Sunday, December 23, 2007

Vayechi: How Big A Gap Between Vayigash and Vayechi? pt ii

Over Shabbos, I did a little research into this. I asked three baalei keriah in the neighborhood (KHG). One said there was no gap at all, but rather it was just the next work. Another (my brother-in-law) said he seemed to recall it was a gap of two letters. And another (my father-in-law) was sure it was a gap of two letters. So a machloket.

We looked in two different tikkunim. One, from Ktav (1946) had a gap of exactly two letters. Another, more modern one, had a gap of exactly one letter - that is, there was no gap, but rather the regular gap between words. Thus, a machloket.

The masoretic note (brought down e.g. in the Stone Chumash) says "besefer Torah ain piska ela ot echat," that in a sefer Torah there is only a gap of a single letter. Even before seeing this, I intuited that the masoretic note would say this. My guess is that both traditions (of one gap or two) stem from this one masoretic note.

That is, there are two possible interpretations of this masoretic note. It could be that it is saying that there is no gap at all, and so there is only the gap of a single letter - namely, the gap of a single letter that is always present between two words. Or, it could mean that *in addition* to the usual inter-word gap, there is an additional gap of one letter space, thus making it a very tiny setuma. (I would further posit that the former is more likely the true meaning, but feel free to draw your own conclusions.) This may also work with the two interpretations I offered in the previous post, that there are two readings of "mi" in "lama parasha zo setumua *mi*kol parshiyot shebaTorah.

(Indeed, in the commentary in Stone Chumash, and in the Judaica Press translation of Rashi, they indicate that it is *entirely* closed.)

Also, a 19th century acharon (prior to Aruch haShulchan), in the sefer Shulchan HaKeriah, in the commentary of the Misgeret HaShulchan, writes specifically about the gap or lack thereof by Vayechi. He writes that there need not be a gap of more than one letter ("ain tzurich lihyot pitcha ki im revach ot achat") which perhaps means it is allowed, or perhaps means there should be. (Thus, this is in accord with masoretic note, whatever it means.) If there is a gap of up to five letters, it is fine, because this is not a parsha setuma, but it would be good thing to correct it, if it is easy to correct it (but otherwise not). If there is gap of a parsha setuma (which all over we say is a 9 letter gap), then one should seek another sefer Torah. But, if there is no other sefer Torah available, one should read from that sefer Torah, *with* brachot.

(Both the masoretic note and the Shulchan haKeriah credited to my father-in-law.)

Also, the fact that there were seforim with larger gaps *perhaps* shows a masoretic dispute in what sort of gap should be there, again perhaps based in interpretations of either the masoretic note or interpretations of the statement in Bereishit Rabba.

Someone on that group (credit upon request) also pointed me towards the Minchas Eluzer. Perhaps a scan and translation in the next post in this series.

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin