Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Vayakhel: Upon the Women - Does Onkelos Intend a Drash?

At the beginning of parshat Vayakhel we encounter the following pasuk (Shemot 35:22):

כב וַיָּבֹאוּ הָאֲנָשִׁים, עַל-הַנָּשִׁים; כֹּל נְדִיב לֵב, הֵבִיאוּ חָח וָנֶזֶם וְטַבַּעַת וְכוּמָז כָּל-כְּלִי זָהָב, וְכָל-אִישׁ, אֲשֶׁר הֵנִיף תְּנוּפַת זָהָב לַה. 22 And they came, both men and women, as many as were willing-hearted, and brought nose-rings, and ear-rings, and signet-rings, and girdles, all jewels of gold; even every man that brought an offering of gold unto the LORD.
Onkelos translates:
כב וּמֵיתַן גֻּבְרַיָּא, עַל נְשַׁיָּא; כֹּל דְּאִתְרְעִי לִבֵּיהּ, אֵיתִיאוּ שֵׁירִין וְשַׁבִּין וְעִזְקָן וּמָחוֹךְ כָּל מָן דִּדְהַב, וְכָל גְּבַר, דַּאֲרֵים אֲרָמוּת דַּהְבָּא קֳדָם יְיָ.

There is an interesting "Rashi" associated with this statement of Onkelos, and associated with this pasuk. It reads:
with the women Heb. עַל הַנָּשִׁים, lit., [the jewelry was still] on the women. The men came with the women and [stood] near them. (The reason the Targum [Onkelos] left the passage in its simple sense is that he does not render וַיָּבֹאוּ הָאִנָשִׁים as וַאִתוֹ גַבְרַיָא, and the men came, but he renders: וּמַיְתַן, [and the men] brought, meaning that they brought bracelets and earrings while they were still on [i.e., being worn by] the women, as Rashi writes on “spun the goat hair” (verse 26), [which signifies that the women spun the hair while it was still on the goats].)
There are two aspects to Onkelos which are off, and which prompt this "Rashi." The first is that he translates al hanashim as al neshaya. That is, he does not translate al at all, and move it to its more peshat-oriented sense, "with," by saying im. Contrast this with Targum Pseudo-Yonatan, and see that he translates im neshaya. The second aspect which seems off is that he translates vayavo`u as umaytan, "and they brought," rather than va`atu. Meanwhile, Onkelos himself translates vayavo`u in the previous verse as va`atu, and this is how Targum Pseudo-Yonatan translates both verses.

This then causes one to think in terms of the other known midrash, that the women well unwilling to donate to the golden calf, so the husbands pulled them off of them. So too here, where these donations somewhat atone for those earlier actions, they "brought bracelets and earrings while they were still on the women."

Note that Rashi in all likelihood did not say this. It does not appear in Mossad haRav Kook's edition at all. In the Judaica Press translation (above), and in my Mikraos Gedolos, it appears in parentheses. And to make it clearer, the author of this statement makes reference to Rashi by name, saying "as Rashi writes on “spun the goat hair”," rather than "as I wrote..."

Did Onkelos intend this? It certainly is possible, but it is by no means certain, to my mind. In terms of translating al, Onkelos takes no positive action. This might be to preserve the ambiguity of the word al, since al is after all an Aramaic word as well, and the phrase might mean "with the women" (proximate to them), or "besides the women" (that both groups gave), or "on behalf of the women" (since, as Siftei Chachamim notes, the men had final say over the finances, for significant expenses). Or some fourth explanation I did not manage to brainstorm just now. I know that I often deliberately leave such ambiguities in, when translating Rif. This does not mean that he must be channeling the midrash. Indeed, I somewhat doubt it. In terms of translating vayava`u, that too is by no means certain. The point Onkelos might be trying to make is that in the previous pasuk, it was traveling to a location. But here, the same word means donating, given the context of the items which are donated in the verse. Thus, it has nothing to do with al, but rather with the fact that actual donation occurs in this verse. And so, I am not so sure I agree with this statement added into Rashi.

