Monday, February 14, 2005

belated Teruma #2: The Extra Vav That Wasn't

In the beginning of parshat Teruma, we read: (Shemot 25:22)

כב וְנוֹעַדְתִּי לְךָ, שָׁם, וְדִבַּרְתִּי אִתְּךָ מֵעַל הַכַּפֹּרֶת מִבֵּין שְׁנֵי הַכְּרֻבִים, אֲשֶׁר עַל-אֲרוֹן הָעֵדֻת--אֵת כָּל-אֲשֶׁר אֲצַוֶּה אוֹתְךָ, אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. {פ 22 And there I will meet with thee, and I will speak with thee from above the ark-cover, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel. {P}
Rashi has a curious comment on this pasuk:
וְאֵת כָּל-אֲשֶׁר אֲצַוֶּה אוֹתְךָ
הרי וי"ו זו יתירה וטפילה
וכמוהו הרבה במקרא
וכה תפתר
ואת אשר אדבר עמך שם את כל אשר אצוה אותך אל בני ישראך
[and] all that I command you"
This vav is extra and superfluous
And many exist like it in Scriptures
And here we explain it:
And all that I speak to you there all that I command you to the Bnei Yisrael.
{Rashi thus makes it a continuation of the earlier part of the verse.}

It is a curious comment because the vav that is bothering Rashi does not exist. He cites the pasuk with a vav in ואת, and says the vav is extra, but if we look in our Chumash, there is no vav. In fact, if we look in our Sifrei Torah, there is no vav.

Siftei Chachamim, a supercommentary on Rashi, explains:
א"עפ שאין כתיב ואת בוא"ו
בס"ת של רשי היה כתיב בוא"ו
Even though it is not written with a vav
In Rashi's Sefer Torah it was written with a vav
This presents us with the issue of whether the vav was originally there or not. Is Rashi's sefer torah the correct one, or is ours?

If you say Rashi's text was correct, does this violate the 8th principle of the Rambam that the Torah we have in our hands is that given to Moshe? Of course, what exactly the Rambam meant by that is not entirely clear. After all, he must know the gemara says that we are not expects in plene and defective spelling which involve extra vavs that do not change the meaning, and this example would fall close to this category.

On the other hand, perhaps there was just an error in Rashi's particular sefer Torah or Chumash that he was using to make his commentary.

It is strange that none of the other meforshim comment on Rashi's comment. Could it be that they had a similar text? {Except of course Ibn Ezra who has the same girsa.}

We do not have the Aleppo Codex on this, because its remains begin at the end of Devorim. However, the Leningrad Codex has our tradition, not that cited by Rashi. It says:

וְנֹועַדְתִּ֣י לְךָ֮ שָׁם֒ וְדִבַּרְתִּ֨י אִתְּךָ֜ מֵעַ֣ל הַכַּפֹּ֗רֶת מִבֵּין֙ שְׁנֵ֣י הַכְּרֻבִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל־אֲרֹ֣ן הָעֵדֻ֑ת אֵ֣ת כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֧ר אֲצַוֶּ֛ה אֹותְךָ֖ אֶל־בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

Looking to the Targums, we see no trace of this extra vav. Onkelos and Tg Yonatan both translate ית, which is a literal translation of את, not ואת.

On the other hand, this is not the best proof since after all a targum's job is to translate the meaning, which occasionally means not adhering slavishly to an exact correspondence with the original text. If, as Rashi says, the vav is extraneous and does not add meaning, would we expect a targum to translate it? If only we knew other examples of what Rashi considered extra vavs and see what the targumim did there!

Ibn Ezra writes:
וטעם וא"ו ואת כל אשר אצוה
ככה הוא
And the reason of the vav of
ואת כל אשר אצוה
is such
The Avi Ezer, a supercommentary on Ibn Ezra, writes:
ומה שכתב הרב וי"ו ואת כך אשר אצוה וכו'. וכן נמצא ברש"י
ותימא שלא נמצא כן לפנינו בכל ספרי הגולה
ואף בעל אור תורה ושאר מגיהים לא הביאו גירסא זו

note to self how to proceed:

The Metzudos Tziyon, on Yechezkel 48:32

Also, Rashi when lists vav yeseira - compare the targumim on these pesukim
Beresihit 3624
Rashi there also refers to Daniel 8 and Tehillim 76
Shemot 25:12
Vayikra 7:16
Rashi There refers to
Beresihit 3624 and Daniel 8:13
Yechezkel 23:42
Eicha 3:26
Kohelet 5:16
Daniel 8:13, and see what he says there about even being common language as well.
Nechemia 4:10

Also, see Rashbam on Bereishit 36:24

Rashi also talks about aleph, heh, lamed, nun, resh, extra. But will only focus on vavs.

occassionally extra vav at end of word: (limayno)
Tehillim 114:8, and Rashi refers to earlier pasuk in perek 104

to be continued...


Anonymous said...

The dibur hamaschil of Rashi in the chumashim I looked at had lechem HApanim at the end of the parsha teaching about the shulchan, whereas the text we have says just panim.

joshwaxman said...

of course, this is an easy insertion for the printers to put in, especially since lechem HApanim is the more common word and thus less likely of the two options to be original under the principle of lectio difficilior. and my mikraot gedolot has no HA, nor does the mosad haRav Kook edition.

what is unique about the vav is that it is explicitly discussed by two commentaries, Ibn Ezra and Rashi, and thus cannot be dismissed as a common printer's error.

This is similar to the variants of pesukim sometimes cited in the gemara. In many instances we can ascribe this to either accident when, after all, a sefer Torah was not being written, or to deliberate mangling for religious reasons, so as not to cite a pasuk. However, it is more difficult to do that when the derasha the gemara makes is based on the very detail which varies.

Anonymous said...

IMHO, Dr. Shapiro proves rather persuasively that the sifrei Torah we have today are not at all perfect. He quotes Reb Moshe as ruling that "the kashrut of our Torah scrolls is not so certain," (p.93-94), following a discussion of poskim who feel that if a mistake is found in a scroll in malei and chasar letters, no need to take out a new one. One has to read the chapter in its entirety to appreciate what's really going on. It's fully 30 pages long, 191 footnotes. Besides, the "ikkar" we say at the end of davening does nothing more than approximate a headline. See Rambam in the original. The materials he brings down will shake you up if all you've had is the typical Mother Goose approach to Judaism, which I guess I had until now.


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