Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Is there an extra yud in our Torah in parshat Devarim, according to Rashi?

It is certainly possible. Anan Lo Bekiin in malei vs. chaser. And IIRC, we see arguments in masoretic seforim about this all the time. The difference here is that Rashi notes that a word is written chaser, and darshens it, whereas we do not have this textual feature. In which case his sefer Torah is different from ours, and perhaps we should correct our sifrei Torah to match. (See here where this idea was discussed, and rejected, on parshablog last.) Rashi indeed gets it from a Sifrei, which means that this traces all the way back to Chazal. The pasuk, in Devarim 1:13, reads:
יג הָבוּ לָכֶם אֲנָשִׁים חֲכָמִים וּנְבֹנִים, וִידֻעִים--לְשִׁבְטֵיכֶם; וַאֲשִׂימֵם, בְּרָאשֵׁיכֶם.13 Get you, from each one of your tribes, wise men, and understanding, and full of knowledge, and I will make them heads over you.'
Rashi writes:

[The word] וַאֲשִׂמֵם lacks a י [after the שׂ; our editions, however, have it]: This teaches us that Israel’s transgressions (אָשָׁם) are hung over the heads of their judges, since they [the judges] should have prevented them [from sinning], and directed them along the right path (Sifrei). ואשמם: חסר יו"ד, למד שאשמותיהם של ישראל תלויות בראשי דייניהם, שהיה להם למחות ולכוון אותם לדרך הישרה:

So Rashi speaks of a missing yud, while we have it! We could explore what the various supercommentaries do with this, and what is present in the masoretic notes and commentaries. Perhaps later. I want to focus on two things. First, what very old and established manuscripts have here, and on Wolf Heidenheim's explanation which eliminates the question entirely, and quite effectively in my opinion. Even though in the end I don't think I agree with him.

The Leningrad Codex has it malei yud:
1:13 הָב֣וּ לָ֠כֶם אֲנָשִׁ֨ים חֲכָמִ֧ים וּנְבֹנִ֛ים וִידֻעִ֖ים לְשִׁבְטֵיכֶ֑ם וַאֲשִׂימֵ֖ם בְּרָאשֵׁיכֶֽם׃

So does the Samaritan Torah. So our Masoretic text certainly is well established, and has company. If the text in Rashi's Torah happened to be chaser, then so be it, but that does not mean that we must start emending all our sifrei Torah. In the Sifrei, we have
ד׳׳א ואשימם בראשיכם אם שמרתם את (דבריכם) הרי ראשיכם שמורים • ואם לא (שמרתם את עצמכם) אין ראשיכם שמורים מלמד שאשמותיהם של ישראל תלויים בראשי דייניהם • וכה״א (יחזקאל ג) בן אדם צופה נתתיך לבית ישראל ושמעת מפי דבר והזהרת אותם ממני וגו׳ • (סיפ) :ש
where the derasha is made but with malei yud in the citation of the pasuk, and no mention of ketiv or krei.

However, Wolf Heidenheim (we will see inside later) traces this back not to Sifrei but to Devarim Rabba and yalkut shimoni in the pasuk in yechezkel. In midrash rabba, we have:
ואשימם בראשיכם
אר' יהושע בן לוי:
אמר להן משה: אם אי אתם נשמעים להם, אשמה תלוי בראשיכם.

למה הדבר דומה?
לנחש הזה שאמר הזנב לראש: עד מתי אתה מתהלך תחילה, אני אלך תחילה!
אמר לו: לך! הלך ומצא גומא של מים והשליכו לתוכה.
מצא אש והשליכו לתוכו.
מצא קוצים והשליכו לתוכן.

מי גרם לו?
על שהלך הראש אחר הזנב.
כך כשקטנים נשמעים לגדולים, הם גוזרים לפני המקום והוא עושה, ובשעה שהגדולים מהלכין אחר הקטנים, נופלים לאחר פניהם.