A funny point associated with this derasha is that it must insist that it was the "bracelets and earrings," that is, חָח וָנֶזֶם, which were brought "while they were still on" the women. But of course, the list given in the verse also includes kumaz, כוּמָז, about which Rashi says
This is a golden ornament placed over a woman’s private parts. Our Rabbis explain the name כּוּמָז as [an acrostic]: כַּאן מְקוֹם זִמָּה, [meaning] here is the place of lewdness. -[from Shab. 64a]
It would obviously be the height of non-tznius to bring the kumaz while still on the woman. What was she to do once it was donated? Thus, this commentary takes care to specify that he is only referring to חָח וָנֶזֶם. But if making the derasha from the phrasing of the pasuk, and from Onkelos, what basis is there to sever the list in the middle, and omit the kumaz?

Let us turn now to the part of Rashi not placed in parentheses:
The men came with the women and [stood] near them.
It is not even clear that this is Rashi. Mossad haRav Kook's edition does cite these words, but puts it in parentheses, and notes that it does not appear in the first printing of Rashi.

But assuming it is Rashi, or even assuming not, what is bothering (actually, motivating) Rashi here? He changes al to im, and explains it as proximity.

Siftei Chachamim offers the following:
It is difficult for him, for we do not accept tzedaka from women, except for a small amount. Therefore he said that the men came together with the women.
Possible. I would not readily agree to this explanation, though. I would instead note that the word al is awkward, that Onkelos leaves it pristine in its ambiguity (and Rashi often makes reference of what Targum says), and that there is that midrash floating around based on al meaning "still on." Therefore, Rashi wants to make clear that the peshat in this verse is "with." He further explains the sense of al which means "with," that they were proximate to them, and thus that upon the group of women, we also have proximate the group of men. So this statement is just clarification of how to translate the verse in its simple meaning. Siftei Chachamim's suggestion, and proposed motivation, is reading Rabbinic halacha into the verse, somewhat anachronistically and thus midrashically. And since Rashi is not trying for midrash here, but rather peshat, I doubt that Siftei Chachamim's suggestion is correct here.

I would also guess that Siftei Chachamim did not have the words of the supercommentary on Rashi, which got embedded in his commentary, and which spoke of Onkelos and the midrash of the jewelry still on the women. If it was before him, it probably would have influenced what he saw as Rashi's motivation.


Eliezer Eisenberg said...

The kumoz was just a low hanging belt thingy. It wasn't intimately contacting the skin. Just like a low necklace draws attention to the neckline, the kumoz drew the eye to the me'kom zimah.

joshwaxman said...

Yachol lihyot. I am not so sure, but admit not having looked into this sugya too deeply. This is, of course, all within Chazal's explanation. Shadal claims it is something else entirely, and thus does JPS translate - a girdle. But this does not necessarily mean that this is how Chazal intended it.

The gemara in Shabbat 64a has:
"R. Eleazar said: 'Agil is a cast of female breasts; kumaz is a cast of the womb. R. Joseph observed: Thus it is that we translate it mahok, [meaning] the place that leads to obscenity [gihuk]. Said Rabbah to him, It is implied in the very Writ itself: Kumaz=here [Ka-an] is the place [Mekom] of unchastity [Zimmah]."

A cast of the womb seems something different than a low hanging belt. And it would seem to be inner clothing, as the next amud (64b) has the following statement by Rav Sheshet about the agil and the kumaz:

"R. Shesheth said: Why does the Writ enumerate the outward ornaments with the inner? To teach you: Whoever looks upon a woman's little finger is as though he gazed upon the pudenda."

If these were indeed inner garments, or even if not, it surely would not be appropriate for the women to be wearing them to the donation point. Which is why I think this commentator pointedly only mentions the outer garments.

Anonymous said...

I hear what you're saying.


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