Monday, August 09, 2010

Deah vs. Reah in Re'eh

A snarky guest-post over at DovBear, by david a. A full quote:
One premise that is very basic to the student of the Talmud and can be found on nearly every page of the Gemorrah is the concept that the Torah was written with great precision and that every single word, maybe every single letter, is expected to mean or convey something. And, therefore extraneous words are used to infer new laws or details within a law.

Many years back, on a Shabbat, I am sitting in shul during kri-at hatoreh. To be honest, I’m quite an impatient person and have trouble listening to the leining, so I usually spend the time quietly reading something on my own. But on this particular occasion I am actually listening to the parsha. It was Re-ay and the baal korei is intoning the section on forbidden animals (Devarim 14). Now, aside from a few differences in choice of verbiage and one major contradiction in law, superficially, this section seems a shortened repetition of the same laws as promulgated back in Parshat shimini.

As is well known that within the section, the Torah provides a listing of 21 birds that are forbidden to be eaten (Only 20 in Lev.). As the reader chants verse Dev 14:13 V’hara, v’et ha-eiya, v’ha’da-ya l’mina.

I flip back to Lev. (11:14) and read the corresponding verse as given there.

V’et ha’da-ya v’et ha-eiya, l’mina.

So, as can readily be seen, in the verse (Dev. 14:13) consisting of only 5 words there are 3 textual variations vis-à-vis Lev. Three in one tiny verse. Now, for a precision document, this just doesn’t make sense. What exactly is the meaning of these changes? Did Moishe forget what he wrote just 40 years ago? Did he not bother to check his copy of the earlier text?

So, I consulted the standard commentaries. It doesn’t/didn’t seem to bother anyone among the main ones. (or did I miss someone). Over the years, I’ve asked the question to many of our learned crowd and most just shrug their shoulders. It troubles no one. Some call upon the famous “fun a kashei shtarbt men nisht” (I.e. One doesn’t die from a question.), as if that provides a very insightful response. Obviously there is something wrong with me.

However, in my most humble opinion, the invocation of this famed sound bite should only be permitted when there is truly NO conceivable reasonable response.

I know, I know, the simple, quite obvious and very likely correct explanation cannot be invoked as it is considered to be “outside the pale”.
First let us see these two pesukim. In Vayikra 11:14:

14. the kestrel, and the vulture after its species,יד. וְאֶת הַדָּאָה וְאֶת הָאַיָּה לְמִינָהּ:

and in Devarim 14:13:

13. and the white vulture, and the black vulture, and the kite after its species;יג. וְהָרָאָה וְאֶת הָאַיָּה וְהַדַּיָּה לְמִינָהּ:

There is indeed an extra species here. That is the one real distinction. Yes, there are other minor changes, such as whether there is a leading et, the order of the words, and the spelling (yud vs. aleph) of daya, but I would not consider this to be
3 textual variations vis-à-vis Lev. Three in one tiny verse.
Yes, this is Mishneh Torah, a restatement. There is no need, on a peshat level, to use the exact same language in each location, nor should we expect it. And if you want to know the reason for a moved et, ask Shimon HaAmsuni, who darshened every es. Or ask the Torah codes experts, or kabbalists who consider the entire Torah to be a lengthy name of God. To those who maintain this, these minor variations are meaningful, even if we aren't aware of the cause for every variation. I don't believe that we have an explicit explanation of every es in the Torah, even though Shimon HaAmsuni presumably delineated them.

But on a peshat level, only the extra species is really meaningful and need be addressed. The other textual variants don't bother me in the slightest. (I am not sure what this guest poster wants to be the "obvious and very likely correct explanation" -- either that the variations don't matter, a la Ibn Ezra elsewhere, or that the text is deficient, or that it is from a different author. Or that the author of Devarim was unsure of the daled or resh? (I think he means this one.) That the Samaritan text is the correct one? He doesn't say, because he believes it to be so obvious. Though he elaborates in the comment section there.)

Now, this variation was certainly noticed in the time of Chazal. The Samaritans spotted it and changed it -- one of the reasons Chazal told them ziyaftem et Toratchem. Thus:

This text is of parashat Reeh. The text on the right is our Masoretic text, while the text on the left is the Samaritan Torah. Note how they change not just this pasuk, but the surrounding pesukim as well, so that it precisely matches that of Vayikra. This sort of harmonization is precisely what the Samaritans did, and why Chazal accused them of forging their Torah. Meanwhile, on a peshat level, any retelling will have slight meaningful or non-meaningful differences, and on a derash level, these slight variations may be all-important. It is to the credit of the Masoretic text that it does not try to "fix" such problems, even if some of the problems may have originated at some point due to scribal error.

(I would note that while the Samaritan Torah removes leminah, the Samaritan Targum does have it.

Consider also the Septuagint:
13 καὶ τὸν γύπα καὶ τὸν ἴκτινον καὶ τὰ ὅμοια αὐτῷ 
13 and the vulture, and the kite and the like to it,

where they only have the two, as well as leminah.