דבר אחר:
אמר רבי הושעיא:

למה הדבר דומה?
לכלה, שהיתה עומדת בתוך חופתה ונתפחמו ידיה.
אם מקנחת היא אותם בכותל, הכותל מתפחם וידיה אין מתנקות.
ואם בפסיפס, הפסיפס מתפחם וידיה אין מתנקות.
ואם מקנחת היא בשערה, שערה היא מתנאה וידיה מתנקות.
כך בשעה שישראל שומעין לגדוליהם ואין גדולים עושים צרכיהם, אשמה תלוי בראשם של גדולים, ואם לאו, תלוי בראשיהן של עצמם.
But Devarim Rabba is from ~900s or so. And it does not explicitly say that it is chaser yud, but does say that it is ketiv like that, which to me conveys the same thing. But see what Heidenheim has -- ואשימים כתיב, with the yud present, and see what he does with it. In Yalkut Shimoni on Yechezkel:
ואשב שם שבעת ימים (כתוב ברמז שכ"ט). בן אדם צופה נתתיך וגו' באמרי לרשע. הה"ד ואשימם בראשיכם אם שמרתם את התורה הרי ראשיכם שמורים ואם לאו אינם שמורים מלמד שאשמיהם של ישראל תלויין בראשי דייניהם

Wolf Heidenheim, in his supercommentary on Rashi, offers an interesting explanation. He says to know that this statement is based in Midrash Rabba and in Yalkut Shimoni on Yechezkel, and in both these places it does not have the language of chaser yud. Rather ואשימם כתיב. And this girsa is correct, because it is malei yud.

And he offers a grammatical analysis of what the purpose of the derasha is, that it is being read as ואאשימם, but then with the aleph dropping out because of the run of two in a row. It is still different from what we have in the pasuk because it is a shin rather than a sin.

Then, he notes an astonishing thing. Chizkuni notes that in his girsa it says that it is chaser aleph! But that this makes no sense, and so we should change it to chaser yud, even though our texts do not have a chaser yud! We will return to this Chizkuni in a moment, but the conclusion is that Chizkuni regards this as a shibush and emends the text to what we have. Heidenheim continues that he, to, found manuscripts which had in Rashi that it was chaser aleph. And that based on what he wrote, this is all well and good, that an aleph dropped out.

I don't like it so much. Even though he makes a compelling case. Because Rashi says:
ואשמם: חסר יו"ד, למד שאשמותיהם של ישראל תלויות בראשי דייניהם, שהיה להם למחות ולכוון אותם לדרך הישרה:
Following up that it is chaser with the word melamed informs me that he is trying to base the derasha on a feature present in the Biblical text, which teaches us this. But it would not be out of the ordinary for there not to be two alephs there. Indeed, only according to the derasha should there perhaps have been to alephs there initially, so its absence here cannot and should not teach us anything.

Let us turn to the aforementioned Chizkuni. He is gores chaser yud, that is חסר י"וד. And the scribes saw initially in Rashi's commentary just יו with a dot on the vav, in order to complete the word (yud). And they thought that it was an א, and from that day, they began to write chaser aleph.

I think I agree with Chizkuni's explanation of the scribal error, rather than with Heidenheim's support of it.

Finally, we can see Minchas Shai address this, to the right.

I am not going to summarize Minchat Shai, except to note that he gives us a lot to look up. We should really examine the Baal Haturim, for example.

Rather than discuss Minchas Shai, I will give my own tentative conclusions. I believe that Wolf Heidenheim is at least partially correct, in terms of the derashot. Since it says ketiv and not chaser in Midrash Rabba, and in Sifrei it cites the pasuk as malei before giving the derash, I would assert that the pasuk is just as we have it, malei yud, even in front of the author of the midrash. The business with the ketiv is only that the shin with no dot can be read either as a shin or a sin, so they are saying ketiv in order to darshen it as a shin, in order to connote guilt.

I am not convinced that Rashi has a Torah which was chaser either. Rather, Rashi the pashtan channels a whole lot of derash. And his previous two comments were based on Sifrei. And the Sifrei has connections to the Midrash Rabba in terms of derasha. And it is quite possible that in Midrash Rabba, and perhaps even in Rashi's version of the Sifrei, they wrote it chaser. Indeed, in our Midrash Rabba it says ואשמם כתיב. But maybe it should have said ואשימם כתיב as Heidenheim has it. This convinced Rashi that the word was written in front of the midrashic authors as chaser yud, and he took this as the basis for the derasha. Then, either without checking his own sefer Torah, or checking it and not caring for the difference, because his purpose here is to interpret the text al pi the Sifrei, he brought down and explained the basis for the derasha. That it does not match our Sifrei Torah (or perhaps even Rashi's) is beside the point. But Chizkuni, I think, is correct that it should real chaser yud rather than chaser aleph.

