וְלֹא יִתְחַטָּא, וְנִכְרְתָה הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַהִוא מִתּוֹךְ הַקָּהָל:  כִּי אֶת-מִקְדַּשׁ יְהוָה טִמֵּא, מֵי נִדָּה לֹא-זֹרַק עָלָיו--טָמֵא הוּא. 

"He has rendered ritually impure the Temple of Hashem". Such can therefore exist. There is, of course, a difference between the two. In Bemidbar 19:20, since it is the construct form, there is a patach under the daled in mikdash. In contrast, there is a kametz under the daled in mikkedash, in our pasuk in parashat Beshalach, which more or less tells us it is not the construct form. And so it is not just the zakef trup, but the nikkud at well which serves to inform that it is not the construct. Perhaps we can say that this is what he meant, that it is a word to itself...

I don't think that this was really bothering Rashi, such that it was "difficult" for him. Though certainly the kametz could have been another textual feature motivating Rashi to regard "Hashem" as the actor. But what likely motivates Rashi is the Biblical parallelism. That is:

מָכוֹן לְשִׁבְתְּךָ פָּעַלְתָּ יְ־הֹוָ־ה
 מִקְּדָשׁ אֲדֹנָי כּוֹנְנוּ יָדֶיךָ

such that
מָכוֹן לְשִׁבְתְּךָ = מִקְּדָשׁ
פָּעַלְתָּ = כּוֹנְנוּ יָדֶיךָ
יְ־הֹוָ־ה = אֲדֹנָי

Just as Hashem is the actor in the first phrase, He is the actor in the second. And if this were not enough, Rashi pays heed to the trup, and likely considers it dispositive. (Though this is debatable.) If so, what motivates him is that he saw the trup, knew what the trup means, and therefore cited the trup to resolve what would otherwise be somewhat ambiguous. Because meaning of the pasuk is a peshat concern, and the trup can help resolve the meaning of the verse. There need not be any "difficulty", although I will state that the alternate reading does not work nearly so well with the regular behaviors of Biblical parallelism.

Gur Aryeh, that is, the Maharal of Prague, cites Rabbi Avraham of Prague, with a different problem that was bothering Rashi.

"The cantillation upon it is zakef, etc. -- for if not so, it would imply, forfend, that the "Mikdash of Adonai Your hands established", and this would imply that there were Two Powers ("Adonai" and another Divine entity, perhaps "YKVK"), from the fact that it did not state "Your Mikdash Your Hands have established", since after all Yadecha addresses the second person (the one spoken to, namely the Divinity), and one would come, forfend, to blaspheme, as if there were two Divinities -- there is the Temple of Adonai, who is one God; Your hands have established, such that there are here two Gods. But now that Mikdash is is word all by itself, and the interpretation of the phrase is 'the Mikdash which Your hands have established, O Hashem'. So have I heard from the Gaon, Rabbi Avraham of Prague. And it is correct."

I don't know that this is what is motivating Rashi, either. Yes, there would be this awkwardness, in which Hashem is referred to in third person, in a second-person address to Himself. And the grammatical awkwardness might just be what influenced the author of the trup, perhaps alongside the aforementioned Biblical parallelism. I just am entirely unconvinced that this awkwardness must lead to a heretical resolution of there being Two Reshuyos, or even that such a conclusion is anywhere near plausible. I don't think Rashi is particularly trying to avoid a heretical parse, or a parse which might be construed as heretical. He is trying to find peshat in the pasuk, and this parse is just awkward. If the parse is also heretical, then sure, that would be another giveaway that that parse is not the correct one, so as far as that goes, I can agree with R' Avraham of Prague.

Gur Aryeh then continues. He admits that R' Avraham of Prague's explanation is correct. But he supplements it with a deep kabbalistic explanation of the zakef dividing "Mikdash" from "Adnus". See inside, by following the link above. And see Levush HaOrah's rejection and disproof of this explanation.

As for me, I see no reason to resort to deep kabbalistic explanations of this matter. Trup is mechanical, based on the syntax and meaning of the verse. If on a peshat level, it means just what Rashi says it does -- and indeed, Rashi is correct -- then, Mikdash is separate from Adonai. And if so, they are not in construct form. And there are more than three words in the clause, and so Mikkedash must be separated off first, since the clause begins with a Noun. Then, Adonai, as the next independent Noun, must be separated off second. Then, there are no clauses with three words or more left, and so the continuous dichotomy halts. And the first division must be via zakef, because of the distance from the end of the pasuk. And the second division must be via tipcha, for a similar reason.

If it is mechanical, and truly simply describes the one true peshat in the pasuk calls out to us "Dirshuni", "darshen me"! And if so, reading deep kabbalistic pnimiyus meaning into the trup on the pasuk may well be unjustified. Most derash, at least, is based on a textual irregularity. And there is absolutely no irregularity here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a great resource!


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