Monday, December 31, 2007

The Age of Trup -- part ii

Continuing from where we left off last time. Shadal, in his Vikuach al Chochmat haKabbalah, just showed that while Rashi made use of the trup and nikkud as proof, on occasion Rashi will offer an explanation which goes against the nikkud or the trup. He now goes on to show that the same is true for Rashbam:

And so too the Rashbam, the son of his {=Rashi's} daughter, wrote upon the verse מִטֶּרֶף בְּנִי עָלִיתָ {from parshat Vayechi, from Yaakov's blessing, in Bereishit 49:9:
ט גּוּר אַרְיֵה יְהוּדָה, מִטֶּרֶף בְּנִי עָלִיתָ; כָּרַע רָבַץ כְּאַרְיֵה וּכְלָבִיא, מִי יְקִימֶנּוּ. 9 Judah is a lion's whelp; from the prey, my son, thou art gone up. He stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as a lioness; who shall rouse him up?

"and one who explains it as referring to the sale of Yosef does not know the simple explanation of the verse, nor the division of the cantillation marks at all."

{Presumably, Rashbam means here that there is a disjunctive accent, tipcha, breaking off מִטֶּרֶף from בְּנִי עָלִיתָ. Thus, one should not explain it as "you arose miteref beni," where beni refers to Yosef rather than to Yehuda.}

And so too on the verse כֹּל נָשִׂיא בָהֶם
{in Shelach, in Bemidbar 13:2:
ב שְׁלַח-לְךָ אֲנָשִׁים, וְיָתֻרוּ אֶת-אֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן, אֲשֶׁר-אֲנִי נֹתֵן, לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל: אִישׁ אֶחָד אִישׁ אֶחָד לְמַטֵּה אֲבֹתָיו, תִּשְׁלָחוּ--כֹּל, נָשִׂיא בָהֶם. 2 'Send thou men, that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel; of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a prince among them.'

he wrote:
"The cantillation mark which is under כֹּל proves its explanation."
Behold that he relies upon the vowel points.

{To explain, there is a disjunctive accent, tipcha, separating kol from the rest of the phrase. And this is also why it is kol with a cholam chaser rather than a kametz katan. Thus, it means that "all of them" -- the meraglim -- were princes. But it does not mean that each prince became a spy. And this is also why Shadal feels free to mention that Rashbam relies on vowel points, rather than saying "cantillation marks."}

And with all this, he explains וַיַּרְא יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת-מִצְרַיִם מֵת עַל-שְׂפַת הַיָּם

{from parshat Beshalach, from Shemot 14:30:
ל וַיּוֹשַׁע ה בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא, אֶת-יִשְׂרָאֵל-- מִיַּד מִצְרָיִם; וַיַּרְא יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת-מִצְרַיִם, מֵת עַל-שְׂפַת הַיָּם. 30 Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea-shore.
that the Israelites were upon the sea-shore, and from there they saw the Egyptians dead, and this is against the cantillation marks.

{because there is a zakef-katon on the word Mitzrayim, thus making it וַיַּרְא יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת-מִצְרַיִם followed by מֵת עַל-שְׂפַת הַיָּם. Shadal presumably would like that division to be on the word meit.}

And also on what is written

{in parshat Korach, Bemidbar 17:4-5}:
ד וַיִּקַּח אֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן, אֵת מַחְתּוֹת הַנְּחֹשֶׁת, אֲשֶׁר הִקְרִיבוּ, הַשְּׂרֻפִים; וַיְרַקְּעוּם, צִפּוּי לַמִּזְבֵּחַ. 4 And Eleazar the priest took the brazen fire-pans, which they that were burnt had offered; and they beat them out for a covering of the altar,
ה זִכָּרוֹן לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, לְמַעַן אֲשֶׁר לֹא-יִקְרַב אִישׁ זָר אֲשֶׁר לֹא מִזֶּרַע אַהֲרֹן הוּא, לְהַקְטִיר קְטֹרֶת, לִפְנֵי ה; וְלֹא-יִהְיֶה כְקֹרַח וְכַעֲדָתוֹ, כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר ה בְּיַד-מֹשֶׁה לוֹ. {פ} 5 to be a memorial unto the children of Israel, to the end that no common man, that is not of the seed of Aaron, draw near to burn incense before the LORD; that he fare not as Korah, and as his company; as the LORD spoke unto him by the hand of Moses. {P}
he explains וַיִּקַּח אֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן, אֵת מַחְתּוֹת הַנְּחֹשֶׁת כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר ה בְּיַד-מֹשֶׁה לוֹ {thus adjoining the very beginning of pasuk 4 to the very end of pasuk 5, meaning that "as the LORD spoke..." was the LORD speaking to Eleazar}; and according to these words of his, it would have been fitting to place the etnachta {subdividing the verse} under the word וְכַעֲדָתוֹ {so as to make kaasher separate from the rest}, and not under Hashem {in the phrase כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר ה}.

And so too he explains {pictured to the right} וְהָמָם מְהוּמָה גְדֹלָה as if the mem {sofit} were open {and a non-final mem}.

{in parshat Ekev, on Devarim 7:23:
כג וּנְתָנָם ה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, לְפָנֶיךָ; וְהָמָם מְהוּמָה גְדֹלָה, עַד הִשָּׁמְדָם. 23 But the LORD thy God shall deliver them up before thee, and shall discomfit them with a great discomfiture, until they be destroyed.
Shadal in his own peirush writes: כג ] והמם : כפירש " י והם אותם , משורש הום כמו מהומה

And so too he explains אֲרַמִּי אֹבֵד אָבִי
{in parshat Ki Tavo, in the vidui of bikkurim, in Devarim 26:

ה וְעָנִיתָ וְאָמַרְתָּ לִפְנֵי ה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, אֲרַמִּי אֹבֵד אָבִי, וַיֵּרֶד מִצְרַיְמָה, וַיָּגָר שָׁם בִּמְתֵי מְעָט; וַיְהִי-שָׁם, לְגוֹי גָּדוֹל עָצוּם וָרָב. 5 And thou shalt speak and say before the LORD thy God: 'A wandering Aramean was my father, and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there, few in number; and he became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous.

as אֹבֵד as an adjective modifying אֲרַמִּי, and many like this against the cantillation marks.

{In this particular case, because there is a pashta on arami, separating it from oved avi.}

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Is Acne The Same As Tzaraas?

Of course not.

Which is why I find the Natural and Spiritual Remedy for Acne, over at LazerBeams, somewhat amusing. It is a mix of natural remedies and spirituality, which often go together.

In this particular case, of ten points, point 1 and point 10 are the spiritual advice, thus bracketing the natural / alternative remedies and giving it a spiritual / mystical feed. I don't know about the efficacy of the natural suggestions, since I have not invested any time looking into it -- but note there is a dispute whether diet really has any impact on acne (see here and here). But point 10 is to daven, but at the same time don't turn this direction towards God into a complaint, for what Hashem does is for the best. Point 1, meanwhile, is:
First of all, be very careful not to say a bad word about anyone - no matter what - even about those that hurt you, G-d forbid.
Besides the fact that he should qualify "no matter what" (he does not mean, presumably, that an abused woman should not report her abuser, or that a teenager -- likely to be one suffering from acne -- should not report abuse). But where does this bit of advice come from? Aside from the fact that avoidance of lashon hara has become segulah for everything under the sun.

Well, we do not know exactly what the Torah, and Chazal, meant when referring to tzaraat. If it means leprosy, it is still around, but treatable. But presumably, since it is a malady affecting the skin, he made the tzaraas - acne connection, and so came up with this advice for a post on acne.

I don't know of sources, modern or old, that make this connection, though it would be interesting to see any that do...

"2 Israeli Settlers and 2 Palestinians Killed In Drive-By Shooting During Hiking Trip"

That's how the New York Times decided to headline an article about a drive-by shooting in which two Israelis were killed by terrorists. I find this a disgusting attempt at "balance." The impression one gets from the headline (and often that is all people read) is that there was a drive-by shooting, and the people both Israelis and Palestinians were shot at from the car. Whereas in reality, the Palestinians involved were the perpetrators. Note they also identify the Israeli hikers as "settlers," with all of the associations it carries, in order to even things out even more.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

A Possible Namesake for Harry Potter?