And we should certainly not consider changing our Biblical text on the basis of this derasha, even if we would consider doing it in other instances.


frumheretic said...

The difference here is that Rashi notes that a word is written chaser, and darshens it,

Well he also darshens pelagshim in Bereshit 25:6, which his girsa had as chaser as well.

Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

This kind of thing gets the skeptics and deniers all hot and excited. See, it's not the same Torah Moshe got! There's errors!

Are there any errors that change our understanding of the Oral Law? Or is it all limited to the occasional stray yud or an aleph subbing for a hey?

Because if it's the latter, then it is the same Torah.

frumheretic said...

Of course, even more problematic is Rashi on Shmot 25:22.

וְאֵת כָּל-אֲשֶׁר אֲצַוֶּה אוֹתְךָ

As Shnayer Leiman points out, this is not a chasair/yotair issue and if it were found in our Sifrei Torah, it would be considered pasul.

joshwaxman said...

true. those are also good ones. if you can remind me when the parsha comes around, maybe i can put together a nice post on each of these as well...


Anonymous said...

think you would like this.

joshwaxman said...

thanks. i'll try to check it out. but so far, nothing comes up. are there directions for accessing the particular shiur?


Joachim Martillo said...

I put a paretymological discussion of the issue on my blog.

joshwaxman said...

interesting idea. though i don't buy it. when there is a close parallel Hebrew word, why start going to a foreign language like Greek? not that derashot cannot also include this, but there is no reason to go there, and assert that this is the basis for the derasha, when the sources (such as Sifrei) do not state this.

i also don't agree with the motivation you propose when you say "Once a Hellenistic Torah scholar (a hakham, who is a sophos), trying to explain why asimam is used instead of the equivalent asim otam"
this should not bother any Torah scholar, including Hellenistic ones. nor is a defective spelling even *required*, as Wolf Heidenheim points out. all in all, i find your suggestion, while interesting, very speculative, and when one is that speculative, casting aspersions on others' interpretations seems to me quite ill-advised.

even so, it is an interesting idea to consider.

all the best,

Joachim Martillo said...

You might find it worthwhile to read Banitt's Rashi, Interpreter of the Biblical Letter.

Here is the blurb:

The author, delving into the lexical material of Rashi's Commentary on the Bible, situates it in both the line of the Jewish translations of the Bible since Hellenistic times and the cultural atmosphere of his own time.

The study reveals the close dependence of Rashi's Commentary on his mother tongue as on the French translation of the Bible obtaining in the Jewish communities in his days, the latter's Greek origin and the application by Rashi of the hermeneutic principles of old in view of improving it. These are based on paronomasia in its various modes, searching for the traces of the pristine Holy Tongue, in order to reach the true meaning of the Word of God, the etymon.

joshwaxman said...

thanks. i don't know if i'll find the time to read it, but i'll look around to see if it is available, and then perhaps thumb through it to see if I find it convincing.

a single book and theory does not encompass all there is to know about Rashi, though. when i took a course in Rashi studies, we were exposed to numerous books and theories about Rashi's parshanut. So I don't believe that everything is a nail.

at the end of the day, though, i see no compelling reason to assume *in this particular instance* a Greek pun which is more difficult (since it involves moving around letters) than a Hebrew pun, which involves ONLY switching a shin for a sin. (and no other revocalization.) There are plenty, plenty of examples of such derashot, purely in Hebrew. So even while yes, there are derashot involving other languages, there are also derashot not involving other languages. it comes down to analysis of midrash, rather than analysis of Rashi in this instance, imho.

The focus ends up being on Rashi, but Rashi is just the end of the process and perhaps the focus should be on the earlier sources, and not on Rashi. This would be the case even if the commentator were Ramban, or the Baal HaTurim. (I would recommend in turn as a great set Gelbardt's Lifshuto shel Rashi, which is very source-based, and examines how Rashi used and deviated from his sources.) And Rashi already had Devarim Rabba which had the reference to the Ketiv of the pasuk.

all the best,

Joachim Martillo said...

