Wednesday, January 26, 2011

As easy as falling off a ladder, pt i of ii

Summary: I champion Rashi's girsa, despite halachic challenges to details of his case.

Post: A pasuk in Mishpatim states:
13. But one who did not stalk [him], but God brought [it] about into his hand, I will make a place for you to which he shall flee.יג. וַאֲשֶׁר לֹא צָדָה וְהָאֱ־לֹהִים אִנָּה לְיָדוֹ וְשַׂמְתִּי לְךָ מָקוֹם אֲשֶׁר יָנוּס שָׁמָּה:

Rashi writes:

והא-להים אנה לידו: זימן לידו, לשון לא תאונה אליך רעה (תהלים צא י), לא יאונה לצדיק כל און (משלי יב כא), מתאנה הוא לי (מלכים ב' ה ז), מזדמן למצוא לי עילה:
 "but God brought it to his hand" -- and why did this come before him? This is what David said (I Shmuel 24:13) "As saith the proverb of the ancients: Out of the wicked cometh forth wickedness." And the proverb of the ancients is the Torah, which is the proverb of Hashem, who preceded the world. And where did the Torah state "Out of the wicked cometh forth wickedness"? "But God brought it to his hand." In what does the verse speak? Of two people, one who killed by accident and one who killed on purpose, and there were no witnesses to the matter who could testify. This one is then not killed and this one is not exiled. And Hashem appoints them to the same inn. This one who had killed deliberately sits under the ladder, while this one who killed accidentally climbs the ladder, and falls on the one who had killed deliberately and kills him. And witnesses testify on him and render him obligated in exile. Thus, it emerges that the one who killed by accident is exiles and the one who killed deliberately is killed.והא-להים אנה לידו: ולמה תצא זאת מלפניו, הוא שאמר דוד (שמואל א' כד יג) כאשר יאמר משל הקדמוני מרשעים יצא רשע, ומשל הקדמוני היא התורה, שהיא משל הקב"ה שהוא קדמונו של עולם. והיכן אמרה תורה מרשעים יצא רשע, והא-להים אנה לידו. במה הכתוב מדבר, בשני בני אדם, אחד הרג שוגג ואחד הרג מזיד, ולא היו עדים בדבר שיעידו, זה לא נהרג וזה לא גלה, והקב"ה מזמנן לפונדק אחד, זה שהרג במזיד יושב תחת הסולם, וזה שהרג שוגג עולה בסולם ונופל על זה שהרג במזיד והורגו, ועדים מעידים עליו ומחייבים אותו לגלות, נמצא זה שהרג בשוגג גולה, וזה שהרג במזיד נהרג:

The Taz brings two objections to this. First, how could be be עולה on the ladder, when according to the Mishnah only one who is יורד is liable to galus? Secondly, according to the meting out of Divine justice, the one who killed deliberately deserved death by sword, yet someone falling on him is more like sekilah. 

To consider the first objection first:
"ascending a ladder and falls on this one" -- the commentators explain that afterwards {J: meaning, after the ascending}, he descended and fell. For if while ascending, there would be no liability to exile, as is stated in Makkos (7b) -- the verse states "and cast upon him" -- until it falls in a way of falling. And in the gemara (daf 10b) there it states explicitly "and this one who killed accidentally descended on the ladder and fell upon him, etc."

To expand upon this point, the difference between ascending and descending a ladder is a point made in the Mishna itself, on 7a going on to 7b:
מתני' אלו הן הגולין ההורג נפש בשגגה היה מעגל במעגילה ונפלה עליו והרגתו היה משלשל בחבית ונפלה עליו והרגתו היה יורד בסולם ונפל עליו והרגתו הרי זה גולה אבל אם היה מושך במעגילה ונפלה עליו והרגתו היה דולה בחבית ונפסק החבל ונפלה עליו והרגתו 
היה עולה בסולם ונפל עליו והרגו הרי זה אינו גולה זה הכלל כל שבדרך ירידתו גולה ושלא בדרך ירידתו אינו גולה:
Thus, the Mishna is explicit in distinguishing between ascending and descending the ladder. The gemara then derives why specifically yerida:

גמ' מנא ה"מ אמר שמואל דאמר קרא (במדבר לה, כג) ויפל עליו וימות עד שיפול דרך נפילה
That is, based on the pasuk of Bemidbar 35:

כג  אוֹ בְכָל-אֶבֶן אֲשֶׁר-יָמוּת בָּהּ, בְּלֹא רְאוֹת, וַיַּפֵּל עָלָיו, וַיָּמֹת--וְהוּא לֹא-אוֹיֵב לוֹ, וְלֹא מְבַקֵּשׁ רָעָתוֹ.23 or with any stone, whereby a man may die, seeing him not, and cast it upon him, so that he died, and he was not his enemy, neither sought his harm;