OK, this is not typical parshablog fare, but I figure I might as well. For various reasons, I was rereading James and the Giant Peach, and I noticed the opening line -- not pictured to the right, but close enough. James Henry Trotter is the name of the protagonist in James and the Giant Peach, and Roald Dahl offs his parents (in the second or third paragraph) and he lives an unhappy early childhood with his aunts. There are slight similarities in this setup to that of Harry Potter, but this is of course what many stories do, to separate the child hero from his parents (e.g. in so many Disney movies). But Harry is a nickname for Henry, such that he might be called James Harry Trotter. And of course, James Potter is the father of Harry Potter.

I mentioned that the opening line was not pictured to the right. That is because there is a different girsa of the opening lines in the Amazon book (pictured above) than in the book I was looking at.

My book begins:
Here is James Henry Trotter when he was when he was about four years old.
Up until this time, he had had a happy life, living with his mother and father in a beautiful home beside the sea.
In contrast, the excerpt above read:
Until he was fours years old, James Henry Trotter had a happy life. He lived peacefully with his mother and father in a beautiful house beside the sea.
Thus, they strip out the first sentence (/paragraph) and picture, and incorporate elements of it into the second sentence. And divide that sentence in two.

They do a similar thing at the beginning of chapter 2. My book reads:
Here is James Henry Trotter after he had been living with his aunts for three whole years -- which is when the story really begins.
For now, there came a morning when something rather peculiar happened to him.
In contrast, the new editions omits this image, and reworks the first two sentences as:
After James Henry Trotter had been living with his aunts for three whole years, something rather peculiar happened to him.
The reason for this appears, I think, on the front cover, and on the copyright page, where we see there is a different illustrator. My book was illustrated by Nancy Ekholm Burkert, while the new book (above) is illustrated by Quentin Blake. And his copyright for the illustrations are from 1995, or 5 years after Roald Dahl's death. The new illustrator did not make all the same illustrations, and they reworked the text to avoid references to images. Or vice versa.

There is a slight change in tone between one and the other, and I wonder if Dahl would have approved of this emendantion.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Shemot: Vikuach Al Chochmat HaKabbalah: The Age of Trup

The following is from Shadal (Shmuel David Luzzatto)'s Vikuach Al Chochmat haKabbalah, in which he has an imaginary conversation with a guest. Shadal defends kabbalah while the stranger attacks it. Of course, Shadal is writing both sides of the conversation, and the "guest" eventually convinces him with several persuasive arguments. This is from the beginning of the chapter "Third Night."

Here, the guest brings up the question of how old the tradition of, and orthography of trup is. And this has repercussions in terms of whether he, as a parshan, can argue with trup or nikkud if he sees fit. And he claims that not only does he do it, but other classic meforshim due as well, including Rashi, Rashbam, Ibn Ezra, and so on. In addressing Rashi he mentions a pasuk brought up recently on parshablog, on parshat Shemot in terms of whether amata means the arm or the maidservant of Phraoh's daughter. (I like translating it as handmaiden. :-] ) The nikkud, says Rashi, absolutely casts out the possibility of "arm" on the level of peshat. But then, we may point out, if one can argue with nikkud, then a slight change will yield a fine peshat. (And as I suggested before, this might be part of the impetus for the dispute in this regard, by the Tannaim and Amoraim.) The citation starts here:

And it was, on the night of Simchat Torah after prayers, and we returned to the house together, and we ate and were satisfied, that the man opened up his mouth and said to me:

"Behold, I am about to do what is good and upright in your eyes, my dear master. And behold I will lift up my words to a matter from the matters of peshat, and this is a matter which touches you, and its knowledge and investigation affects you, as well as all who love the wisdom of the holy tongue."

The author: Say your words, and may your words be to me for rejoicing and for the joy of my heart. What is the matter of investigation which you place before me?

The guest: Is it not the investigation of the time of origin of the vowel points and the cantillation marks.

The author: You have judged well that this investigation is necessary to a man such as me. For behold, many times it happened to me that I explained some text with an explanation which did not agree with its vowel points or with its cantillation marks. And {even so}, when I saw that the explanation worked well with the language of the Scriptures, I did not turn back from writing it in a sefer, even though it was opposed to the cantillation marks. And even with all this, when I saw that my explanation accorded with the cantillation marks, I did not hold back from drawing support from them and from bringing proof from them. And I did this because this I have seen, that all the commentators who came before me.

For example, Rashi z"l, upon the pasuk {Shemot 2:5}
ה וַתֵּרֶד בַּת-פַּרְעֹה לִרְחֹץ עַל-הַיְאֹר, וְנַעֲרֹתֶיהָ הֹלְכֹת עַל-יַד הַיְאֹר; וַתֵּרֶא אֶת-הַתֵּבָה בְּתוֹךְ הַסּוּף, וַתִּשְׁלַח אֶת-אֲמָתָהּ וַתִּקָּחֶהָ. 5 And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe in the river; and her maidens walked along by the river-side; and she saw the ark among the flags, and sent her handmaid to fetch it.
rejects the midrash of our Sages because of the vowel points.

{Rashi writes:
her maidservant Heb. אֲמָתָהּ, her maidservant. Our Sages (Sotah 12b), however, interpreted it as an expression meaning a hand. [The joint from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger is known as אַמָּה, hence the cubit measure bearing the name, אַמָּה, which is the length of the arm from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger.] Following [the rules of] Hebrew grammar, however, it should have been vowelized אַמָּתָהּ, with a dagesh in the mem. They, however, interpreted אֶתאֲמָתָהּ to mean her hand, [that she stretched out her hand,] and her arm grew many cubits (אַמוֹת) [so that she could reach the basket]. [From Sotah 12b, Exod. Rabbah 1:23]

And also at the start of Yechezkel, he wrote:
"had I not seen the cantillation mark zakef gadol punctuating upon ufeneihem, I would not know how to explain it."

{The pasuk is Yechezkel 1:11:
יא וּפְנֵיהֶם, וְכַנְפֵיהֶם פְּרֻדוֹת מִלְמָעְלָה: לְאִישׁ, שְׁתַּיִם חֹבְרוֹת אִישׁ, וּשְׁתַּיִם מְכַסּוֹת, אֵת גְּוִיֹּתֵיהֶנָה. 11 Thus were their faces; and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies.
and there, Rashi states:
And so were their faces, and their wings were extended upward Had I not seen the cantillation sign of a “zakef gadol” [indicating a pause] punctuating “And so were their faces,” I would not know how to explain it, but the punctuation taught me to separate them [the words of the verse] one from the other and to place the word וּפְנֵיהֶם by itself. And so, [this] is its explanation: And they had faces and their wings were extended above their faces and covered them. How so? “Each had two wings joined to each other” to each face, their two wings were joined. On each one, the wing of this living being was stretched out towards the side of that living being, and this one’s towards the side of this one, and the face that was in between was covered by them. [A verse whose wording] is similar to the language of this verse appears again in this chapter (verse 18): “And they had backs, and they were very high and they were dreadful.” The word וְגֲבֵּיהֶן, “and they had backs,” stands by itself.

And also on the verse {Devarim 11:30}
ל הֲלֹא-הֵמָּה בְּעֵבֶר הַיַּרְדֵּן, אַחֲרֵי דֶּרֶךְ מְבוֹא הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ, בְּאֶרֶץ הַכְּנַעֲנִי, הַיֹּשֵׁב בָּעֲרָבָה--מוּל, הַגִּלְגָּל, אֵצֶל, אֵלוֹנֵי מֹרֶה. 30 Are they not beyond the Jordan, behind the way of the going down of the sun, in the land of the Canaanites that dwell in the Arabah, over against Gilgal, beside the terebinths of Moreh?
he brings a proof from the cantillation marks -- even though in truth is a proof which proves the opposite, to one who understands the depth of the teaching of the parsing provided by the cantillation marks -- even so, beholds his words prove that he relied upon the vowel points and the cantillation marks.
Rashi writes:
[on the other side of the Jordan, way beyond,] in the direction of the sunset [i.e.,] beyond the Jordan, toward the west. And the cantillation marks of the verse prove that [אַחֲרֵי and דרך] refer to two separate things, for they are marked with two [conjunctive] accents [thus demonstrating that these words are not connected]: אַחֲרֵי is punctuated with a pashta [which separates the word from the succeeding one], and דרך is punctuated with a mashpel [which we call a yetib]. In addition, [the דּ of the word דרך has a dagesh inside it [which indicates that the word דרך begins a new phrase or topic]. If, however, אַחֲרֵי דֶּרך were one phrase [meaning“beyond the direction”], then אַחֲרֵי would have been punctuated by a conjunctive accent, namely a shofar hafuch [which we call a mahpach] and דרך by a pashta [the combination of which indicates the connection between those words. Additionally, the ד of the word דרך ] would not have a dagesh inside it. [But this is not so, and thus אַחֲרֵי and דרך are separate words in this verse.]
{A slight disagreement with Judaica Press's translation here. They write "for they are marked with two [conjunctive] accents" but this should be "[disjunctive]."

