Thursday, June 04, 2009

Amen | Amen; Is the Pasek meaningful?

The response of the Sotah, in Bemidbar 5:22, is Amen Amen. What is the meaning of this repetitious? Part of the seriousness of the situation and ceremony? Amen to each detail?

Indeed, Ibn Ezra the pashtan writes that it is for chizuk -- whether of the inyan or her convictions -- probably the former. Thus:

אמן -
פעמים חיזוק:

Rashi gives the famous derasha:
Amen, amen: An acceptance of the oath: “amen” for the curse, “ amen” for the oath, “amen” whether from this man [whom her husband suspects], “amen” whether from another man, “amen” that I did not go astray while betrothed or married, while awaiting levirate marriage from my brother-in-law or after having married him. — [Sifrei Naso 1:66, Sotah 18a, b]. אמן אמן: קבלת שבועה, אמן על האלה אמן על השבועה, אמן אם מאיש זה, אמן אם מאיש אחר, אמן שלא סטיתי ארוסה ונשואה שומרת יבם וכנוסה:
The way this derasha appears to function is based on the unnecessary duplication. Add to this the concern that perhaps she actually did stray but the husband did not correctly identify the adulterer; and the concept of gilgul shevua, and we arrive at the idea that it will work to determine her guilt in general, rather than getting caught in the specifics of this particular allegation. But the spark is the duplication.

Meanwhile, Baal Haturim darshens it from a different source. This time, I agree that what he identifies as a pasek is indeed a pasek. And it stands between the two Amens. He writes that the implication of the pasek is to divide the targets of the two Amens. Amen from this man, and Amen from some other man.

Just as in my previous Baal Haturim post about Baal Haturim and gematria, I would like to posit that this is not the source of the derasha but rather an additional backup. However, I am not confident enough to say this about Baal Haturim and trup, where indeed he does seem to innovate. Indeed, perhaps he is interpreting this famous derasha, and claiming that the trup is the mechanism of that derasha. That could work.

Regardless, this is where I would differ with him. The pasek tells us nothing here. 

As Wickes notes, but others as well, one very common function of Pasek is to divide between a repeated word, in the same or similar form, where the first word has a melech so that no division is present, and so a Pasek steps up to the plate. There are many such instances of this.

As such, it simply does not appear to be the case that absent the Pasek, we would think the Amen Amen applied to a single man, but the trup of Pasek is teaching this lesson. Rather, we have the repetition. The repetition causes the pasek. And the derasha is thus on the duplication, with the pasek just coming along for the ride.


aaron.nanach said...


Chazal said that one who sees a Sotah should become a Nazir from wine. This reminds of of what the Baal Shem Tov z'l taught that one who sees a blemish in another must have some part of that blemish in himself as well.

yaak said...

Also, in כי תשא, by the י"ג מדות, it says ...ה' | ה' א-ל רחום - and many of the Sephardic Siddurim say that if you don't pronounce the Pasek there (or at least pause slightly), "גדול עוונו מנשוא".


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