Where they darshen וַיַּפֵּל as derech nefilah. And, on daf 10b, we read:
מהכא (שמות כא, יג) ואשר לא צדה והאלהים אנה לידו וגו' (שמואל א כד, יד) כאשר יאמר משל הקדמוני מרשעים יצא רשע וגו' במה הכתוב מדבר בשני בני אדם שהרגו את הנפש אחד הרג בשוגג ואחד הרג במזיד לזה אין עדים ולזה אין עדים הקב"ה מזמינן לפונדק אחד זה שהרג במזיד יושב תחת הסולם וזה שהרג בשוגג יורד בסולם ונפל עליו והרגו זה שהרג במזיד נהרג וזה שהרג בשוגג גולה

where, at least according to our girsa, the shogeg is yored. So too the girsa in Yalkut Shimoni, with yoreid.

The girsa in the Mechilta is more problematic to ascertain, I think:
[כא, יג] ואשר לא צדה וגו' - אחד שהרג נפש בשוגג ואחד שהרג נפש במזיד, בא מזיד ונפל ביד שוגג.

הא כיצד?
היה מעגל במעגלה ונפלה עליו והרגתו,
היה יורד (עולה) בסולם ונפלה עליו והרגו,
היה משלשל בחבית ונפלה עליו והרגתו -הרי זה גולה.

אבל היה מושך במעגלה ונפלה עליו והרגתו,
היה (יורד) עולה בסולם ונפל עליו והרגו,
היה דולה בחבית ונפסק החבל ונפל עליו והרגו - הרי זה אינו גולה, בא מזיד ונפל ביד שוגג.

וכן הוא אומר: כאשר יאמר משל הקדמוני וגו'
והיכן אמור?
ואשר לא צדה והאלהים אנה וגו: 
Besides this version of the Mechilta quoting the Mishna and reversing oleh and yoreid, this is presenting the Mishna rather than the one case of the meizid at the bottom of the sulam and the shogeg on the bottom of the sullam. I have my suspicions about this, that it said just oleh like Rashi's girsa and some sofer brought in the Mishna on the margin in order to show the difficulty with this reading.

But anyway, apparently, a bunch of meforshei Rashi answer that yes, he ascended, but subsequently but not mentioned, he was descending.

I would answer this in a similar, but slightly different, way. Oleh is a word which is מצרף. Depending on context, it can have different connotations. When placed in contrast to yoreid, as in the Mishnah, it means ascending as in the movement of going up. But, in the mashal, as in the gemara on 10b (if we were to place oleh there instead of yored), it is placed in contrast to יושב תחת הסולם. The point, then, is location, rather than action. One is situated under the sullam while one is situated upon the sullam, such that he is עולה בסולם. His specific direction at the time of falling is beside the point. Sure, make it work out in accordance with halacha when you picture it, but these details are not being mentioned or considered when describing this scene, which is showing Divine justice in arranging seemingly random events.

A second possibility, slightly less preferable, it that the one who made up this example of Divine justice carried out made an slight error in the details, because halachic precision was outside his focus.

A third possibility, which I prefer the least, is that Rashi erred in transcribing the Mishna from his midrashic source, and accidentally changed yoreid to oleh. Or that some scribe along the way erred in copying this Rashi. Or, some scribe made this accidental change in the gemara, before it got to Rashi, and Rashi faithfully copied what he had in his gemara.

What I would find most unlikely is that this midrash exists in these other sources and that Rashi deliberately modified it so that it would not accord with the halacha. That would make no sense. And so, I would regard efforts to "answer up" Rashi in ways that it is painting a different picture than these other sources, yet works with various uncomfortable contortions. Why in the world would Rashi set up such a situation?

Therefore, my strong assumption is that Rashi had some text of the midrash before him which had oleh instead of yoreid.

Furthermore, when now faced with these two parallel girsaot of the gemara, I would favor the girsa of Rashi. This because of the principle of lectio difficilior, the rule of the more difficult rule. This rule, applied in places where it is appropriate, is that if you are faced with two variant texts, the one which seems more difficult, especially on the surface level, but when subjected to closer scrutiny in fact works out, is more likely to be the original. This because a scribe is more likely to "fix" a seemingly erroneous text, but less likely to break a text by introducing difficulties and making it more awkward.

In this instance, I believe that there is no real difficulty with the use of oleh because of my argument of oleh being a word which is a מצרף, and that what is intended is that one is on the ladder while the other is on the bottom of the ladder.

Part two considers the sekilah vs. sayif aspect.

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