Monday, December 24, 2007

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

I am splitting the following teshuva, about the gap between Vayigash and Vayechi, into several parts, because it is long and complicated. This is from the Minchas Eluzer, chelek 1:

Siman 10:

I have seen, and have placed it in my heart. Behold, it is found in several sifrei Torah, both new and old, at the beginning of parshat Vayechi, where there is no need for there to be a setuma at all, and despite this the scribes place there a gap equal to the width of three letter yuds, of that font, and perhaps even more than that. And also in the place of the close of the parshiyot of {each of} the 7 readings, which they etch and print in Chumashim, even where there is no petucha or setuma at all, they leave a space of two or three yuds. And also, in sifrei Torah from expert sofrim, I have seen this, and they are certainly following in this custom after the scribes who preceded them. There is to consider if they are acting correctly, since there is in this a fear of a{n unwarranted} setuma, according to opinions of the Rishonim, as will be explained in the answer, with the aid of Heaven.

Behold, when I saw like this in one sefer Torah, in parashat Vayechi, I was astounded at the sight. For it is obvious that there need not be there any gap between the word meod (the close of parashat Vayigash) to the word Vayechi, except as there is between the word Vayechi to the word Yaakov which is after it (as we will explain later on with the aid of Heaven, that even between one pasuk and the next pasuk, one should not place a gap, ab initio, more than between one word and the next). And who learned and permitted them to make such a large gap there? And so too in Tanach and Chumashim.

Ezra the scribe and other exacting scribes wrote {in the Masoretic note}: This parasha, there is not in it a gap at all, except for a gap of a single letter. And the simple explanation is that this is the single letter gap which needs to be between one word and the next, in every place. And so too here it should be so, with no distinction in gap.

And thus, it comes out that it was a minhag of ignorance of the soferim, that they appear to have thought that the explanation of it was that there needs to be an additional gap of a letter more than there is between other words, one to the other.

And so too informed be one sofer, even though he is a Torah scholar! And I told him that this is a mistake.

And so too informed me a certain person who was wise in his own eyes, that perhaps the explanation was "a large letter," such as a resh or a daled, and at times they expand and elongate it {the resh or daled}. And thus is comes out that it is able to be, because of this, a large gap of whitespace. And this is an error which it is not worth responding to, for if so, when they measure {gaps} in terms of letters, they are able to extend to elongate the letter, and if so, there is no measure to the gap! Rather, it is obvious that this {one letter gap here} is the width of a full, small letter, which is what it is every place, between one word and the next. And it comes to say that "expect for the width of a single letter," this is that there is no gap at all, but rather that its law is as it is between every other pair of words.

And I have seen in Masoretic books, in the sefer Or Torah from Maharam di Lunzano, z"l, in the beginning of Vayechi, he writes:
In all scrolls we have seen this verse connected with the end of parashat Vayigash, with nothing between them, not even a hairsbreadth. Also the Rambam z"l does not list it. And therefore the printers erred, in that they placed at the beginning of this parsha a gap just as occurs by a parsha setuma, for there should not be a gap at all, neither a petucha nor a setuma. Etcetera.
And in sefer Em laMesoret (printed in Mantua, 508 = 1732), he suggests on this which was written in Or Torah, "there is not between them even a hairsbreadth," that this is not

hyperliterally so, for we need to leave space between one word and the next word the width of a letter, see there. And the intent of the Or Torah is obviously that they do not leave more than that, even a hairsbreadth, more than other instances of between one word and the next word, and not like the erroneous minhag of certain scribes in this, as mentioned.

[And I kind of thought that perhaps they were drawn in this, and the minhag developed in this for them, from one boor who thought that the explanation in Rashi {who is citing Bereishit Rabba} who said "parasha zo setuma," that it is a setuma rather than a petucha. And therefore he left a space of three yuds like the law of setuma from Masechet Soferim, as we will mention in this with the help of Hashem, may He Be Blessed. And see the explanation of the Maharzu {Rav Zev Wolf} in Midrash {Bereishit Rabba}, Vilna printing, who writes that "this needs delving," because he thought to explain like this, that "parasha zo setuma" is that there is a setuma {rather than a petucha}. However, after this, he resolves it and explains it appropriately. And see Mizrachi there, and Gur Aryeh to the Maharal miPrague, z"l, and Siftei Chachamim, that also {initially} wish to make it enter their minds explain like this, and they write that this is not so, but rather that it is obvious that the explanation is that there is no gap at all.]

And also in Zohar haKadosh, on Vayechi (216b):
Why is this parasha satum, etc. וַיֵּאָחֲזוּ בָהּ, וַיִּפְרוּ וַיִּרְבּוּ מְאֹד {=the end of Vayigash} and it is written וַיְחִי יַעֲקֹב, that it is not fit to have a separation between this and that, etc.
Until here are the words of the Zohar.

Thus, he explains like our words, that one should not make a separation between וַיִּרְבּוּ מְאֹד and וַיְחִי יַעֲקֹב.

And see in Kli Yakar, parashat Vayechi there, that he writes, and these are his words:
And here there is no gap at all. Certainly, the intent of Ezra the Scribe was to juxtapose the pasuk of Vayechi Yaakov to the pasuk beforehand, of וַיֵּשֶׁב יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם, בְּאֶרֶץ גֹּשֶׁן; וַיֵּאָחֲזוּ בָהּ, וַיִּפְרוּ וַיִּרְבּוּ מְאֹד, as if it were that all of it were a single pasuk.
It appears from this that also according to the opinion of the Rema, that one should put a bit of a space between one verse and the next verse in every place {in Tanach} (as will be mentioned later on), here however, one should not leave any {extra} space at all, for we must say that it is as if all of it were a single verse. However, it comes out of this that also, if in every place, we do not have this minhag in this like the Rema, as is mentioned later on, therefore certainly we should not leave any gap in this.

to be continued...


Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

Not to be pedantic, but Mantoba = Mantova = Mantua.

joshwaxman said...

thanks. now corrected.


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