How did Chazal deal with this change in an added species of non-kosher bird? Rashi cites the gemara in Chulin:

the white vulture and the black vulture: (אַיָּה)(דַּיָּה) are [names for] the same [or similar] bird. Why is its name called רָאָה ? Because it sees (רוֹאֶה) very well. And why does [Scripture] admonish you with all its names? In order not to give an opponent any opportunity to disagree, so that the one who wishes to prohibit should not call it רָאָה, and the one who wishes to permit it will say,“This one is named דַּיָּה,” or“This one is named אַיָּה,” and Scripture did not prohibit this one!" And in the case of birds, [Scripture] enumerates the unclean species, to teach that the clean birds are more numerous than the unclean [in contrast with Rashi on verses 4-5, regarding animals]. Therefore, it enumerates the fewer ones. - [Chul. 63b]והראה ואת האיה וגו': היא ראה היא איה היא דיה. ולמה נקרא שמה ראה, שרואה ביותר. ולמה הזהיר בכל שמותיה, שלא ליתן פתחון פה לבעל דין לחלוק, שלא יהא האוסרה קורא אותה ראה והבא להתיר אומר, זו דיה שמה או איה שמה, וזו לא אסר הכתוב. ובעופות פרט לך הטמאים, ללמד שהעופות הטהורים מרובים על הטמאים, לפיכך פרט את המועט:

See the gemara inside, as well as the Point by Point Summay of the daf. My take on it is that there is one position that two or three are the same species, and another which maintains that Devarim repeated this section to add an additional species, just as elsewhere different accounts supplement one another -- that the Torah is "rich" in one place and "poor" in the other, as it focuses on various details. (Though the gemara harmonized all the positions in braytot to say the same thing.)

Other classic meforshim deal with this as well. For example, we have Ibn Ezra, who writes on pasuk 11:

11. You may eat every clean bird.יא. כָּל צִפּוֹר טְהֹרָה תֹּאכֵלוּ:

[יד, יא]
כל צפור טהורה תאכלו -
הנה צפור שם כלל ותור וגוזל על השני מינין, שהם תחת צפור.
וכן: דיה ואיה תחת דאה, כי עתה הוסיף לבאר.
Thus, tzipor is the general term. So too, in terms of daya and aya in place in daah (or perhaps be goes raah -- see Mechokekei Yehuda, Yahel Or). Thus, either the list here in Shofetim is an expansion of the list there, or else the word raah in the beginning of the pasuk in Shofetim is then elaborated to be the two species listed later in the verse.

Chizkuni says as follows:
Thus, more or less like Rashi. All four species are the same

Ibn Janach also writes about this at length, citing various Geonim on the matter -- I'm not going to translate, so read it carefully:

הראה . הוא שם מין מן העוף נוסף על העשרים מין
חנזכרים בספר ויקרא ופרושו בו בערבי אל ג׳אריח, וזה
שם כולל לכל העוף הדורס, והמקום הזה איננו כי אם מקום
מין ידוע מן העוף, וראוי אם כן שיהיה לו שם מיוחד לו,
מבלי זולתו ממינו. וכבר אמרו קצת החכמים, כי דאה
בדל״ת וראה בר״ש שני שמות למין אחד. אמרו (חולין
ס״ג:) מאי שנא הכא דכתיבא דאה ומאי שנא הכא
דכתיבא ראה?  אלא שמע מינה דאה וראה אתת היא. ועל
המאמר הזה סמך חפץ ראש-כלה ז״ל בספרו המצות. ורבנו
שמואל בן חפני ז״ל סמך על הנראה מהכתוב, ואנו נוטים
אל דעתו, כי אם היה דאה וראה שני שמות למין אחד, לא
היה שונה בפרשה אתת למין אחד שני שמות רצונו לומר
הראה ברש והדיה והיה אוסר המין ההוא בשני השמות
האלה [באמרו והראה ואת האיה והדיה למינה] וזה מה
שלא יתכן ואין לו ענין מפני שהוא ללא צורך ואין זה
ראוי בדברי הנבואה. ואמרתי כי הראה בריש והדיה שני
שמות למין אחד, מפני שהדיה היא הדאה בדלת עצמה׳
והאחת משני הלשונות נזכרה בספר ויקרא והשנית
במשנה תורה וכן פרשם הגאון רב סעדיה ז׳׳ל פרוש אחד
ואם הדאה בדלת היא הדיה והראה בריש היא הדאה בדלת
תהיה בריש הדיה עצמה, וכבר הוסיף אחת על השנית
באסור וזה מה שאינו ראוי בדברי בני אדם כל שכן בדברי
הבורא יתעלה, כי זה מדברי בטלה שיאמר השמר מן הארי
.( והלביא, והלביא הוא הארי עצמו, וזה מבואר. (סה״ש 463

He continues that the aya is a separate creature.