If you want to know why Shadal disagrees with Rashi on this pasuk, see his perush al haTorah, here:
ל ] אחרי דרך מבוא השמש : שתלכו אחרי דרך מערב ותמצאום ( ראב " ע ), ומילת אחרי היא סמוכה , אבל אינה סמוכה למילת דרך לבדה . אבל היא סמוכה לשלוש תיבות : דרך מבוא השמש , לפיכך מילת מבוא שהיא סמוכה למילה אחת היא בטעם מ שרת כמו ( ויקרא כ " ח ח ') שבתות השנים , ומילת דרך שאינה סמוכה למילת מבוא , אלא לשתי תבות מבוא השמש , הוצרכה להיות בטעם מפסיק ( יתיב ) , כמו שבע שתות השנים , ומילת אחרי שאינה סמוכה למילת דרך לבדה . אלא לשלוש תיבות : דרך מבוא השמש , הוצרכה למפסיק יותר , והוא פשטא ( כידוע כי שני מפסיקין רצופים , הראשון מפסיק יותר , וידוע כי היחיד כוחו ככוח הפשטא ), כמו ימי שבע שבתות השנים . ורש " י נכשל בהבנת כוחם של טעמי המקרא הזה , כי משפטי הטעמים לא היו ידועים יפה בימיו , ויש לתמוה על הרמבמ " ן שהיה מבין בפסוקי הטעמים , ואעפ " כ תירגם כפירש " י , ואחריו המבאר העתיק דברי רש " י ככתבם ולא העיר עליהם דבר , וכבר פירשתי הענין הזה ב " בכורי העתים " תקפ " ט עמוד צ " ו . מול הגלגל : איננו המקום שנקרא כן בימי יהושע , כי הוא היה סמוך לירדן וסמוך ליריחו , ושם נימולו בתחילת כניסתם לארץ ( יהושע ה '), אבל גלגל זה הוא סמוך לעיר שכם ורחוק הרבה מיריחו . ורש " י פירש מול הגלגל , רחוק מן הגלגל , אך אין זה במשמעות מילת מול

And with all this, we find to him that he wrote upon {Shemot 25:34}:
לד וּבַמְּנֹרָה, אַרְבָּעָה גְבִעִים: מְשֻׁקָּדִים--כַּפְתֹּרֶיהָ, וּפְרָחֶיהָ. 34 And in the candlestick four cups made like almond-blossoms, the knops thereof, and the flowers thereof.
a, "this is one of 5 verses which are unresolvably ambiguous," {see my post on Issi Ben Yehuda's 5 Ambiguous Pesukim}, and he should have added, "however, according to the cantillation marks there is a resolution to the ambiguity," as the students of the Sages of Tosafot said (Yoma 52);

{Rashi writes:
decorated…its knobs and its flowers This is one of the five verses whose meaning cannot be determined. It is unknown whether [to read] “decorated goblets” or “decorated its knobs and its flowers."-[from Yoma 52b]

and so too he reads it

{Yeshaya 1:9:
ט לוּלֵי ה צְבָאוֹת, הוֹתִיר לָנוּ שָׂרִיד כִּמְעָט--כִּסְדֹם הָיִינוּ, לַעֲמֹרָה דָּמִינוּ. {פ} 9 Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, we should have been like unto Gomorrah. {P}

as "we were almost {kim'at} like Sodom," and not "Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small {kim'at} remnant" in the way of the cantillation marks;

{Rashi there writes:
Had not the Lord of Hosts left us a remnant by His own volition and with His mercy, not because of our merits.
we would soon {kim'at} be like Sodom All of us would be destroyed.
and this is against the trup since there is an esnachta on the word kimat.

and so too he explains {Yirmiyahu 6:29}:
כט נָחַר מַפֻּחַ, מאשתם (מֵאֵשׁ תַּם) עֹפָרֶת--לַשָּׁוְא צָרַף צָרוֹף, וְרָעִים לֹא נִתָּקוּ. 29 The bellows blow fiercely, the lead is consumed of the fire; in vain doth the founder refine, for the wicked are not separated.
that the bellows is heated from the power of the fire, and this is against the cantillation marks.

{Rashi writes:
The bellows is heated This is an allegory. When they refine silver, they blow with a bellows, and they always put lead into the crucible, which helps for the refining. But youI have come to refine you. The bellows is heated and parched because of the fire, and the lead is completely consumed. נחר is an expression related to (Job 42:7) “My wrath has been kindled (חרה) ” ; (ibid. 30: 30) “And my bones are burned (חרה) with heat,” (esrast in O.F.).
That is, we can either parse it as:
1) נָחַר מַפֻּחַ מֵאֵשׁ followed by תַּם עֹפָרֶת, as Rashi does, or else we can parse it as
2) נָחַר מַפֻּחַ followed by מֵאֵשׁ תַּם עֹפָרֶת.

and there is a zakef katon on the word esh with an etnachta on the word ofaret, showing that the phrase boundary according to the trup is like (2).

Note also that מֵאֵשׁ תַּם is written in the krei as one word, further supporting a reading like (2) in which they are in the same phrase.

And also on II Shmuel 12:30:
ל וַיִּקַּח אֶת-עֲטֶרֶת-מַלְכָּם מֵעַל רֹאשׁוֹ וּמִשְׁקָלָהּ כִּכַּר זָהָב, וְאֶבֶן יְקָרָה, וַתְּהִי, עַל-רֹאשׁ דָּוִד; וּשְׁלַל הָעִיר הוֹצִיא, הַרְבֵּה מְאֹד. 30 And he took the crown of Malcam from off his head; and the weight thereof was a talent of gold, and in it were precious stones; and it was set on David's head. And he brought forth the spoil of the city, exceeding much.
{with the word malkam, not like the JPS translation above, but with the implication of "the crown of their king."}

he writes that the idol of the sons of Ammon was named Milkom, and behold he pushes off the vowel points because of the derash (from Avodah Zara 42).

{Rashi writes:
and the crown of Malkam the name of the abomination of the sons of Ammon was Malkam from [the name] Molech.
I would note that this might tie in to how Rashi regards derash vs. peshat. And furthermore, even with the vocalization Malkam, there is a certain echoing which is surely intended besides the pashut peshat meaning king.

At any rate, this is the end of examples coming from Rashi, where despite citing nikkud and trup as evidence, he is willing to violate the nikkud and trup.

Shemot: Who Made "Houses" For Whom, And Why?

The pasuk states vayaas lahem batim. But who made houses? And for whom? And what is meant by "houses?" And why do this?