The sin-shin exchange is a visual pun.

It might be comparable to trying to create a Fractured Fairy Tale with the ending:

"He Who Laughs Last, Laughs Light."

I might be able to do it, but depending on the visual pun of gh sounding like f and gh with no sound probably would not work as well as:

"He Who Laughs Last, Laughs Left"

which uses an alliterative pun instead of a visual pun.

As for moving around letters, it is fairly common in Greek punning -- especially as palindromes.

Some such puns are probably mnemonic devices, which would be particularly important in a culture where texts are rare, and scholars are expected to memorize large passages.

joshwaxman said...

"The sin-shin exchange is a visual pun."

rather, the sin/shin exchange is BOTH a visual pun, and a phonetic pun. both are sibilants, and it is certainly audible as a pun to the listener.

and this is by no means this particular "pun" occurs. for example, in Judges 4:18, we have:
וַתֵּצֵא יָעֵל, לִקְרַאת סִיסְרָא, וַתֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו סוּרָה אֲדֹנִי סוּרָה אֵלַי, אַל-תִּירָא; וַיָּסַר אֵלֶיהָ הָאֹהֱלָה, וַתְּכַסֵּהוּ בַּשְּׂמִיכָה
And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said unto him: 'Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; fear not.' And he turned in unto her into the tent, and she covered him with a rug.

Semicha, with a sin, is a hapax legomenon. And in Vayikra Rabba, it is explained as Shemi Ka, that My (=God's Name), with a shin, is here, thus attesting that Sisera did not touch Yael.

In I Samuel 28:8, we have ח וַיִּתְחַפֵּשׂ שָׁאוּל, וַיִּלְבַּשׁ בְּגָדִים אֲחֵרִים, וַיֵּלֶךְ הוּא וּשְׁנֵי אֲנָשִׁים עִמּוֹ, וַיָּבֹאוּ אֶל-הָאִשָּׁה לָיְלָה; וַיֹּאמֶר, קסומי- (קָסֳמִי-) נָא לִי בָּאוֹב, וְהַעֲלִי לִי, אֵת אֲשֶׁר-אֹמַר אֵלָיִךְ.
8 And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and went, he and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night; and he said: 'Divine unto me, I pray thee, by a ghost, and bring me up whomsoever I shall name unto thee.'

the word vayitchapes is spelled with a Sin at the end. In midrash hagadol, they reinterpret it as if it had a shin, such that it means going free (chofshi); by going to the necromancer, he went free of his kingship.

In Hoshea 12:5, ה וַיָּשַׂר אֶל-מַלְאָךְ וַיֻּכָל, בָּכָה וַיִּתְחַנֶּן-לוֹ; בֵּית-אֵל, יִמְצָאֶנּוּ, וְשָׁם, יְדַבֵּר עִמָּנוּ.
5 So he strove with an angel, and prevailed; he wept, and made supplication unto him; at Beth-el he would find him, and there he would speak with us;

regarding Yaakov's fighting with the malach, a midrash rereads the first word as vayaShar, with a Shin, and relates it to the angel *singing*.

In terms of creation, Rabbi Yitzchak in a midrash darshens Shamayim with a Shin as Sa + Mayim, carrying water.

A pasuk states Aser Taaser, and Rabbi Yochanan interprets it as if it had a Shin rather than a Sin. aSer bishvil shetitaSher, tithe so that you should become wealthy.

This is an extremely *prevalent* type of derasha. I came up with this few examples in a few minutes, but this specific derasha is all over the place. This demonstrates two things. First, that it is not as "difficult" as you seem to be implying when stating "I might be able to do it, but..." And secondly, given that it is a common midrashic approach, using these particular letters, it makes me prefer it to one i would regard as more distance and difficult, based on Koine Greek. mind you, this is not because i think it impossible; i can point out examples of derashot to other languages, including Greek and Arabic. rather, one should not go, imho, to the more speculative and forced when the straightforward and common is right before us. when you hear hoofbeats, do you think horses or zebras?

all the best,


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