Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Daf Yomi for Yoma 74: How do we get fasting from תְּעַנּוּ אֶת-נַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶם

From A Concise Dictionary of Akkadian, we see the word napishtu, which is a cognate of the Hebrew word נפש. It means "throat."

Consider in Tehillim 124 whether soul or neck might be the better translation.

ד  אֲזַי, הַמַּיִם שְׁטָפוּנוּ--    נַחְלָה, עָבַר עַל-נַפְשֵׁנוּ.4 Then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul;
ה  אֲזַי, עָבַר עַל-נַפְשֵׁנוּ--    הַמַּיִם, הַזֵּידוֹנִים.5 Then the proud waters had gone over our soul.'

With that in mind, when the pasuk says in Vayikra 16 (in Akkadian):

כט  וְהָיְתָה לָכֶם, לְחֻקַּת עוֹלָם:  בַּחֹדֶשׁ הַשְּׁבִיעִי בֶּעָשׂוֹר לַחֹדֶשׁ תְּעַנּוּ אֶת-נַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶם, וְכָל-מְלָאכָה לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ--הָאֶזְרָח, וְהַגֵּר הַגָּר בְּתוֹכְכֶם.29 And it shall be a statute for ever unto you: in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and shall do no manner of work, the home-born, or the stranger that sojourneth among you.
Consider how one afflicts his throat, if not by fasting.

This could then be a neat answer to the brayta's question on Yoma 74b:
ת"ר (ויקרא טז, כט) תענו את נפשותיכם יכול ישב בחמה או בצנה כדי שיצטער תלמוד לומר (ויקרא טז, כט) וכל מלאכה לא תעשו מה מלאכה שב ואל תעשה אף ענוי נפש שב ואל תעשה
Our Rabbis taught: Ye shall afflict your souls.2 One might assume that one must sit in heat or cold in order to afflict oneself, therefore the text reads: And ye shall do no manner of work;2 just as the [prohibition of] labour [means]: sit and do nothing, so does [the enjoinment of] affliction [signify]: sit and do nothing.3
Or perhaps this alternate derivation is just me being silly. Putting aside any of the derashot in the gemara, or any peshat attempts to deduce this, perhaps this all comes down to masorah (tradition). Or if not "tradition", an innate understanding of the nuances and idioms of the Hebrew language, such as is available to ancient native Hebrew speakers, such that they would understand what was intended (and were expected to understand this phrase, which would otherwise be too ambiguous). And we can see it used in that way elsewhere in Biblical Hebrew, and cite pesukim to that effect.

Aharon ben Yosef the Karaite agrees that it means fasting as well, with nefesh as part of this idea of fasting, as well as bringing in the concept of hachnaah. Thus:


yaak said...

See also Metzudat David on Tehilim 69:2.

AryehS said...

This was also suggested here


See also http://books.google.com/books?id=a2cxwhJd8jAC&pg=PA71&lpg=PA71&dq=leviticus+16:29+throat&source=bl&ots=uIvTY3V5Wu&sig=uegFBa2E9Q09hRPxbIj-nb3whSI&hl=en&sa=X&ei=dlDfUs2gGsbhsAS6p4HgDg&ved=0CFAQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=leviticus%2016%3A29%20throat&f=false

joshwaxman said...

Thanks, both of you. Baruch shekivanti. And it's a good way of getting the same meaning, or both meanings, in the water pasuk.

Re the essay, it seems they get this related wrong though: "In the early rabbinic period, the Mishna [10] specified that on Yom Kippur "self-denial" covered not only eating and drinking, but also bathing, anointing, wearing sandals, and sexual intercourse. The Talmud argued (Yoma 74b) that "affliction" simply meant "abstention," and not torture. Based on Deut. 8:3, [11] it added that this was to be done primarily through hunger."

Not primarily, but rather that is the only biblical thing, with the other abstentions as rabbinic.

Isaacson said...

I was taught that nefesh in these cases refers to the nose, as in the place where God blew the soul in. I don't see how fasting afflicts the throat, the stomach would be more likely.


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