The pesukim read:
יט וַתֹּאמַרְןָ הַמְיַלְּדֹת אֶל-פַּרְעֹה, כִּי לֹא כַנָּשִׁים הַמִּצְרִיֹּת הָעִבְרִיֹּת: כִּי-חָיוֹת הֵנָּה, בְּטֶרֶם תָּבוֹא אֲלֵהֶן הַמְיַלֶּדֶת וְיָלָדוּ. 19 And the midwives said unto Pharaoh: 'Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwife come unto them.'
כ וַיֵּיטֶב אֱלֹהִים, לַמְיַלְּדֹת; וַיִּרֶב הָעָם וַיַּעַצְמוּ, מְאֹד. 20 And God dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty.
כא וַיְהִי, כִּי-יָרְאוּ הַמְיַלְּדֹת אֶת-הָאֱלֹהִים; וַיַּעַשׂ לָהֶם, בָּתִּים. 21 And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that He made them houses.
כב וַיְצַו פַּרְעֹה, לְכָל-עַמּוֹ לֵאמֹר: כָּל-הַבֵּן הַיִּלּוֹד, הַיְאֹרָה תַּשְׁלִיכֻהוּ, וְכָל-הַבַּת, תְּחַיּוּן. {פ} 22 And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying: 'Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.' {P}

This phrase, vayaas lahem batim, is extremely ambiguous, and so of course many meforshim offer different explanations. Shadal has a nice rundown of many of them:

ויעש להם בתים : רש"י על פי רז"ל (סוטה י"א ע"ב) פירש כי ה' עשה למילדות בתי כהונה ולויה ומלכות, וכן ראב"ע אמר שהוא גמול מאת ה' אל המילדות, וכן דעת אתרים, שבשכר שחיו המילדות את בני ישראל הרבה להן ה' משפחות וצאצאים ע"ד וגבנו בתוך עמי ( ירמיה י"ב ט"ז ), אלהים מושיב יחידים ביתה ( תהלים ס"ח ז' ) ; וגזניוס פירש בתים לשון הון ועושר, כמו בחכמה יבנה בית ( משלי כ"ד ג' ), וכן גוסיציוס אומר כי הוראת ההצלחה נכללת עם ריבוי הזרע, כטעם גם נבנו עושה רשעה ( מלאכי ג' ט"ו ) ; ורשב"ם ור"י עראמה והכורם פירשו שעשה פרעה בתים למילדות לשמרן, שלא תלכנה אל העבריות היולדות ; וזה רחוק ממשמעות הלשון והעיקר חסר, כמו שהעיר רמבמ"ן ; ור' משה חפץ (מלאכת מהשבת) פירש שאחר שנודעה צדקת המילדות נתרבו להן הבתים הקוראים אותן ; ורמבמ"ן פירש הפסוק מחובר לשאחריו, ויהי כי יראו המילדות את האלהים וכי עשה האל להם (לישראל) בתים ומשפחות רבות אז ויצו פרעה לכל עמו כל הבן הילוד וגו', ועדיין מליצת ויעש להם בתים קשה ובלחי נהוגה להורות על ריבוי הזרע, כי מה תוסיף המליצה הזאת, וכבר ידענו שהיו בישראל משפחות הרבה ; ואאז"ל אמר כי ישראל רצו לשלם גמול למילדות, ולהיותם מלומדים בחמר ובלבנים, בנו להם בתים ; וגם לפירושו יקשה שהיל"ל "ויבן", ולשון ויעש הוא דוגמת כי בית יעשה לך ה' ( ש"ב ז' י"א ), והוא נראה סיוע לפירוש רז"ל ; ונראה לי שהיה מנהג כי רק הנשים, שלא היו להן בנים ולא היה להן טיפול בביתן, היו מילדות, וה' בירך את המילדות האלה ונתן להן בנים ופרו ורבו והעמידו בתים. להם : במקום להן, כמו למטה ב' י"ז את צאנם
To summarize:
1) Rashi, with Chazal: houses of Kohen, Levi, Kingship. (This midrash operating under the equating of Yocheved and Miriam with Shifra and Puah.)
2) Ibn Ezra: Hashem granted the midwives families and many descendants.
3) Gesenius (/Gezenius): Hashem granted them wealth.
4) Gositsius {??}: Success manifest with many children.
5) Rashbam and others: Pharaoh made houses for the midwives, to watch them, such that they would not go to the Israelite women giving birth.
But this does not work out well with the language, and the main element is missing, as Ramban objects.
6) Rav Moshe Chefetz: The houses which summoned them increased, since their righteous became known.
7) Ramban: Changes the association of the phrase, to join with next verse. Thus, it was when the midwives feared God and Hashem gave to them (meaning the Israelites) houses and families, Pharaoh had this reaction of instructing the Egyptian nation, in the next verse. Thus, this is not a consequence/reward to the midwives but a state of affairs.
Shadal objects that we already know that there were many Israelites.
8) Shadal's father: The Israelites built houses for the midwives, as thanks for doing this, since as we see they are working at building.
But Shadal argues that it should have said vayiven rather than vayaas.
9) Shadal cites a parallel of vayaas to II Shmuel, as an act of God, such that it supports Chazal. He suggests that only women without children acted as midwives, and now Hashem rewarded them by granting them children.

One final note. Others give other suggestions. The following from Aharon ben Yosef the Karaite:

Thus, the answer that this was middah keneged middah reward from Hashem for their actions; or "making them houses" means that Hashem protected them from Pharaoh's retribution; and one suggestion that he rejects, that it links to the next verse, of Pharaoh's command (but different than Rambam) -- that Pharaoh made for them, the Egyptians, houses, which were adjacent to those of the Israelites, such that (perhaps unlike the midwives), the Egyptians would know when the Israelite women were giving birth, so as to take action.

One final suggestion, from me, but I am not so sure how good it is. The question is what haElohim means in the verse which states that they feared haElohim. Is this the same as Elokim in the previous verse? Perhaps not, and perhaps while the first refers to Hashem, the second refers to some Egyptian deity or deities. This hooks in to the question of whether these are midwives for the Israelites or midwives who are Israelites. If deities are intended by haElohim, then perhaps what is meant are temples that they made. (Would need to work out the grammar, but it is possibly workable.) That is, there is a frog-goddess Heqet, and according to Wikipedia:
Later, as a fertility goddess, associated explicitly with the last stages of the flooding of the Nile, and so with the germination of corn, she became associated with the final stages of childbirth. This association, which appears to have arisen during the Middle Kingdom, gained her the title She who hastens the birth. Some claim that—even though no ancient Egyptian term for "midwife" is known for certain—midwives often called themselves the Servants of Heqet, and that her priestesses were trained in midwifery.
I do not know how solid this Wikipedia-based data is.

Also note, for next parsha, I intend to present a Heqet-based explanation of the plague of frogs.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Designating Nikkud and Trup Via Tagim

Continuing an idea from the last post, about how inter-pasuk gaps are forbidden by Masechet Soferim but implemented lechatchila by the Rema, and how these gaps were used to designate something that it not obvious without punctuation:

For a while now I've had an idea, but am not entirely sure it passed halachic muster. I think it does, but have not done enough research (such as learning through the relevant gemaras, Yerushalmis, masechet Soferim, as well Rishonim and Acharonim) to make such a determination.

My idea is to use elongations of letters (which is permitted, and is used at times to justify rather than right-align sifrei Torah) as well as the crowns (tagin) upon certain letters to encode extra information. One can vary height of tagin, as well as their lean (left, upright, right). This can be used to encode trup or nikkud, such that a baal koreh on the lookout for this can know where there is an esnachta, or a silluk, or where it is es instead of eis. It is just a matter of combining these features into a system, implementing it, and remembering it.

Indeed, the conspiracy theorist in me suspects, with little proof, that this was the original intent of the tagin. The facts of the matter are that (a) our tagin are smoothed out in terms of varieties, but there were all sorts of traditions about the tagin on various words, which is no longer implemented; and (b) Rabbi Akiva darshened these crowns.

My suspicion is that these crowns initially did in fact encode some information, perhaps vowels, perhaps parse structure for the pesukim. And according to midrash, Moshe put them on but did not know what they meant. Perhaps Rabbi Akiva analyzed the tagin, and found and developed a system, which revealed the meaning conveyed by the crowns. And while our orthography of trup perhaps did not exist in Talmudic times, perhaps these were somewhat akin.


Vayechi: My Own Thoughts On The Gap Issue

Note: Not intended halacha lemaaseh, really. Especially since I have only just grazed the surface. Still, I think I have some interesting insights.

I thought I would share my thoughts at this point, now that we have finished with the teshuva of the Minchas Eluzer. As he notes, there is upon what to rely in order to permit a brief gap, where one is compelled to do so -- such as not invalidating old sifrei Torah written by holy people of previous generations, or where one would have to be gonez -- hide away -- a parchment sheet, because it cannot be reworked, e.g. due to proximity to Divine Names. Yet in the general case, one should not do this lechatchila, and should rework existing problematic texts.

