Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Are the Samaritans right in how to spell veHanosei?

Summary: In parashat Metzora, a Samaritan Torah variant recommends itself, for going against the grain of the typical Samaritan emendation. A gemara darshens like the Samaritan Torah, but against the Masoretic text, and this befuddles Rashi, who is unaware of the Samaritan variant. Or Torah and Minchas Shai step up to the plate and offer explanations of the gemara, forced to varying degree. Still, the most likely answer is that Chazal, here, were darshening the Samaritan text.

Post: In parashat Metzora, in Vayikra 15:10:

י  וְכָל-הַנֹּגֵעַ, בְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר יִהְיֶה תַחְתָּיו--יִטְמָא, עַד-הָעָרֶב; וְהַנּוֹשֵׂא אוֹתָם--יְכַבֵּס בְּגָדָיו וְרָחַץ בַּמַּיִם, וְטָמֵא עַד-הָעָרֶב.10 And whosoever toucheth any thing that was under him shall be unclean until the even; and he that beareth those things shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.

Note the word וְהַנּוֹשֵׂא , and how, unlike הַנֹּגֵעַ, it is spelled malei. But the Samaritan Torah has a variant text of that word:

The text on the left is the Samaritan text. And they spell the word without the vav -- thus, most likely, a cholam chaser. Now, the Samaritan Torah regularly makes the reading easier, by harmonizing texts from different places in Chumash, or adding matres lectiones. To make a word chaser, where the text originally is malei, is quite out of character. But two words are chaser rather than malei here. First, והנשא, and second, אתם. Thus, while I would usually summarily dismiss a reading from the Samaritan Torah because of its simplifying tendency, here I would not reject it out of hand. Of course, that does not mean that it is correct. It is, however something to consider.

More than that, there is a Yerushalmi somewhere that lays down the rule that where you have textual variants, the original is the one which is chaser. And the rule of lectio difficilior also promotes this idea, somewhat. It seems (only slightly) a bit more likely that someone would add imot hakeria than remove them. But again, this is nothing solid.

More than that, והנשא spelled chaser occurs two other times in Tanach -- namely, in Vayikra 11:28 and 11:40. Spelled malei, this is the only time it occurs in Tanach. (Perhaps we can then argue that it is the Samaritan Torah's harmonizing tendency at play, creating a consistent spelling. 

However, it seems quite possible that Chazal had this text as well. It seems that on Niddah 32b or 33a, there was the text והנשא כתיב. (See here.) Rashi objects to it, writing (on 33a):
ומאי ניהו נישא - בגד הנישא על הזב מאי טעמא והנושא והנישא כתיב לא ידענא מאי היא ונראה בעיני שהוא פי' משובש:

(Note how this version of Rashi has it with a yud, והנישא כתיב. Others cite this Rashi in other ways, in which it is chaser. See below.)

And Tosafot (32b) write: והיה כתוב בספרים ומאי ניהו נושא מאי טעמא והנשא כתיב ולא גריס רש"י דהא... See inside for the full Tosafot, and how they resolve this. And on daf 33, they write:

והנשא כתיב. חסר וי"ו. תימה דבמסורת הוא מלא מיהו מצינו שהמסורת הוא חולק על הש"ס במסכת שבת (דף נה:) גבי בני עלי מעבירם כתיב ובמקראות שלנו כתיב מעבירים מלא:

But one could still establish this as the correct gemara text and somehow base the derasha on another pasuk.

Or Torah grapples with this. He writes:
"והנושא -- in Masechet Niddah, daf 33, they said והנשא is written. And Rashi writes, " והנשא כתיב -- I do not know what this is, and it appears in my eyes that it is a messed up explanation." End quote (of Rashi). And Tosafot write: "והנשא כתיב as chaser vav, and this is astonishing, for in the Masoret it is malei, etc."

And according to my {=Or Torah's} opinion, it is a good diyuk, and it is no difficulty. For indeed, the gemara as well maintains that it is written malei vav, and this that they learn from it that the בגד הנישא על הזב is impure it not from the fact that it is written chaser vav, but because yesh em lamasoret, {J: that we darshen from the consonantal text}, and we are able to read it as vehanusa, with a shuruk in the vav and a kamatz under the sin, from the kaved pattern which mentions not its actor.." And he continues to explain how this is then equivalent to והנישא. "... And all works out, together with how in all the safarim the word והנושא is spelled malei vav. And so writes the Rama za"l, and the Meiri, and sefer Shemen Sasson, and so is primary."

And similarly, Minchas Shai:
Minchas Shai cites the Mishna, then the gemara, then Rashi who things it is a perush meshubash.

Then, he cites Rabbenu Shimshon in the first perek of Kelim, third Mishna, that we darshen הנושא like הנישא. And so writes Mizrachi.

And then he cites Tosafot that והנשא is written as chaser vav, and this is difficult because it is against the masoreh. And see what he {=Minchas Shai} writes on the pasuk about the שתי המזוזת, that in all our sefarim it is written malei vav. {Josh: I discuss that Minchas Shai in this parshablog post -- I also note there that the Samaritan Torah is precisely like the derasha of Chazal there as well.} And so testifies the Meiri and Shemen Sasson, and the prince of them, the Rama za"l, when he writes, "נשא עון ופשע is chaser vav and malei aleph, and all language in the Torah is like it except for one which is written malei vav, and its mnemonic is והנושא אותם יכבס בגדיו ורחץ while all others are chaser."

And like the words of Tosafot writes the Semag in hilchot Tumat Zavim veYoledet, as follows, "... from how it is written והנשא chaser vav... and the Masoret {J: I think that it is malei} go on what is before it {namely, the two in Shemini, in perek 11} and the Mikra {J: I think he means the one cited here in the gemara} goes on the one after it {? }, for by נישא it is not appropriate to have אותם. And this is in disagreement with our sefarim, for in all instances it is written ונושא as malei vav. And so is it in disagreement in Shabbat, regarding the sons of Eli, for it states that it is written מעבירם, while all of our own sefarim have מעבירים with a yud, and so too in the Masoret." End quote of the Semag.

Also, in a manuscript Masoret, it is nimsar regarding this ג' ב' חסר וחד מלא {that there are three instances of והנושא, two are chaser vav and one is malei}. And the two chaserim are in parashat Shemini {in perek 11}. -- וְהַנֹּשֵׂא אֶת-נִבְלָתָם and  וְהַנֹּשֵׂא אֶת-נִבְלָתָהּ. And the author of Or Torah labors to establish the language of the gemara so that it is not against the Masorah and the sefarim, see inside. And see what I {=Minchas Shai} will write with the help of Heaven on parashat Naso on כלות משה. 

This ends my {=Josh's} summary/translation of Minchas Shai. 

It appears that Chasam Sofer is also of the opinion that this is a legitimate machlokes in malei vs. chaser. Thus, to cite Daat Emet:
גם החתם סופר, בקובץ תשובות סימן נה, הסביר מדוע אין מברכים היום על כתיבת ספר תורה: "דלא בקיאינן בפסוקים וחסרות ויתרות כמה פלוגתות במסורות, ובמסכת נידה לג ע"א והנשא כתיב חסר וי"ו (ועיין תוס' שם ד"ה והנשא כתיב), וכו' ובס"ת שלנו כתיב מלא על פי המסורה, ועל פי הש"ס פסול וכיוצא בזה טובא"ש

What I am adding here is that the Samaritan text is like the variant found in the gemara, which is something we have already found on a number of occasions. This is something Minchas Shai and Or Torah are unaware of, but it is something which makes Or Torah's attempted harmonization of the gemara and the masorah much less likely.

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