Thursday, August 05, 2010

posts so far for parshat Re`eh

  1. Re'eh sources -- revamped.
  2. The Gra on the trup of asser ta'aser -- Part of a series focusing on the Vilna Gaon's interpretation of trup, this one focuses on the pasuk in Re'eh, 'asser te'asser, and works the trup into the famous derasha on those words.
  3. The trup on acharei derech mevo hashemesh -- An analysis of the trup on acharei derech mevo hashemesh, according to Rashi, Rashbam, and Shadal. Does Rashi have a complete theory of trup?
  4. The other side of the Jordan -- A pasuk which must have been written in the midbar. What about the reference to Gilgal, then?

In 2009, in Re'eh sources, I gather a nice group of meforshim on the parsha and haftarah, and link to a mikraos gedolos, by perek and aliyah. This is a very useful starting point for learning through the parsha with meforshim.

In One understandable, and one perplexing, instance of censorship in Baal Haturim, I explore how certain controversial text was edited out or modified in different versions. It is perplexing what one would find offensive in an injunction not to raise pigs.

In Why shouldn't we eat the chassidah, I consider the gemara which explains its traits, and draw a rationalist / non-rationalist distinction regarding timtum halev in whether to agree with the Kotzker Rebbe's premise that the bird would only be non-kosher if its had an undesirable trait.

In A good friend will help you move; a true friend will help you move the body, I manage a tie-in to the parsha, in that a meisis to Avodah Zarah who is a friend who is like your soul should nevertheless be reported rather than concealed. The main body of the post consists of tracing the history of story which appeared in Rabbi Bibi's article in the Jewish Star, about how none of the youngster's friends would assist him when he came to them claiming that he had killed someone, but his father's half-a-friend did.

In The target of Re'eh, I grapple with why Re'eh is singular but the remainder of the verse is plural. Ibn Ezra says it is distributive; Ibn Caspi suggests it refers to the entire nation, and Avi Ezer says that it is a ziruz and hazmana and thus does not take gender or number.

In Why specifically the son of your mother?, I continue on a point started last year (2008) about "your brother, the son of your mother." Ibn Ezra's remarks seem to contain some cryptic, philosophical derash. Avi Ezer dismisses this idea and provides a straightforward explanation, but I would side with Mechokekei Yehuda and Ibn Caspi who say otherwise. However, I don't think I agree with the substance of their interpretation of Ibn Ezra's philosophical derash.

In Chizkuni and You are not *Able* to Eat, I consider Chizkuni's explanation of Rashi's midrashic remarks about the identity of the Yevusi, in different places as descendants of the Chiti with whom Avraham dealt when purchasing the Cave of the Patriarchs, or as descendants of Avimelech. I disagree with him in one or two points.

In Rav Papa Stumbles, I consider a curious gemara in which Rav Pappa's stumbling upon a ladder is blamed on possible lack of charity. I consider the Gra's tie-in to the names of the trup symbols on a pasuk, but then give an explanation I believe is more likely, based on the symbolism of ladders.

In Why pour out the blood like water, I consider the explanation of Rav Yonasan Eibeshitz, and then my own suggestion on the level of peshat, that it is spilling it rather than sprinkling it on the mizbeach.

In Who Was The Baal HaTurim's Woman, I consider just who she was. I have reasons to doubt Rabbi Akiva Eiger's explanation that it is a reference to Mary and her son, and instead believe that he is referring to the Intellect.

In 2008, in Shadal on Tithes, I note an interesting explanation Shadal has about tithes -- that there is only one, which is to be eaten in Jerusalem. And that at the end of the third year, if the produce has not been eaten in Yerushalayim, it should be distributed to the Levi or to the pauper. Shadal claims that the practice of giving all the produce of that year to the pauper rather than taking it to Yerushalayim is a rabbinic enactment so that people should not lie to the paupers and tell them that it was all already consumed in Yerushalayim. And the Biblical vidui maaser is also to ensure that the maaser is distributed correctly, for people would not lie to God.