Personally, I agree that this is, in overwhelming likelihood, an error based on misinterpreting the Masoretic directive to leave only a gap of one letter, which was interpreted to mean a gap of one letter besides the inter-word gap of a letter. (And even intuited that there must have been such a masoretic note, based on the one-letter, two-letter gap variants.)

Still, I am not sure I agree with his conclusions of invalidating and prohibiting in all the cases in which he does so. This illustrates the issue of heeding opinions you think are wrong, out of respect from the one propounding it (Bet Yosef). And also illustrates what happens when you try to satisfy a group of competing opinions simultaneously. You end up with the union of all the rules, and thus the intersection of all possible acceptable opinions, with a highly restrictive end result. This is not only so by writing sifrei Torah, but in every other realm of halacha as well.

We should set out, first and foremost, that there is a difference between Talmudic and post-Talmudic requirements for writing sifrei Torah. And Masechet Soferim is post-Talmudic, from the Savoraim. That is why, while generally it is accepted that Bavli trumps Yerushalmi, Rosh states that in dispute between Yerushalmi and Masechet Soferim we rule like the Yerushalmi.

And Rambam, as we saw, restricts post-Talmudic restrictions similarly. As the Michnas Eluzer summarized:
according to the opinion of the Rambam, that he requires 9 letters {gap} also by setuma, that the Rambam writes there himself that there are things which are not stated in the Talmud, but was received via the hands of the scribes, one man from the mouth of the previous man, and such as the space of 9 letters -- that all of these matters are for fulfilling the precept at its best {mitzvah min hamuvchar}, and if he changed, he did not invalidate.
That is, petucha and setuma are mentioned in Bavli (see Shabbat 103b) and Yerushalmi (see Megillah 11b), but the particular definition of length of the gap of a setuma as 9 letters is post-Talmudic -- not stated in the Talmud -- and are not meakev, though it is an issue of min hamuvchar.

As Minchas Eluzer quotes the Bet Yosef, this statement is restricted somewhat:
that where is does not invalidate, this is specifically where he did not leave a gap of less than 3 times "asher" {??}, but wherever there is not a gap of 9 letters, even of small letters, then it is invalid as well.
Thus, that there is some minimum level of gap for setuma. But Rambam does not actually state this, and Bet Yosef often, in other places as well, "reinterprets" the Rambam against its plain meaning to accord with the halachic conclusions of others (within the trio). It is possible to read that there is some basic thing called a setuma no matter what, but the (post-Talmudic) insistence upon 9 letters as a convention is just for min hamuvchar.

On the other hand, it is also possible to say as follows: Both the setuma and the petucha are gaps, and they are distinguishable from one another based on whether text closes in on both sides or not. But it is up to the particular scribe, or school of scribes, to decide on what the convention for the length of a petucha and a setuma will be. But once they decide upon this convention, that becomes the definition, within that school or within that sefer Torah, for a setuma.

The repercussions of the latter is that if indeed we decide that a setuma in a place it is wholly unwarranted invalidates the sefer Torah, then a minimal gap, which is much less than a regular setuma, is not a setuma. Even though it might accord with some rejected opinions, or minority opinions, as to what a valid setuma is, within this sefer Torah, it is no setuma, but rather a gap. Length of the gap is not given a Talmudic definition. And no matter what definition is given by whatever girsa in Maseches Sofrim, or in other sources, for defining whether something is a petucha or setuma, we follow the established length of setuma for that sefer Torah. The gap by Vayechi, where present, does not approach that length.

There is a gemara in Shabbos 103b which states:
מיתיבי (דברים ו) וכתבתם שתהא כתיבה תמה שלא יכתוב אלפין עיינין עיינין אלפין ביתין כפין כפין ביתין גמין צדין צדין גמין דלתין רישין רישין דלתין היהין חיתין חיתין היהין ווין יודין יודין ווין זיינין נונין נונין זיינין טיתין פיפין פיפין טיתין כפופין פשוטין פשוטין כפופין מימין סמכין סמכין מימין סתומין פתוחין פתוחין סתומין פרשה פתוחה לא יעשנה סתומה סתומה לא יעשנה פתוחה כתבה כשירה או שכתב את השירה כיוצא בה או שכתב שלא בדיו או שכתב את האזכרות בזהב הרי אלו יגנזו

Thus, these appear to be causes to invalidate, and among them is listed פרשה פתוחה לא יעשנה סתומה סתומה לא יעשנה פתוחה. We see a definition (not in terms of length) in Yerushalmi Megillah 11b:

פתוחה מראשית סתימה פתוחה מסופה פתוחה פתוחה מיכן ומיכן סתומה

The context of the restriction, in gemara Shabbat 103b, is based on the derasha on וכתבתם שתהא כתיבה תמה. All the examples show how not to confuse phonologically similar letters (aleph and ayin), orthographically similar letters (bet and kaf), and middle letters with their final equivalents (mem and mem sofit). Similarly, just because both petucha and setuma are gaps, one should not make one into the other. All this because confusion between one type and the other is a violation of כתיבה תמה.

Perhaps one can extend this to placing setuma or petucha gaps where they are not required, but this is not necessitated from the reading of the gemara. True, the Rambam does say this, and it might come out of this gemara (or from the aforementioned Yerushalmi, a bit higher up there, about halachot of petucha or not in tefillin). But equally we might say that this is only a matter of confusion between similar items, as a violation of כתיבה תמה, but otherwise, a setuma-sized gap does not matter. Without going into their reasoning, Bach, based on Rivah says it is no problem having extra setuma gaps -- and they argue on the Rambam. This opinion of Bach is rejected by Shach and Taz, but I think Bach's position may well be correct.

Digression: Note that Radvaz wrote that one could put gaps of up to three letters between words. But , as summarized in the preceding posts, this could be either was with Bach, that he argues on the Rambam. But it could also be that he argues on Masechet Soferim as to the side of the gap. And this dispute need not be as astounding as Minchas Eluzer makes it out to be, if we simply say that this is not a setuma because of how the sofer is generally using a setuma, and the convention being used is meakev, while the definition in Masechet Soferim was their own convention (which Rambam says in not meakev). (Unless we read in Bet Yosef's interpretation of Rambam, which is how all these restrictions build on one another, as they do everywhere.)

There is also a difference between a petucha or setuma which is unwarranted, and one which is warranted by some tradition. The fact is, the lack of setuma here, with the "gap of one letter," is the matter of Masoretic note. But there are all sorts of Masoretic traditions. Thus, what started this whole investigation was a statement by Aharon ben Yosef the Karaite that Vayeitzei also was satum {and thus lacked the setuma}, which is not true in Ben Asher codices but may well be in Ben Naftali ones. It is true that Rambam makes note of this dispute amongst traditions, and says to rely on Ben Asher, juxtaposing it with the statement that an unwarranted petucha or setuma invalidates:
אבל אם טעה בריוח הפרשייות וכתב פתוחה סתומה, או סתומה פתוחה, או שהפסיק בריוח והניח פנוי במקום שאין בו פרשה, או שכתב כדרכו ולא הפסיק בריוח במקום הפרשה, או ששינה צורת השירות--הרי זה פסול, ואין לו תקנה, אלא לסלק את כל הדף שטעה בו

ד ולפי שראיתי שיבוש גדול בכל הספרים שראיתי בדברים אלו, וכן בעלי המסורות שכותבין ומחברין להודיע הסתומות והפתוחות, נחלקין בדברים אלו, במחלוקת הספרים שסומכין עליהן--ראיתי לכתוב הנה כל פרשייות התורה, הסתומות והפתוחות, וצורות השירות, כדי לתקן עליהן כל הספרים ולהגיה מהן.

ה וספר שסמכנו עליו בדברים אלו, הוא הספר הידוע במצריים, שהוא כולל ארבעה ועשרים ספרים, שהיה בירושלים מכמה שנים להגיה ממנו הספרים; ועליו, היו הכול סומכין, לפי שהגיהו בן אשר ודיקדק בו שנים הרבה, והגיהו פעמים רבות כמו שהעתיקו. ועליו, סמכתי בספר תורה שכתבתי כהלכתו.