See, also, and consider, Tg. Yonatan:
the daitha (lammer geyer?) white or black, which is a bird of prey, a kind of vulture

At the end of the day, one possibility which stands out is that since daled and resh switch off because of orthographic similarity, it is quite possible that one is a variant for the other, which somehow entered the text of sefer Devarim. Yet the pattern of veEt vs. not veEt but standing at the end seems somewhat against it. And these might be similar species with similar names (aya, daya, raya) which are then listed together (see the pattern by Midian), or the more general followed by the specific (as Ibn Ezra says). While the Torah text gives species and no explicit reason, one might derive a general rule from the specifics (e.g. those species which are dores). And then these are just examples, and another example may be added. No harm, no fowl. :) Or else it was a subspecies and covered under leminah from earlier. Alas, we don't know definitively the identities of each of these species, so it is hard to tell.


E-Man said...

David a., I believe, has said how he believes the Torah is clearly not written by a single author. I would assume his obvious explanation is that the Torah is not written by G-D and that is why there are these mistakes.

I appreciate the explanation of the discrepancies. Very helpful.

zach said...

How about the Rashi on 14:7? It really seems like he is struggling with this issue, and comes up with a very weak (and far-fetched) teretz regarding shesuah as a separate species with two backbones.

joshwaxman said...

while this indeed touches on the issue, and is similarly discussed by the gemara in chullin, i think it is orthogonal to the topic at hand. (and i should warn, i am not well-versed in this topic.) you are right that both of these are extras and changes over Vayikra, and so Chazal deal with them, and Rashi cites Chazal in resolving this. (the Samaritans simply remove the word haShesua, and the problem is miraculously solved! :)

shesua can mean cloven, as a modification of hooves. if so, there is never any problem whatsoever of adding anything, over the text in Vayikra. it is mere clarification, and the problem never begins. but if it is indeed a separate animal, then it could be any animal. That Rav Chanan bar Abba gave the explanation of this particular animal, which the gemara itself labels exotic, may make this particular identification weak and far-fetched. (Though Rashi doesn;t necessarily do this out of desperation so much as presenting Chazal's standard traditional narrative.) But to explain it as an animal is not necessarily *AS* weak and farfetched.


david a. said...

R’ Josh.

Again thanks. Truly an excellent review. I’m always glad to learn something new.

However, I see then that I did a poor job of presenting my point. The question I wanted to ask was: “what is the most reasonable explanation for the textual variations?”. I suppose then that my post didn’t come across that way.

However, to address your post, please note that the Gemorrah, Rashi et al. are actually responding to a different question. I understand their question as: “Based on the text, does Dev. have a different set of forbidden birds than Lev.?”

The answer is (of course) NO, Because both lists really are the same. And as for the textual difference in names, i.e. the 3 (or 4) names in verse Deut 14:14 and its corresponding verse in Lev. all refer to the same bird. Good. And then the follow-up question “If they are synonymous, why mentions all 3(4).”

But to me this does not explain why are 2 birds mentioned in Lev. and 3 here and the “et”. And of course if you read through the rest of chapter there are more minor variations.

And your dismissal that the textual variations don’t mean anything, to me, does not concur with all the “Limudim” in the Gemorrah from words and extra letters.

I can see that for narrative passages varied texts might not mean anything. After all Dev.’s recounting of events constitute hundreds of varied text, but this should NOT be for passages containing laws.

joshwaxman said...


"does not concur with all the “Limudim” in the Gemorrah from words and extra letters."
while they indeed darshen all sorts of things from words and extra letters, many modern scholars have pointed out that they do not do this consistently and across the board. they are not comprehensive. that is, there are are plenty of instances where they don't darshen it. yet here they did derive this for a specific midrashic purpose, as an answer to those who might think that it was referring to a different bird. if you accept the Talmudic methodology, then accept the interpretation, which is not at all far-fetched as far as derash goes. if you reject the interpretation as far-fetched, well, you would also reject the methodology. but don't bring the methodology as proof that something is "wrong".

meanwhile, on a peshat level, absolutely nothing is wrong, and Ibn Ezra as well as many a secular modern Biblical scholar will tell you the difference in spelling and et in a retelling is not indicative of a corrupt text.

joshwaxman said...

"However, to address your post, please note that the Gemorrah, Rashi et al. are actually responding to a different question. I understand their question as: “Based on the text, does Dev. have a different set of forbidden birds than Lev.?”"

I would not understand the gemara this way. Besides any overt conclusions, at the least, this may be going on behind the scenes, especially of some of the braytot.

also, be careful about taking the maskana of the gemara as indicative of the intent of each of the sources cited by the gemara. thus, it is NOT a foregone conclusion that Abaye truly holds that aya = daya = raya. all he really said was that daah = raah. and one brayta seems to suggest that raah is indeed a new bird.


joshwaxman said...

regardless, indeed people in shul are not the best to ask about such matters. your typical frum Jew does not know about textual variants and how to look them up, or how to see what the Geonim and Rishonim said about a particular difficult textual variant. their (justified) ignorance doesn't mean that there is no possible answer, or answer within Jewish tradition, however.

Rabbi Joshua Maroof said...

There are languages in which letters that are orthographically similar are alternated in writing and even in pronunciation. For instance, in Hindi, the 'z' and 'j' sounds are written identically except for a small dot, and are pronounced interchangeably, depending upon the speaker. The same goes with several other letters in the language. We observe this phenomenon in Hebrew to some extent (think Shin and Sin, or Tsadi and Sin, for instance) and in Aramit as well.


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