Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The psik after דבר in פרשת חקת

Summary: Birkas Avraham darshens another non-existent pesik. Let us look into it anyway.

Post: At the start of parashat Chukat, in the second pasuk, there is a munach legarmeih, which is a munach sign with a vertical bar after it, to show that it is a disjunctive (separating) accent, rather than a regular munach, which is a conjunctive (joining) accent. This is a regular trup sign, no different than a tipcha or tevir. It just comes in different contexts. I underlined it here in red:

Birkas Avraham regularly darshens such munach legarmeihs, conflating them with pesik, which is a vertical line which has much greater justification in being darshened. I've discussed this a number of times in the past -- for instance, here. Now that we've gotten past the pro forma objection, we can proceed to the actual content.

Birkas Avraham writes:

"In the verse [the one above], there is a vertical bar, a pesik trup after the word daber. And perhaps it hints that Moshe Rabbenu was commanded that the meaning of Parah Aduma should only be revealed to him, and not to give it over to the Israelites in his speech {dibbur}. As is stated in Bemidbar Rabba (perek 19:6) and in Pesikta Rabbati (perek 14), Vayikchu eilecha para aduma, Hashem said to Moshe, 'to you I am revealing the meaning of Parah Adumah, but to the others, it will be a chukah, a law with no explanation.'"
I guess the idea is that there is the word daber, speak, and then a pause or break before the 'to the Israelites'. The idea then is that something should not be conveyed.

This is in Midrash Rabba here:

ויקחו אליך פרה אדומה אמר רבי יוסי ברבי חנינא:
אמר לו הקב"ה למשה: לך אני מגלה טעם פרה, אבל לאחר חקה.
And in Pesikta Rabbati:

In both instances, the derasha is on vayikchu eilecha. To you they take it. Why? Because you, Moshe, know the reason. And this works in tandem with this being called a chukah immediately earlier.

To be fair, he calls it a remez, rather than the actual derivation of the idea in the midrash.

Related to this munach legarmeih, we actually have a masoretic note on it. The note reads ב' בטעם. That is, this particular trup appears twice. How so?

As Masoretic HaKeriyah explains:

He notes that "in the sifra {sefer, not the midrash}, וקח מאתם מטה מטה {meaning Bemidbar 17:17}:

יז  דַּבֵּר אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְקַח מֵאִתָּם מַטֶּה מַטֶּה לְבֵית אָב מֵאֵת כָּל-נְשִׂיאֵהֶם לְבֵית אֲבֹתָם--שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר, מַטּוֹת:  אִישׁ אֶת-שְׁמוֹ, תִּכְתֹּב עַל-מַטֵּהוּ.17 'Speak unto the children of Israel, and take of them rods, one for each fathers' house, of all their princes according to their fathers' houses, twelve rods; thou shalt write every man's name upon his rod.

and this one {in Chukat}, and the mnemonic is חוטרא לתורתא. To explain, חוטרא is the Aramaic translation of the word מטה {which appears in Bemidbar 17, above, in Korach}, and תורתא is the Aramaic translation of heifer, and that is this one {in Chukas}. And here you have the two דבר אל בני ישראלs with the trup of legarmeih, munach, revia."

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