ו ספר בראשית--יהי רקיע, יקוו המים, יהי מארת, ישרצו המים, תוצא הארץ, ויכלו, אלה תולדות השמים, כולן פתוחות, והן שבע פרשייות; אל האשה אמר, ולאדם אמר

It would certainly seem that he invalidates these sifrei Torah which rely on alternate traditions (which he held was based on simply seeing the sefer Torah before them).

But all this is based on tradition. Rambam does not mention the gap at Vayechi. And we don't have that portion of the Allepo codex (of Ben Asher tradition) to see whether a gap of one or two letters is left. But perhaps one can say that when basing oneself on masoretic notes, albeit with a different interpretation, one should not reckon this gap as the minimal setuma {even if we have a concept of minimal setuma} to invalidate {if we would invalidate}. Rambam would say otherwise, it would seem.

One final thought. Masechet Soferim indeed invalidates with gaps between verses, or with dots over the last letter. As we saw:
In the girsa of Masechet Soferim which is before us: "A sefer shepasak veshenakad rashei hapesukim, one should not read it in." And this is that it has separations between the verses.
and another girsa:
this girsa brought down in the Aguda: ספר שנפסקו ואוקרעו, etc., and in Semak he writes, "between one verse to the next verse like the length of a small word."
But is this really based on a setuma in a place it should not be? It would seem not. Rather, think for a moment about the hava amina of those who wanted to do this. For if there was no thought to do this, there would be no reason to oppose it.

I think the thought process was as follows. We cannot make any marks in the sefer Torah about this, or add words or letters to denote this. (Such a statement: stop here.) This is Masechet Soferim, and the orthography for nikkud and trup have not yet been invented (depending on who you ask), but even if it did exist at the time, we are not about to start adding all this to a sefer Torah. But there is something which seems not to invalidate.

There is a midrash about how Ezra the Scribe was uncertain whether certain letters and words should be present in the sefer Torah, and he decided to put them in but with dots. That way, if they should be there, they are there. And if not, behold, there are dots over them. (See e.g. Talmudic manuscripts with dots over letters or words that were put in in error.) Thus, there would seem to be no problem with putting dots over letters that should be there. That would not invalidate. So some genius decided to put dots over every last word. It would not invalidate, for it did not by Ezra, and this way the baal koreh knows where to stop. But in Masechet Soferim, they say this is invalid. The same for leaving a gap between one verse and the next. The hava amina was that these are not words or letters, but merely gaps. And these gaps would presumably be distinguishable than the convention of a setuma. But in both cases, it is encoding new information in the sefer Torah, and so Masechet Soferim says not to read from such a sefer Torah. Now, Rema says one can, and indeed in practice he made such gaps. But this need not have anything to do with unwarranted setumot.

For a gap such as the one we have by Vayechi, would Masechet Soferim really have a problem with that. Assuming it for some reason is not a setuma, would it be invalid just like an inter-pasuk gap? I am not so convinced it is so. There is a difference between trying to encode additional information all over Tanach, taking advantage of gaps, and trying to follow an interpretation of a Masoretic note (whether or not interpreted correctly) in one particular location in Tanach. One is innovation, while the other is (perhaps misguided) tradition of a special type of gap.

I also do not see why one should extend anything whatsoever in terms of gaps between pesukim and between aliyot in printed Chumashim and Tanachs! Masechet Soferim which is concerned about inter-pasuk gaps is concerned because this is a method of encoding additional information about pasuk pauses. And presumably, even though the orthography of nikkud and trup had not yet been invented, they would have invalidated writing trup and nikkud inside. But that is for a sefer Torah! We already have -- and Rambam spoke about -- the Allepo Codex, with nikkud, and trup, and masoretic notes. If we can have nikkud and trup outside of a sefer Torah, why can we not make a gap as well in a chumash, outside a sefer Torah?

Vayechi: Minchas Eluzer's Teshuva On The Gap - pt iv

For previous segments of this teshuva, see part 1 ;part 2, and part 3.

The summation of the ruling, with the help of Blessed Hashem, is to warn to scribes not to place any gap, except as is necessary for between one word and the next, but not more, not in the middle and not at the end of the verse, nor at the end of the "parsha" for the oleh. And so too, at the beginning of parshat Vayechi, that should not make the gap and the distinction at all. And if such is found in a sefer Torah, they need to fix it, if they is found a gap of 3 letters, which is a setuma, in a place where there need not be one, based on the position of the Masechet Soferim which is before us, as mentioned.

[Except for where it is found such in old sefer Torahs written by the holy writing of righteous people and geonei olam, who practiced this based on the ruling of the Rema, for we are afraid to send forth our hand to change the holy sefer Torah written by them, where they have to themselves upon what to reply, and so we should not change at all. And see in Shach, siman 275, seif katan 6, in the name of the teshuvat Maharam Minz like this.]

And ab initio, it is proper to be careful not to place even the measure of 2 letters, which is a setuma according to the opinion of Rabbenu Tam in the name of the siddur hakadmonim, such that {note: the following in poetry} the Torah of Hashem should be complete, in terms of petucha and setuma, complete and signed, without any change at all, from the places where there is a tradition from Sinai that one needs to make the separation with sweet speech, from days of old. And after the fact {bedieved}, if this is found at the time of reading, such that it is not possible to fix, certainly, one should not take out another (even if this is a new sefer Torah) {rather that the old ones mentioned in the previous, bracketed, paragraph}. For there is in this many double-layered doubts for leniency. And so too, if as a result of this, they will need to hide away a parchment sheet, for there is close to this of Divine Names which may not be obliterated, then perhaps there is to rely upon the opinions which hold (and like the opinion of the Mordechai who learns this based on Masechet Soferim) that the measure is 9 letters. However, aside from this, the obligation is to fix every sefer Torah, as mentioned.

After this, I merited to see for myself the aforementioned sefer Torah of the Rema, z"l, (in the synagogue of the Rema in Krakow), in the old parchment pages within it, which are from the holy handwriting of the Rema, z"l. And such in found there, the separation in all the verses, between one verse and the next verse. And this is because the Rema was working according to his opinion, as mentioned. But we, who rule like the aforementioned Lechem Chamudot and the Magen Avraham, we should not make any separation in any place, except for by a setuma, as we explained above, with the aid of Heaven.

Now, at the time of printing, the She'elot uTeshuvot Admat Kodesh (to Maharam Mizrachi) reached us. And I saw in chelek 2, siman 2, of Yoreh Deah, that he wrote about a certain sofer who erred, in understanding the statement of Razal of "Why is this parsha setuma" in parshat Vayechi, {thinking} that it needed to be a setuma, and he made it a {full-length?} setuma (as I wrote {suggested} earlier), and he leaned to permit to read from it in pressing times, when there is no other sefer Torah -- for the reason that, at any rate, it is a termination of a parsha {presumably meaning the "sidra" of Vayigash}. And what appears to my humble opinion is to forbid, and the Mishna {=law} does not move from its place, from the sources

that I brought above, from the Masoretic works, and from the holy Zohar, it appears that it is not a termination {piska} at all.

And also there, in Admat Kodesh, he leans to say the opposite. That also according to the opinion of the one who permits, if he made it a setuma in a place that it is not required, here there is to be stringent even more, according to everyone, for so did Razal receive as tradition, that it should be in there clear from it itself that there is no separation of a setuma. If so, if he changed and made it a setuma, it does prevent it {from being valid}, even after the fact {bedieved}. This appears more logical, to practical halacha, and as I wrote, with the aid of Heaven.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Vayechi: Minchas Eluzer's Teshuva On The Gap - pt iii

For previous segments of this teshuva, see part 1 and part 2.

And so, even between one verse and the next verse, even though the Rema in Orach Chaim siman 32 seif 32 ruled to leave a bit blank between one verse and the next verse, and so is ruled in the Shach Yoreh Deah (siman 274 seif katan 6), even so the Magen Avraham there, siman 32, argues on this. For the Rema brings this only from the Rivash (siman 286), and in the Rivash is is explained that only if he did this, it does not invalidate after the fact. And therefore the Magen Avraham ruled that one should not leave anything between one verse and the next verse, except as between other words.

And so too in Benei Yona, he writes that one should not leave any {extra} gap between one verse and the next verse, like the opinion of the majority of decisors and like the girsa of Masechet Soferim which is before us: "A sefer shepasak veshenakad rashei hapesukim, one should not read it in." And this is that it has separations between the verses.

