Monday, July 07, 2008

Rabbi Yosef Chayun on Moshe's Sin

Continuing the discussion of the identity of Moshe's sin, and how the pesukim in Tehillim shed light on it. In Tehillim 106:
לב וַיַּקְצִיפוּ, עַל-מֵי מְרִיבָה; וַיֵּרַע לְמֹשֶׁה, בַּעֲבוּרָם. 32 They angered Him also at the waters of Meribah, and it went ill with Moses because of them;
לג כִּי-הִמְרוּ אֶת-רוּחוֹ; וַיְבַטֵּא, בִּשְׂפָתָיו. 33 For they embittered his spirit, and he spoke rashly with his lips.
In the previous post, I discussed Radak, and we saw a ketav yad where he speaks at much greater length. I suggest at the end that rather than the root mrd, Radak is referring to the root mrr, and I give a few proofs of this,

We now turn to Rabbi Yosef Chayyun, a 15th century Biblical commentator from Lisbon, Portugal. He uses similar language as Radak, and comes to similar conclusions as I suggested in one of my posts of how to parse the pesukim in Tehillim. I think his explanation is worthy in and of itself, as well as for its value in making the perush of Radak (and his father, Rav Yosef Kimchi) clearer -- for he says similar things in slightly different language. This will, I think, prove my thesis of the previous post that Radak also meant mrr rather than mrd, as is printed.

A fairly rough translation of his commentary follows. Please bear with it.

וַיַּקְצִיפוּ, עַל-מֵי מְרִיבָה -- They angered God at the waters of merivah {contention}
and then he cites how they did this. Thus, in Bemidbar 20:
ג וַיָּרֶב הָעָם, עִם-מֹשֶׁה; וַיֹּאמְרוּ לֵאמֹר, וְלוּ גָוַעְנוּ בִּגְוַע אַחֵינוּ לִפְנֵי יְהוָה. 3 And the people strove with Moses, and spoke, saying: 'Would that we had perished when our brethren perished before the LORD!
ד וְלָמָה הֲבֵאתֶם אֶת-קְהַל יְהוָה, אֶל-הַמִּדְבָּר הַזֶּה, לָמוּת שָׁם, אֲנַחְנוּ וּבְעִירֵנוּ. 4 And why have ye brought the assembly of the LORD into this wilderness, to die there, we and our cattle?
ה וְלָמָה הֶעֱלִיתֻנוּ, מִמִּצְרַיִם, לְהָבִיא אֹתָנוּ, אֶל-הַמָּקוֹם הָרָע הַזֶּה: לֹא מְקוֹם זֶרַע, וּתְאֵנָה וְגֶפֶן וְרִמּוֹן, וּמַיִם אַיִן, לִשְׁתּוֹת. 5 And wherefore have ye made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in unto this evil place? it is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water to drink.'
וַיֵּרַע לְמֹשֶׁה, בַּעֲבוּרָם -- it was their fault, for they caused it, as he will explain.

כִּי-הִמְרוּ אֶת-רוּחוֹ --
for they mareru his ruach and העציבוהו - saddened him when they contended with him.

The root is mrh, and he compares it to marat nefesh, a term we find in the first perek of Shmuel:
י וְהִיא, מָרַת נָפֶשׁ; וַתִּתְפַּלֵּל עַל-ה, וּבָכֹה תִבְכֶּה. 10 and she was in bitterness of soul--and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore.
where the description is of Chana's feelings before she prayed. This would certainly seem to connote bitterness.

And given this, it would truly seem that Radak in the previous post was saying the same thing, that the root is mrh and it connotes bitterness, like the morat ruach which Yitzchak and Rivkah had because of Esav's wives. This plays out in similar terms and with similar ideas. Thus, it truly seem to me that there must be an early scribal error in Radak, and he says that it connotes mrr rather than mrd. (Indeed, even the mrr in this looks curiously close to mrd.)

Rabbi Yosef Chayyun continues that because of Moshe's anguish and his sadness, he did not play close enough attention to the word of Hashem. That Hashem told him to speak to the rock. And since he did not do what Hashem commanded, the first hit did not work, and he had to hit it a second time. And this was a chilul of Hashem's honor. For when Israel did not see that water go out on the first strike, this suggested that Hashem did not have such power, or that Moshe only accomplished this via witchcraft.

And indeed, just as I suggested in an earlier post, he takes heemantem as the causative. He says because lo heemantem et Yisrael -- you did not cause Israel to believe in Me. And ki meritem pi -- because maru devaro -- (perhaps?) changed His word.

He agrees with Rashi that וַיְבַטֵּא בִּשְׂפָתָיו refers to Hashem's oath that Moshe would not enter the land.

Then he cites Rambam that Moshe's sin was speech, of Shim'u na hamorim. And then explains it in accordance with this: because they made Moshe's spirit bitter, in his anger he uttered what he should not have uttered. He asks, though, on Rambam, why Aharon should be punished.

He then suggests a peshat more in accordance with Rashi, that himru et rucho refers to Moshe and Aharon, with a root of meri, rebellion, for Hashem said to speak to the rock, and they did not speak, but rather Moshe hit. And the blame on Israel would rely entirely on the previous pasuk for angering Moshe -- וַיַּקְצִיפוּ עַל-מֵי מְרִיבָה would refer to them angering Moshe (not Hashem, as per Judaica Press' translation), and thus by his acting in anger, וַיֵּרַע לְמֹשֶׁה בַּעֲבוּרָם, it went bad for Moshe because of them. And thus, וַיְבַטֵּא בִּשְׂפָתָיו Hashem swore.

Thus, we see all the various options I laid out in the previous post. And we see that since they consider the root to be mrh rather than mrr, it can take the form himru, instead of something like heimeiru.

BeEzrat Hashem, more commentators in a later post.

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin