Thursday, July 15, 2010

Posts so far for parshat Devarim


  1. Devarim sources, 2011 edition. Links by aliyah and perek to an online Mikraos Gedolos, plus to many meforshim on the parsha and haftara. This is quite expanded over previous years. For instance, there are many more meforshei Rashi here. Here is the 2010 edition, and the 2009 edition.

  1. Is kesufim a comment on anashim or chachamim? Understanding Rashi, in light of the original words of the Sifrei.
  2. Is there an extra yud in our Torah in parshat Devarim? And what Rashi means when he says that the word is chaser yud. Or perhaps chaser aleph.

  3. Siryon or Shiryon, and whether the Targum Yonatan reveals an alternate vocalization. I do not think it does.

  4. The parsing, and meaning, of Et Kol Ir Metim. Shadal asserts that it is a dispute between Targum and trup.

  5. Known to your tribes -- and how Rashi's midrashic interpretation is against the trup.

  6. Considering Ibn Ezra and the secret of the 12 pesukim. The position is well known, but the discussion about it is interesting.

  7. The cubit of Og, and how we can understand it on the level of peshat and in line with derech hateva.

  8. And as a followup, Mizrachi tries to explain Rashi based on the midrashim in the gemara, and how Rambam regards literal interpretation of those midrashim.
  9. A fun story of bribery in Sefarad.
  1. The slew of place names -- and the approach of different meforshim. Are they one place, multiple places, one speech, multiple speeches, etc.
  1. Did Moav or Israel begin the hostilities? With a Rashi suggesting that we did, in a permissible manner.

  2. A mote in the eye or a sliver between the teeth? The idiom, in its various variants.


In Parsing Devarim 1:1, I discuss the omnisignificant midrashic approach towards the first pasuk of Devarim, which gives each place name an import, positive or negative.

In Parsing Yeshaya 1:5, I discuss how trup and dikduk interact, and seem to suggest a different parse of the pasuk than the one Ibn Ezra gives.

In Yeshaya 1, I discuss Yeshaya's initiation prophecy, sacrificial offerings vs. prayer, and some practical derashot of Chazal on some of the pesukim in this perek.

In Why Begin Here?, I suggest a motivation for the recounting of conquering of various nations by others, similar to the motivation cited by Rashi for beginning the Torah with Bereishit.

  • Moshe: Not a Man of Words?
    • Devarim is a six month long oration, or at least consists of several long speeches. Did Moshe not protest earlier, in Shemot 4, thatלֹא אִישׁ דְּבָרִים אָנֹכִי - " I am not a man of words?" One could see his development as a leader. (According to midrashim that take this as a reference to a physical malady, one can claim this was healed at Har Sinai. On a pshat level one might say that in Hashem's response, He says that He will be with Moshe's mouth.)Rabbi Tanchuma answers this with a mashal, contrasting speech as viewed by the Creator of speech as opposed to how it is viewed by other humans. To Hashem, who created the mouth and speech, Moshe is not a man of words, but to others, his words are words, just as inferior argaman {purple dye} to a king is not argaman, but to others, it is. Then, a note on why someone would deny to the king that he was selling argaman.
  • Believe in Hashem, Become Like Hashem?
    • An interesting, daring midrash, based on a pasuk in Hallel and another in Yirmiyahu. כְּמוֹהֶם, יִהְיוּ עֹשֵׂיהֶם-- כֹּל אֲשֶׁר-בֹּטֵחַ בָּהֶם. If idolators are like idols, then one who serves Hashem, all the more so. To bolster the case, a pasuk in Yirmiyahu, parsed midrashically and with the end lopped off:בָּרוּךְ הַגֶּבֶר, אֲשֶׁר יִבְטַח בַּה' וְהָיָה ה!

אֵלֶּה הַדְּבָרִים, אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר מֹשֶׁה אֶל-כָּל-יִשְׂרָאֵל, בְּעֵבֶר, הַיַּרְדֵּן: בַּמִּדְבָּר בָּעֲרָבָה מוֹל סוּף בֵּין-פָּארָן וּבֵין-תֹּפֶל, וְלָבָן וַחֲצֵרֹת--וְדִי זָהָב.
"These are the words which Moses spoke unto all Israel beyond the Jordan; in the wilderness, in the Arabah, over against Suph, between Paran and Tophel, and Laban, and Hazeroth, and Di-zahab."

Rashi presents one side, in which all the place names convey some hidden meaning, but there is another view, that of R' Yosi ben Dormaskit, that these are in fact actual geographical locations. This argument takes place on other verses in Tanach as well. I categorized the approaches as open vs. closed canon, and suggested that this might give an insight into Chazal's attitude towards the meaning of pshat and drash.
  • Is Devarim rebuke? Or a pep talk?
    • I presented two approaches - the classic one that Dvarim is a rebuke of the Israelites. Then I suggested that it can be viewed as an encouragement, or pep talk, to the Jews at the end of their long stay in the Wilderness. That is, the only reason they had not inherited the land previously was that Hashem did not want it, because of various sins, but now, they would enter the land, under the leadership of Yehoshua. To that end, Moshe also details other groups that inherited the land Hashem wanted them to, even though the previous inhabitants were giants.
      It is good reading, and I hope you enjoy it.
to be continued...


Jeremy said...

Hi Josh - long time reader and a big fan.

I know you're a computer guy, so maybe it's not too much trouble to ask you this:

I (and probably others) really like printing out your stuff on the parsha and reading it on shabbos - can you add a print function, as printing from your blog always prints many extra pages to get down to the end of all the sidebars. I can paste it into word, but it's not as nice.


joshwaxman said...

i'm in the process of doing this. i implemented it to a limited extent, taking all sorts of items out of the printed version, but am still struggling with making all the CSS i took from elsewhere be excluded.



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