And also in the Shulchan Aruch of the Tanya and in the Biur haGra, they rule like the Magen Avraham and not like the Rema.

And even though in Eliyahu Rabba he leans to justify the position of the Rema, since in the sefer Baruch SheAmar he rules like it, behold, he already wrote in Benei Yona that this written in Baruch SheAmar is according to the girsa which was in front of him in Masechet Soferim, and so is this girsa brought down in the Aguda: ספר שנפסקו ואוקרעו, etc., and in Semak he writes, "between one verse to the next verse like the length of a small word." But according to our girsa, with which all decisors rule, certainly one should not make a separation at all, even between verses, as I have brought down above a proof from the words of the Tur. For if this were not so, the words of the Tur are difficult, as mentioned.

(And also, without this, it is a novelty that which is written in the Semak that between one verse and the next verse like the length of a small word. And the Benei Yona wrote that there is to say that they had such a girsa in Masechet Soferim. And perforce one must say that "a small word" is at least 2 letters, and a setuma according to the Masechet Soferim is 3 letters. If so, there is almost no recognizable distinction for a setuma, since on every single pasuk there is a gap of two letters, at least, such that the distinction is almost not recognized.

And further, that which is stated also according to the words of the Rabbenu Tam in the name of the siddur hakadmonim, that a setuma is also only two letters. And even though for the Semak this is not a true difficult, even so, it is a novelty, and requires consideration.)

Therefore, certainly one should not make a gap also between one verse and the next verse, except for that which is between any word and the next word, which is the fullness of one letter.

And thus, according to this, it is prohibited to leave also in the place of the end of the parsha of the 7 readings (printed in Chumashim) any separation or distinction. And chalila to do this in a sefer Torah, and whoever changes, he has the lower hand. For who permitted them to make a gap and a difference ab initio, in a place where there is no petucha or setuma? Chalila to do this in a sefer Torah!

And this is, in my humble opinion, frivolity of the one who does this in our days. And also since the division of these parshiyot are not at all a received tradition in our hands, and as is known in the position of the Gra of Vilna, as is written in sefer Shaarei Rachamim in his name, that one should not conclude the 7 readings, where possible, except in a place where there is a petucha or setuma, and not specifically as is established in the parsha in Chumashim.

It is true, that I have heard from a certain Torah scholar who saw, in the holy community of Krakow (in the synagogue of the Rema, z"l), in an old sefer Torah attributed to the Rema, z"l, he saw there in parshat Bechukotai, in the pasuk {Vayikra 26:6} וְנָתַתִּי שָׁלוֹם בָּאָרֶץ {The entire sidra begins at pasuk 3}

there, there is a slight separation, such that it is before the second parsha {that is, the second aliyah, which is from pasuk 3 to pasuk 5, see here}. (And I did not see this, because they only take out this specific sefer Torah as set intervals, because of its great worth.)

And I responded to him that from this, there is no proof, for the Rema is consistent in his position, for he rules in Orach Chaim siman 32 that one should place a gap between one verse and the next verse, and therefore it is fine that such is found in his sefer Torah, a little gap. And also it is possible that there is not there a measure of 3 letters, but rather a gap which is recognizable a bit to one who is careful {medakdek} on this.

Butm the Lechem Chamudot, the Magen Avraham, and the Acharonim in the sifrei stam from whose mouths we live in our generations regarding these halachot -- all of them rule in this not like the Rema. Therefore, certainly, one should not place any gap at all.

And behold, even though we wrote above that the Mordechai brought from Masechet Soferim that the measure of a setuma is 9 letters, behold, in Masechet Soferim which is before us, such is not found. Rather, it is explained that the measure of a setuma is 3 letters. And also the Gra, who carefully analyzes and emends {/corrects}, does not emend in Masechet Soferim another nusach there.

And also, the nusach which the Mordechai brings from Masechet Soferim, that he writes, "the gap between one parsha and the next parsha, or the gap of the parsha, is 3 words of 3 letters" -- there is no proof that this is going also on a setuma, and one can say that his intent that a parasha petucha requires 9 letters, and this is like the conclusion of the Rosh and the Tur that a petucha is 9 letters and a setuma is 3 letters. And specifically, that in our nusach, in all printings of Masechet Soferim, it is found explained as mentioned, that a setuma is 3 letters.

Therefore, certainly it is so for a stringency, that it is forbidden to place a gap like this in a place where there need not be a setuma, as mentioned.

the conclusion, in another post...

Daf Yomi Nedarim 5b: Does Rabbi Yehuda Really Insist On Explicit Yadot?

(Related, but not equal to this, is the following video, of Rif on Nedarim daf 5 through daf 7. Also available on my Rif blog.


On Nedarim 5b:
כר' יהודה דאמר ידים שאין מוכיחות לא הויין ידים דתנן גופו של גט הרי את מותרת לכל אדם ר' יהודה אומר ודין דיהוי ליכי מנאי ספר תרוכין ואגרת שבוקין:
like Rabbi Yehuda, who said that handles which are not explicit are not handles. For we learnt: The essential part of a get is "Behold you are permitted to any man." Rabbi Yehuda says: And this {document} should be from me to you as a book of dismissal and a letter of release."
This would appear to be of similar type as the above, about Rabbi Meir holding a certain principle -- a far-reaching extrapolation of principle from a local law, by the setama digmara, in order to read the point of dispute of Abaye and Rava first into the earlier generation, in Shmuel, and then into Rabbi Yehuda, the Tanna.

But just perhaps this is not the point of dispute between Rabbi Yehuda and the Sages. Rather, the question is how one makes a derasha from the pesukim. The pesukim say {Devarim 24}:
א כִּי-יִקַּח אִישׁ אִשָּׁה, וּבְעָלָהּ; וְהָיָה אִם-לֹא תִמְצָא-חֵן בְּעֵינָיו, כִּי-מָצָא בָהּ עֶרְוַת דָּבָר--וְכָתַב לָהּ סֵפֶר כְּרִיתֻת וְנָתַן בְּיָדָהּ, וְשִׁלְּחָהּ מִבֵּיתוֹ. ב וְיָצְאָה, מִבֵּיתוֹ; וְהָלְכָה, וְהָיְתָה לְאִישׁ-אַחֵר.
The Chachamim hold that there is no specification in pasuk 1 about the content of the sefer keritut. Rather he writes her this sefer and puts it in her hand, and sends her out. And the idea is that she is divorced, and can marry anyone else. This is the result, as found in pasuk 2. And so there must be some words to that effect in the sefer.

In contrast, Rabbi Yehuda makes a specific derasha. Pasuk 1 states וְכָתַב לָהּ סֵפֶר כְּרִיתֻת וְנָתַן בְּיָדָהּ, which we may interpret as "And he wrote to him: 'A book of divorce, and he gave it in her hand'."

Thus, Rabbi Yehuda holds that part of what is required to be written in the get is what is mentioned in pasuk 1. And his formulation is essentially a translation of the pasuk into Aramaic:
"And this {document} should be from me to you as a book of dismissal and a letter of release." Note the mention of the book of dismissal = sefer keritut, and that it should be from me to you, which is = to וְנָתַן בְּיָדָהּ.

But the setama digmara instead reads this as an established principle about yadot in general, and how specific they must be.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Vayechi: Minchas Eluzer's Teshuva On The Gap - pt ii

Continuing the Minchas Eluzer's teshuva about the gap, or lack thereof, at the start of parshat Vayechi. The first segment is available here.

My rough translation of the teshuva now continues:

And behold, this which they leave in this, as the beginning of parshat Vayechi, and so too in all places where there is the end of a parsha which is etched in Chumash for the 7 readings, even in a place where there is no petucha or setuma at all, and they leave a gap of something like 2 or 3 yuds at times.

And according to the opinion of Rabbenu Tam, the Rosh, and the Tur, and so is it explicit in masechet Sofrim, that the measure of a setuma is 3 letters, as is brought in Beis Yosef siman 275. And see the Derisha there, what he writes upon the Tur who ruled like the Roash in the name of Masechet Soferim in the measure of the stuma as 3 letters. And he asks there from what is implied, that also by p'tucha, the measure is three letters. And {if so}, why does the Tur rule like the Rosh that by a petucha, it needs to be 9 letters?

