Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The dispute between Onkelos and Rashi over לַחָפְשִׁי

Summary: Whether it is to freedom or to [be a slave] to a free man. I doubt such a dispute actually exists.

Post: I saw an interesting idea in Chelek HaDikduk.

Towards the start of Mishpatim, we encounter this pasuk:

2. Should you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall work [for] six years, and in the seventh [year], he shall go out to freedom without charge.ב. כִּי תִקְנֶה עֶבֶד עִבְרִי שֵׁשׁ שָׁנִים יַעֲבֹד וּבַשְּׁבִעִת יֵצֵא לַחָפְשִׁי חִנָּם:

and Rashi explains lechofshi as:

to freedom: Heb. לַחָפְשִׁי, to freedom.לחפשי: לחירות:

As an uncommon word, it bears translation to a more familiar term. Onkelos renders it almost identically:

כא,ב כִּי תִקְנֶה עֶבֶד עִבְרִי, שֵׁשׁ שָׁנִים יַעֲבֹד; וּבַשְּׁבִעִת--יֵצֵא לַחָפְשִׁי, חִנָּם.אֲרֵי תִּזְבּוֹן עַבְדָּא בַּר יִשְׂרָאֵל, שֵׁית שְׁנִין יִפְלַח; וּבִשְׁבִיעֵיתָא--יִפּוֹק לְבַר חוֹרִין, מַגָּן.

Here, instead of meaning 'to freedom', as Rashi renders it, Onkelos renders it as 'to [be] a free man'. For both, it is a noun, but there is a slightly different way of presenting it.

According to Chelek HaDikduk, if I understand him correctly, Onkelos is not presenting this nuanced, slightly different explanation from Rashi, but basically saying the same thing. Rather, he is saying that he goes out to a [different] free man, to be a slave to that other free man.

To put it mildly, I doubt that this is what Onkelos intends. Perhaps if this is intended as remez, I am OK with it. But it certainly is not peshat in Onkelos.

I see he refers to Etz HaChaim, by Rabbi Chaim ben Yaakov Abulafia. See the bottom of the first column.

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