Thursday, January 01, 2004

Vayigash #3: The trup of the first pasuk

(slightly reworked from last year, pre-blog)
From the Gra:
וַיִּגַּשׁ אֵלָיו יְהוּדָה, וַיֹּאמֶר בִּי אֲדֹנִי has the trup:

Kadmah VeAzlah Revii Zarkah Munach Segol

which, when translated roughly, means
Kadmah {got up}
VeAzlah {and went forth}
Revii {the fourth [son = Judah]}
Zarkah {who threw away}
Munach {rest}
Segol {eternal}.

I say roughly since, even at first glance, Kadmah, Azlah, and Zarkah are noun forms, not verbs. I know this since the kametz aleph ָא at the end of these three words is the definite article in Aramaic = "the."

The meaning of this is that Yehudah, who had put up his stake of eternal rest in the next world as surety for Binyamin's safe return, now went form to confront the vizier of Egypt.

Where did Yehuda promise this? We see in 43:8-9

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוּדָה אֶל-יִשְׂרָאֵל אָבִיו, שִׁלְחָה הַנַּעַר אִתִּי--וְנָקוּמָה וְנֵלֵכָה; וְנִחְיֶה וְלֹא נָמוּת, גַּם-אֲנַחְנוּ גַם-אַתָּה גַּם-טַפֵּנוּ.
אָנֹכִי, אֶעֶרְבֶנּוּ--מִיָּדִי, תְּבַקְשֶׁנּוּ: אִם-לֹא הֲבִיאֹתִיו אֵלֶיךָ וְהִצַּגְתִּיו לְפָנֶיךָ, וְחָטָאתִי לְךָ כָּל-הַיָּמִים.
"I will be surety for him; of my hand shalt thou require him; if I bring him not unto thee, and set him before thee, then let me bear the blame for ever. "

כָּל-הַיָּמִים the Midrash takes to refer to Olam HaBa as well.

We see it again in Vayigash, in 44:32, in Yehuda's speech:
כִּי עַבְדְּךָ עָרַב אֶת-הַנַּעַר, מֵעִם אָבִי לֵאמֹר: אִם-לֹא אֲבִיאֶנּוּ אֵלֶיךָ, וְחָטָאתִי לְאָבִי כָּל-הַיָּמִים
"For thy servant became surety for the lad unto my father, saying: If I bring him not unto thee, then shall I bear the blame to my father for ever."

This is an incredibly clever dvar torah, for what it takes is realizing that the names of the cantillation symbols in this instance accord with and describe the content.

Does this mean in general the trup is telling a secret story, and only here the Vilna Goan exposed for us the story? Absolutely not. It is clever, and a cute correlation, but does not signify anything deeper.

How do I know this? Well, first let us analyze *why* the trup is what it is. First, the segol. A segol is not a magical symbol. There are three forms of zakef: zakef gadol, zakef katon, and segol. (Two dots, two dots with a vertical line, and three dots). When we split a clause which ends with etnachta or silluk (sof pasuk), if the division is one or two words before etnachta or silluk, we use a tipcha; if the division is two words or more before the etnachta or silluk, we use a zakef gadol or zakef katon; if the division is nine words or more before the etnachta or silluk, we use a segol.

This is what happened in our pasuk. The division is marked by a segol because it is exactly nine words before the etnachta. The Zarka always precedes the Segol. And the rest of the trup also follows mechanically.

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