Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The three sevirin וְלֹא

A) At the start of parshas Shofetim, we read (Devarim 16:19):

יט  לֹא-תַטֶּה מִשְׁפָּט, לֹא תַכִּיר פָּנִים; וְלֹא-תִקַּח שֹׁחַד--כִּי הַשֹּׁחַד יְעַוֵּר עֵינֵי חֲכָמִים, וִיסַלֵּף דִּבְרֵי צַדִּיקִם.19 Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons; neither shalt thou take a gift; for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous.

Note that there are three instructions:

  • לֹא-תַטֶּה מִשְׁפָּט
  • לֹא תַכִּיר פָּנִים
  • וְלֹא-תִקַּח שֹׁחַד

It is more common, in such a list, for the second item to be introduced by a vav hachibbur, a connecting vav. But it is not an error for it to be missing.

Upon this pasuk, Minchas Shai explains just that:

"לֹא תַכִּיר פָּנִים -- there are three [such instances of לא] which are sevirin [has the meaning of such that we would expect it to be] ולא, as I wrote in parshas Mishpatim, perek 23 [pasuk 13], regarding לֹ֥א יִשָּׁמַ֖ע עַל־פִּֽיךָ."
B) Looking to parshas Mishpatim, we see the following pasuk [Shemos 23:13]:
יג  וּבְכֹל אֲשֶׁר-אָמַרְתִּי אֲלֵיכֶם, תִּשָּׁמֵרוּ; וְשֵׁם אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים לֹא תַזְכִּירוּ, לֹא יִשָּׁמַע עַל-פִּיךָ.13 And in all things that I have said unto you take ye heed; and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.

There, Minchas Shai says the following:

"לֹא יִשָּׁמַע עַל-פִּיךָ -- in the commentary of Ibn Ezra it is written: and this is לֹא יִשָּׁמַע עַל-פִּיךָ etc.. [Note: this is likely a typographical error in Minchas Shai, and he meant to cite Ibn Ezra as saying ולא.] And the Aruch, entry מטר [Note: couldn't find this] that until recent generations to now, they would mess up and read ולא ישמע על פיך, and the soferim taught not to read with a vav, end quote. Furthermore, in the masoret, three one would expect ולא and they are לא, and the mnemonic of לא תשימון עליו נשך, and לא ישמע על פיך, and לא תכיר פנים."

Because there seems to be a typographical error in Minchas Shai in a critical place, I will show the first printing as well.

Interestingly, in the linked Ibn Ezra at Daat, it has a vav:
[כג, יג]
ובכל אשר -
עתה הזכיר עבודת כוכבים, והטעם כל מה שאמרתי הם מצותי ומשפטי. ולא כן. משפטי אלוהים אחרים. 
ואמר: לא תזכירו - שלא תזכירו שמותם להישבע בהם גם שלא ישביעו בהם עובדיה. וזה ולא ישמע על פיך שתשביע בו אחרים. שלא תאמר לעובד כוכבים השבע לי באלהיך.

As well, in the printing in Mechokekei Yehuda
, he has Ibn Ezra's lengthy commentary which cites it as ולא, while in Ibn Ezra's short commentary,  he cites it as simply לא.

At first, I was unsure of Minchas Shai's purpose in citing Ibn Ezra here. (At this point, I assumed that he was citing him saying לא.) To establish the correct girsa of Ibn Ezra's commentary? To bring it as further evidence, from a Rishon, that this is the correct text? Perhaps the key is the word וזה, by which he shows how this phrase of לֹא יִשָּׁמַע עַל-פִּיךָ is a restatement of the immediately preceding idea, of וְשֵׁם אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים לֹא תַזְכִּירוּ. In this manner, we can understand why the connecting vav is not due here.

But in fact, I think there was a typographical error at a critical juncture here -- that Minchas Shai wished to cite a bad girsa in Ibn Ezra, but it was somehow encoded in accordance with the correct girsa.

Christian David Ginsberg also records this as לא with סביר of ולא. But he makes another interesting observation:

He writes: savir ולא, and in some other sefarim [ס"א is defined at the start of his work as "MSS. collated by C. D. G."] it is ולא as a krei and ketiv.

This seems to me like an encoding, in the MSS., of the practice Minchas Shai deemed erroneous.

 Naturally, the Samaritan Pentateuch (as it appears in Vetus Testamentum) adds the vav, in order to make the text smoother:

And in the bottom of that page, in lists many Hebrew Biblical texts that similarly have ולא.

C) The third instance is actually a bit earlier in Mishpatim, namely Shemos 22:24:

כד  אִם-כֶּסֶף תַּלְוֶה אֶת-עַמִּי, אֶת-הֶעָנִי עִמָּךְ--לֹא-תִהְיֶה לוֹ, כְּנֹשֶׁה; לֹא-תְשִׂימוּן עָלָיו, נֶשֶׁךְ.24 If thou lend money to any of My people, even to the poor with thee, thou shalt not be to him as a creditor; neither shall ye lay upon him interest.

Upon which, Minchas Shai says:

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