In Would Hashem Empower A False Prophet, I discuss an interesting theological question which relates to a sequence of psukim in Reeh. If a false prophet makes an os or mofes, and it comes to pass, yet he says to worship idols, we do not believe him. This, states the next verse, is Hashem testing us. Does this mean that Hashem is granting this false prophet actual power to predict the future or to perform wonders? Different commentators offer their different takes on the question, and how to read peshat in those pesukim.

In Your Brother, The Son of Your Mother, I consider this case of apparent duplication from the perspective of the gemara, Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Aharon ben Yosef the Karaite, Targum, and trup. Is this an instance of poetic duplication or is it dealing with two separate individuals?

In 2004, in The Blessing and the Curse, I cite the opening words to Re`eh: רְאֵה, אָנֹכִי נֹתֵן לִפְנֵיכֶם--הַיּוֹם: בְּרָכָה, וּקְלָלָה.
אֶת-הַבְּרָכָה--אֲשֶׁר תִּשְׁמְעוּ, אֶל-מִצְו‍ֹת ה אֱלֹקֵיכֶם
and suggest that the keeping of the Torah, and living a life of Torah and mitzvot, is the blessing. Homiletical, I know, but clearly marked as such, and I think the message behind it is true.

In 2003, I focused on false prophets, as well as a bal tosif/bal tigra issue.

In Parshat Re`eh: Don't Add Nor Subtract: Mitzvot or Avodah? - I focused on the specific language of the prohibition of adding/subtracting something in this week's parsha (to the exclusion of elsewhere).
I point out that based on the context, although the pasuk in Devarim 13:1 mentions that which Hashem commands, the intent seems to be not that one should not add or subtract commandments, but rather methods of worshipping Hashem. That is, do not see idolatrous practices and do similar things for Hashem, nor remove modes of worship which Hashem has commanded. This context is the preceding chapter. The perek division, imposed later by Christians, contradicts the Jewish subdivisions of the text in the form of whitespace breaks (petuchot and setumot) makes it seem to have another meaning, either mitzvot in general, or related to whether a prophet can add or subtract mitzvot (the juxtoposition of which doubtless forms a basis of drashot that a prophet cannot do this.)

One point I did not make at the time is that there is another bal tosifu/tigre'u, in Devarim 4: 2 which is more explicitly about commandments in general, based on the context.

In Re`eh #2: Can a false prophet perform miracles? - I focus on a dispute in the Sifre. Devarim 13:2-3 states that a false prophet can do miracles, and Hashem lets this happen/causes the miracles to happen to test us if we will be true to Him.
Two opinions: either Hashem is actually doing this as a test, or else this is a true prophet who performed miracles for true prophecies in the past, and is now relying on his chazaka, established precedent as a true prophet, {and , I would fill in, Hashem let this happen even though He knew the prophet would later do this.}

Re`eh #3: How can you tell if a prophet is false? - I detail the criteria for declaring a prophet false, on the basis of the Rambam in his peticha to his perush HaMishnayot. In short, he has to give a public, positive prophecy which does not come to pass. This is because Hashem can backtrack on negative prophecy if the people repent (think Yonah in Ninveh). Further, Hashem can recant a promise to an individual not made public, if the merits of the person are reduced (think of Yaakov's fear when about to confront Esav, according to the midrash on katonti miKol hachadasim). Another major precedent/source-text: Yirmiyahu's showdown with the false prophet Chananya ben Azur in Yirmiyahu perek 28. This should form the basis for determining a true and false prophet, and in fact, in Shofetim, next week's parsha, in the devar torah entitled Dvar torah for Shoftim #4: Was the Lubavitcher Rebbe a Navi Sheker?, I dealt with the fact that if we accept (which we don't), as many Lubavitcher's claim, that the Rebbe said certain things as prophecy, then he would be a false prophet, rather than that those things must be true even though it is readily apparent that they are not.

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