Thursday, June 17, 2010

Chukat: Rashi's emendation of Onkelos on כִּי גָוַע אַהֲרֹן

Summary: Rashi might suggest an emendation of Onkelos' translation of ki gava Aharon. And if so, Shadal takes issue with his reasoning, and establishes the unemended text as correct.

Post: In parashat Chukat, Aharon dies. There is an elaborate procedure on the mountain, in which Eleazar is dressed with his father's clothing, as he assumes his father's role. Aharon dies on the mountain, and then Moshe and Eleazar descend. Next:

29. The whole congregation saw that Aaron had expired, and the entire house of Israel wept for Aaron for thirty days.כט. וַיִּרְאוּ כָּל הָעֵדָה כִּי גָוַע אַהֲרֹן וַיִּבְכּוּ אֶת אַהֲרֹן שְׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם כֹּל בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל

One version of Targum Onkelos (from mechon-mamre) has it:

כ,כט וַיִּרְאוּ, כָּל-הָעֵדָה, כִּי גָוַע, אַהֲרֹן; וַיִּבְכּוּ אֶת-אַהֲרֹן שְׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם, כֹּל בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל.  {ס}וַחֲזוֹ, כָּל כְּנִשְׁתָּא, אֲרֵי מִית, אַהֲרוֹן; וּבְכוֹ יָת אַהֲרוֹן תְּלָתִין יוֹמִין, כֹּל בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל.  {ס}

But Rashi seems to have had וַחֲזוֹ, כָּל כְּנִשְׁתָּא דהא מִית, אַהֲרוֹן, rather than אֲרֵי. He comments:

that [Aaron] had expired: Heb. כִּי גָוַע אַהִרֹן. I say that the one who renders דְּהָא מִית, because [Aaron] had died, is in error, unless he also renders, וַיִּרְאוּ as וְאִתְחֲזִיאוּ,“they [the congregation] were seen” [in the sense of exposed], for our Rabbis’ statement that the word Heb. כִּי is used here in the sense of ‘because’ applies only according to the Midrash [which states] that the clouds of glory departed, and as R. Abahu said,“Do not read וַיִּרְאוּ, they saw, but וַיֵּרָאוּ, they were seen [exposed].” According to this explanation, ‘because’ is appropriate, since it gives the reason for what precedes it: Why were they exposed? Because Aaron had died [and the clouds had departed]. But, according to the Targum’s rendering, וַחֲזו ֹכָּלכְּנִשְׁתָּא, and the whole congregation saw, [the rendering of the word כִּי as] ‘because’ is inapplicable, only it has the meaning of אֲשֶׁר, ‘that’ which is a usage of the word אִי, for we find that אִם [its Hebrew equivalent] can mean ‘that,’ as in,“so that (וְאִם) why should I not be short of breath?” (Job 21:4). And there are many other instances [of the word אִם] in this sense, [as in]“that (אִם) his days are limited” (ibid. 14:5).כי גוע: אומר אני שהמתרגם דהא מית טועה הוא, אלא אם כן מתרגם ויראו ואתחזיאו, שלא אמרו רבותינו ז"ל כי זה משמש בלשון דהא אלא על מדרש שנסתלקו ענני כבוד, וכדאמר ר' אבהו (ראש השנה ג א), דא"ר אבהו אל תקרי ויראו אלא וייראו ועל לשון זה נופל לשון דהא, לפי שהוא נתינת טעם למה שלמעלה הימנו. למה וייראו, לפי שהרי מת אהרן. אבל על תרגום וחזו כל כנישתא, אין לשון דהא נופל אלא לשון אשר, שהוא מגזרת שמוש אי, שמצינו אם משמש בלשון אשר, כמו (איוב כא ד) ואם מדוע לא תקצר רוחי, והרבה מפורשים כזה הלשון (שם יד, ה) אם חרוצים ימיו:

Whenever we see an omer ani Rashi, we should consider whether Rashi actually said it. It does make sense semantically, since the surrounding comments are drawn from midrashic material. Yet it seems to be the case that many if not all of the omer ani Rashi's were not in the original, and are the work of some later author who wanted to distinguish his own remarks ("ani") from those of Rashi. Just something to keep in mind -- it is somewhat likely that it is not actually Rashi proposing this.

Rashi takes issue with the Targum's use of the word דהא as opposed to ארי in rendering the Hebrew כי. He asserts that דהא would mean "because" rather than "that". And that they saw "because" does not make sense. The only way it could possibly make sense is if rather than וחזו, "they saw", it would say "ואתחזיאו", "and they were seen" "because" of the departure of the Ananei HaKavod.

This would fit in well with a midrash, but this sort of midrash which departs from the narrative in fantastic ways is not typical of Onkelos' style.

In Ohev Ger, Shadal takes issue with Rashi's assertion. He writes:

That is, he cites some texts which have דהא in them -- מא"ד and קע"א. This is unsurprising, since this was the text, or a text, of Onkelos before Rashi. He disputes Rashi's interpretation of דהא. It does not mean "because", but is a way of saying that they perceived that this had happened. They did not see the actual body, for Aharon died on the mountain. Rashi thought, incorrectly, that it meant "because". And due to Rashi's complaint, most seforim modify דהא to ארי, incorrectly.

He also notes that קע"א has ואתחזיאו rather than חזו, but does not note the implication of it. And a reader who does not see Rashi inside won't know what to make of it. Therefore, I will discuss it. It is rather doubtful that this reflects an original girsa. Rather, קע"א has both ואתחזיאו and דהא. Most texts of Onkelos were emended to follow Rashi in peshat, by changing דהא to ארי. But this text changed וחזו to ואתחזיאו to match Rashi's suggested midrashic translation. As such, we should not heed this emendation either. (I am operating under the assumption that Rashi's mention of ואתחזיאו was his own design, rather than some actual Targumic text he had before himself.)

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin