Thursday, January 27, 2011

Asher lo ye'adah

Summary: Some readings of the lo/lo by amah ivriyah.

Post: In parashat Mishpatim, we encounter this pasuk:

8. If she is displeasing to her master, who did not designate her [for himself], then he shall enable her to be redeemed; he shall not rule over her to sell her to another person, when he betrays her.ח. אִם רָעָה בְּעֵינֵי אֲדֹנֶיהָ אֲשֶׁר [לא] לוֹ יְעָדָהּ וְהֶפְדָּהּ לְעַם נָכְרִי לֹא יִמְשֹׁל לְמָכְרָהּ בְּבִגְדוֹ בָהּ:

The ketiv is לא but the krei is לוֹ. Rashi explains it, seemingly based on both:

אשר לא יעדה: שהיה לו ליעדה ולהכניסה לו לאשה, וכסף קנייתה הוא כסף קידושיה. כאן רמז לך הכתוב שמצוה ביעוד ורמז לך שאינה צריכה קדושין אחרים:

He should have performed yiud, which is the cause for the krei, but in fact did not perform it. I would take it that this derasha is reading the pasuk in a multi-valent manner, such that it is lo with both an aleph and a vav.

The Samaritans simply keep the ketiv of לא and explain it in that way in their targum. But something interesting in the Septuagint:

8 ἐὰν μὴ εὐαρεστήσῃ τῷ κυρίῳ αὐτῆς ἣν αὐτῷ καθωμολογήσατο, ἀπολυτρώσει αὐτήν· ἔθνει δὲ ἀλλοτρίῳ οὐ κύριός ἐστι πωλεῖν αὐτήν, ὅτι ἠθέτησεν ἐν αὐτῇ.
8 If she be not pleasing to her master, after she has betrothed herself to him, he shall let her go free; but he is not at liberty to sell her to a foreign nation, because he has trifled with her.

They take it as לוֹ, in accordance with the krei. This then means that he actually has performed yiud, however they define it.

The Peshitta (the Syriac Christian translation) takes it the same way, translating the krei:

So too Onkelos's translation. So too the Vulgate:

218If she displease the eyes of her master to whom she was delivered, he shall let her go: but he shall have no power to sell her to a foreign nation, if he despise displicuerit oculis domini sui cui tradita fuerit dimittet eam populo autem alieno vendendi non habet potestatem si spreverit eam

This often has very different meanings, depending on what yiud is. What did he do already? Is it mere delivery? Is it some sort of quasi-betrothal, or full betrothal.

Regardless, I would not take these interpretations as necessarily indicative of what was written, other than of course the Samaritan being a good attestation to the ketiv.

Minchas Shai discusses this lo / lo krei and ketiv as some length:

"It is read לוֹ, and this is one of three instances in the Torah where an aleph is written and we read it with a vav. And the tradition (masorah) for it is given in parashat Shemini upon the pasuk אשר לא כרעים, Vayikra 11:21. And all of them come {=are spelled that way} for the sake of a derasha as I will write upon each one of them in its place, beEzrat Hashem. And upon this one, they darshened {as we saw in Rashi} that he should have performed yiud with her and to maintain her, and just as Onkelos translates, dekayma leih, for the mitzvah of yiud precedes the mitzvah of redemption. And even though it is written with an aleph, we darshen it as if it were written with a vav. That is to say that he should have married her {via yiud}, and he does not want, he lets her be redeemed. And this is the reason, for why should it have written asher lo {with an aleph} yeadah? This is obvious that the Scriptures is talking about where he did not perform yiud, for if he had, she would need a get, and furthermore would not require redemption by her father. For at the time of the yiud, the servitude disappears from her. And from the repetition of the Scriptures we may derive that it is for the purpose of derasha. And this is as they darshen as well in Sotah, at the end of perek kesheim, upon the verse {Iyov 13:15}   הֵן יִקְטְלֵנִי, לא (לוֹ) אֲיַחֵל;    אַךְ-דְּרָכַי, אֶל-פָּנָיו אוֹכִיחַ. And see what Ibn Ezra writes here, and in the sefer haZohar, and what I will write in parashat Behar Sinai upon the pasuk {Vayikra 25:30} asher lo chomah, and in Yeshaya 49:5 on the verse veYisrael lo ye'asef, and in Yeshaya 63:9 on bechol tzaratam lo tzar, and in Tehillim 100, velo anachnu.

End Minchas Shai.

I think that in general, we are intended to take the krei as the meaning, for the purpose of the krei especially in this instance is to indicate meaning. For it is pronounced the same, since the aleph is silent. (Though I've pointed out in the past that there is indeed a slight difference in pronunciation, with a cholam malei rather than a cholam chaser. More than that, the prosody, which follows meaning, would be slightly different.) Meanwhile, the selection of the specific em kriah (mater lectionis) was initially irregular, as we see occasionally in Tanach, with a heh ending sometimes representing cholam.

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