Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Should we darshen the run of tevirs on וַיָּבֹא וַיֵּשֶׁב?

Summary: Birkas Avraham does. But assuming that it is correct (and not an error for darga), how are we to make sense of this trup on a 'peshat' level?

Post: Here is an interesting bit of trup in parashat Lech Lecha, in Bereishit 13:18:

Minchas Shai and Or Torah both write that there is a tevir in ויבא and not a דרגא. And so has the Leningrad Codex.

Birkas Avraham notes this weird trup and comments:

טעמי המקרא מלמדים על מתינות אברהם אבינו בקביעת מקומו

בפסוק (בראשית יג,יח) ויאהל אברם ויבא
וישב באלוני ממרא, תיבות ויבא וישב,
שתיהם בטעם תביר, ולפי הרגילות היה צריך
להיות מוטעם במרכא טפחא שמחברם ובטעם
קל (והתיבות שאחריהן היה משתנה הטעם
שלהם ממרכא טפחא). ואפשר שבא לרמוז, כי
לא היה זה בתכיפות ופשטות כדרך של מה
בכך. אלא הן ביאת אברהם אבינו והן ישיבתו
שם היתה במתינות ובישוב הדעת, לידע איך
להזהר מאנשי המקום ומחברתם.

That is, he is of the opinion that ויבא וישב should have regularly have had a joining accent of mercha tipcha, and what followed would have had some other, different trup. And he suggests that this connotes that both his coming and settling was done with pause and care, to know how to be careful of the people of their place and their society.

I don't know that I would leap into the idea of a mercha tipcha. We should be cognizant of the rules of trup and continuous dichotomy. A tevir at וישב indicated that it subdivides the clause beginning at the first word, ויאהל, until the tipcha at ממרא. It strikes me that that is a fine and appropriate place for a subdivision. If so, a joining trup on the preceding word ויבא would be the darga (which Minchas Shai and others rule out), and a disjunctive trup subdividing the tevir would be pashta or revii.

Even taking it as a disjunctive trup subdividing the tipcha, the preceding tevir on יובא is weird. In general, tevir will subdivide a clause ending in tipcha, but only in the first two words away from the tipcha. The tevir on ויבא is three words away. I would have expected, in this position with this level of subdivision, to have a zakef on ויבא rather than the tevir.

Maybe this tevir is a transformed pashta, acting to subdivide the clause ending in the tevir on וישב? That was my theory, and it seems that Wickes makes the same observation, based on a bunch of other pesukim. This is what he writes:

To quickly summarize the idea and its implications in this case, the initial, theoretical trup in our pasuk would have been munach revii revii tevir, but it would be transformed to munach revii pashta tevir. But a pashta can't stand so close to a tevir, so it is further transformed to a tevir, making for munach revii tevir tevir. Thus, the first of the two tevirs really functions as a revii, subdividing the clause ending in tevir.

To perform the actual continuous dichotomy on the pasuk, here is what we have.

We begin with:
וַיֶּאֱהַל אַבְרָם, וַיָּבֹא וַיֵּשֶׁב בְּאֵלֹנֵי מַמְרֵא--אֲשֶׁר בְּחֶבְרוֹן; וַיִּבֶן-שָׁם מִזְבֵּחַ, לַה.

We divide at the etnachta on logical grounds, and the first half of the pasuk is then:
וַיֶּאֱהַל אַבְרָם, וַיָּבֹא וַיֵּשֶׁב בְּאֵלֹנֵי מַמְרֵא--אֲשֶׁר בְּחֶבְרוֹן

We divide at the tipcha, into
וַיֶּאֱהַל אַבְרָם, וַיָּבֹא וַיֵּשֶׁב בְּאֵלֹנֵי מַמְרֵא
אֲשֶׁר בְּחֶבְרוֹן

At this point, we have a tipcha on the word מַמְרֵא. And what subdivides a clause ending in tipcha are tevirpashta, and revii. The tevir if closest (one or two words away), and the pashta and revii at greater distance. And we also have declared the tevir on וַיָּבֹא to be a transformed pashta, so it subdivides.

We have the following which will subdivide the aforementioned clause ending at מַמְרֵא:

The tevir on וַיֵּשֶׁב
The tevir on וַיָּבֹא
The revii on אַבְרָם

Since all of these are competing, it must be that the intent is that the earlier one in the pasuk subdivides first. [Because if the later one (say, the tevir of וַיֵּשֶׁב) subdivided first, then the trup appearing before it would need to be different, namely those trup symbols used to divide a clause ending in tevir.]

Therefore, the subdivision continues as follows:
וַיֶּאֱהַל אַבְרָם
וַיָּבֹא וַיֵּשֶׁב בְּאֵלֹנֵי מַמְרֵא

And then,
וַיֵּשֶׁב בְּאֵלֹנֵי מַמְרֵא

And finally, in the three word clause,
בְּאֵלֹנֵי מַמְרֵא

This is caused by pure syntax, combined with the rules and transformation rules of trup. As such, I would not adopt the neo-midrash offered in Birkas Avraham. Though indeed, there are multiple pauses in place here.

Indeed, here is why a mercha tipcha cannot work. The mercha tipcha would join וַיָּבֹא וַיֵּשֶׁב into a single unit, to be followed by בְּאֵלֹנֵי מַמְרֵא. Now בְּאֵלֹנֵי מַמְרֵא is surely a part of וַיֵּשֶׁב. Avraham settled, but he settled in a specific place. As such, וַיֵּשֶׁב בְּאֵלֹנֵי מַמְרֵא has to be a unit. (Of course, at some point, since it consists of three words, it needs to be divided, but we delay that until the last moment.) But בְּאֵלֹנֵי מַמְרֵא does not go on וַיָּבֹא. You come to a place, not in.

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