And he answers that it is possible that in this the Tur relied on Rabbenu Tam brought in the siddur hakadmonim, that a petucha is the measure of three words or three letters each. And he leaves it as something that requires further investigation in the Drisha.

And in my humble opinion, the words of the Tur are still difficult ever more in this. For if we says that he relied on the words of the siddur hakadmonim, which Rabbenu Tam brought, that a petucha needs to be 9 letters, if so, it is also made clear there that a setuma there is of two letters. And why does the Tur rule that a setuma needs to be three letters. And perforce, we are pressed to say that the Tur is stringent like both of them, both that which is explained in the siddur hakadmonim in the matter of the petucha, as well as what is written in masechet Soferim that a setuma is 3 letters. And this can work only when it is stated that one may not place between one verse and another anything at all. But it is not so if we say that one can place a little {gap} between one verse and the next, in accordance with the opinion of the Rema which we will bring later on, with the aid of Heaven, except that you do not leave like the measure of a setuma.

If so, it is a stringency which leads to a leniency. For in truth, the measure of a setuma according to the siddur hakadmonim (in accordance with which the Tur ruled in terms of a petucha, as written above) is only 2 letters, and when it is stated that a setuma is 3 letters, if so, it is permitted to place two letters gap between one verse and the next verse (and as is in truth brought as a girsa in masechet soferim according to the opinion of the Baruch SheAmar). And in truth this is a setuma {rather than an acceptable inter-pasuk gap}. And if so, this is a stringecy which is a leniency.

Rather, certainly they did not have the custom at all to place a space between one verse and the next verse. And this is a proof to the words of the Magen Avraham who argues on the Rema in siman 32, as we will mention later on. And therefore, the Tur did not worry that this will bring to a leniency via this stringency,
since it is uncommon that they leave a gap the measure of two letters in the middle, and to make a gap for nothing.

And also that which the Bet Yosef wrote in siman 275 there according to the opinion of the Rambam, that he requires 9 letters {gap} also by setuma, that the Rambam writes there himself that there are things which are not stated in the Talmud, but was received via the hands of the scribes, one man from the mouth of the previous man, and such as the space of 9 letters -- that all of these matters are for fulfilling the precept at its best {mitzvah min hamuvchar}, and if he changed, he did not invalidate. End quote of the Rambam.

And based on this, the Bet Yosef wrote there that where is does not invalidate, this is specifically where he did not leave a gap of less than 3 times "asher" {??}, but wherever there is not a gap of 9 letters, even of small letters, then it is invalid as well. End quote of the Bet Yosef.

And in the poverty of my opinion {or in my humble opinion}, I have not merited to understand the words of our holy master the Bet Yosef in what he wrote there. For the Rambam wrote not like Masechet Soferim, for he wrote that the measure of a petucha and a setuma are 3 letters. It appears from this that he holds that that which is written in Masechet Soferim that a setuma is such to write there of 3 letters, this is primary, and not like what the Mordechai wrote there in the name of Masechet Soferim that a setuma is three words consisting of three letters each. And if so, the Rambam, who requires 9 letters, wrote afterwards that this is only that which was received via the scribes, and it does not invalidate based on that.

And if so, what basis do we have to invalidate, according to the opinion of the Rambam, when there is not 9 small letters, since this has no source at all in Masechet Soferim, this requirement of 9 letters, but rather it specifies three letters according to the words of the Bet Yosef, not like the girsa of the Rosh. And the Mordechai wrote that one should not invalidate, after the fact {bedieved} when it is not found such, for it is not according to the law {as an absolute requirement}. If so, what basis do we have to invalidate a sefer Torah from its holiness?

And we cannot say that we are being stringent here {as a chumra}, for behold, there are times, when it is not possible to erase {letters} and extend the setuma, such as where it is written proximate to it some Name, and via this, the sefer Torah will come to be invalidated. Perforce, I have
not merited to understand at all the opinion of the Bet Yosef, unless it be stated that he leans towards the doubt like the words of the Mordechai which he brings from Masechet Soferim, which is 9 letters. And it does not appear so from his language.

However, to be practically lenient lehalacha against our master the Bet Yosef, who would dare? It will be as it will be. Even so, to be lenient in the other direction, and to say that that when he left an empty space in a certain place, to say that since there is not in this 9 yuds, this is not a setuma and it does not invalidate, this we certainly cannot say, since in Masechet Soferim it is explained that it {a setuma} is 3 letters. If so, what basis do we have via this accepted custom, according to the Rambam? -- for the Rambam himseld wrote upon it that one should not stand upon it a basis in terms of after the fact {dieved} -- and all the more so to be lenient based on this against the law in Masechet Soferim which is detailed there. And even though the Mordechai brings in the name of Masechet Soferim the measure of a setuma as 9 letters, and thus in the words of the Masechet Soferim, there are variant girsaot, and we do not know which one is original.

However, at any rate, there is a doubt, and if so, there is to wonder about why this is not brought down in Shulchan Aruch, that one should not leave a measure of 3 letters in a place which is not a setuma, for this is the measure of a setuma according to the opinion of Masechet Soferim, and for stringency, certainly we should not deviate from the measure of Masechet Soferim, as mentioned.

And see in sefer Be'er Yaakov, siman 32 in Orach Chaim (page 4b, in the statement beginning "achar katavti zot), that which he answers according to the opinion of the Taz there. In in truth, my mind is unsettled why this is not mentioned in Shulchan Aruch, that one should not leave a space of 3 letters. For behold, there in Bet Yosef he brings in the name of the Rosh only that the Yerushalmi is primary against Masechet Soferim in a place that the Yerushalmi argues, but in a place where they do not argue on it, but only the custom which the Rambam brought, and he himself wrote that it does not hinder {its being valid}. If so, to be lenient in this against Masechet Soferim, where do we have?

And I have seen in the Shiyarei Knesset haGedolah, siman 275, in hagahot of the Tur, seif katan 2, what he writes in the matter of a setuma or petucha in a place it is not required. And he is already argued against in She`elot uTeshuvot Devar Moshe (chelek 1) to Maharam Ameralaow zz"l, siman 60 of Yoreh Deah, that this that the Kenesset haGedolah wrote was his own opinion. Behold, it comes out explicitly in the Rambam (perek 10 from hilchot sefer Torah, halacha 3) that if he leaves blank in a place where there is not a petucha or setuma, it is invalid. And in Kenesset haGedolah he brings there to the Radvaz, see there what he writes on this in Devar Moshe there [and this is in Razvaz in chelek 4, siman 82 (folio 153)].

And it appears from the Radvaz that he is able to leave between one word and the next a space of three letters. And it astounding that he is not stringent like the opinion of Masechet Soferim, as written above. And if it is stated like the words of the Bach, in siman 275, that he derives from the words of
the Rivah that he argues on the Rambam, and holds that even if he leaves a space the measure of a setuma or a petucha in a place where there is not {supposed to be} a setuma or petucha at all, there is no harm in it, and it is valid. And based on this, we may answer why it was not brought in Shulchan Aruch in the matter of leaving 3 letters {gap}. And also the position of the Radvaz is that since, after the fact {bedieved} it is valid.

However, this is not so, for the Taz pushed off his words and wrote that there is no legal decisor who argues on the Rambam in this. And so wrote the Shach, seif katan 1, there, that the words of the Bach are not compelling. And in Panim Meirot (chelek 1, siman 13) he writes as well, and concludes that in matter of legal decision, the opinion is settled like the words of the Taz who argues on the Bach in this. If so, this still needs delving, as we wrote above.

Even so, certainly it is forbidden to place, ab initio, a space of three letters, for this is the space of a setuma according to the position of Masechet Soferim, and the Rishonim and the Tur who ruled like this. And also not the space of two letters, for this is the space of a setuma according to the position of the Rabbenu Tam in the name of siddur hakadmonim. And so is written in sefer Melechet Shamayim on stam {sefer Torah, tefillin, mezuzot} (at the end of rule 12) to be careful in this not to leave even the measure of two letters leyud-gimel (it appears his intent is to the words of the siddur hakadmonim). And so is explained in the sefer Keset haSofer, siman 16, seif katan 7, and in the rest of books about sta"m.

to be continued in another post...


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