Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Should the yud in Pinchas be small? part two

See part one here.

The following is taken from Or Torah, from this printing. For some of the words, it is easier to see it in this other printing. He discusses the two disparities between the Zohar's description of the text, whether Pinchas is with a small yud or not, whether in general Pinchas is spelled melei or not, and tries to resolve the issues, or to explain why he holds like the Zohar.

Menachem said, they say in the Zohar that Pinchas here is with a small yud, and this is its language:
And because Pinchas was zealous for the covenant, that letter Yud was inserted into the spelling of his name. The Yud in the spelling of 'Pinchas' is a small one, which is definitely the covenant, which emanated from the upper holy Yud, etc.
Further, there:
In the verse "Pinchas, the son of Elazar, the son of Aaron the priest" (Bemidbar 25:11), with the addition of the small letter. because there are two sets of recorded alphabets, one alphabet of larger letters and one of small letters. The large letters belong to the next world while the small letters belong to this world, which is a sign of the holy covenant. Since Pinchas was zealous for this covenant, a small Yud was added to him, which is the secret of this covenant, etc.
And in parashat Acharei Mot {here, but with a different text, I think},
The small yud between the letters of Pinchas, which is a yud which encompasses two as one. And the yud of Pinchas is not placed in it to combine the letters except at the time that he was zealous for Hashem. {Thus, only malei then}, and arose from the congregation, and took the spear in his hand, etc., there was fixed the initial error. Then was placed the yud in his name to connect the letters as one. And because of this, the yud placed in his name was small, for behold, it is of the small letters, {?} for it corrected that which was initially in error, and completed with him {?} etc.

However, in all the sefarim and the masorot, there is no mention or hint whatsoever that this yud is small. And just the opposite, there is found in them {=the masorot} evidence that it it not small, for behold, most of them say in the verse {in Haazinu} "Tzur Yeladecha Teshi" that there is not like it with a small yud.

However, if I would write a sefer Torah, I would write this yud small, like the words of the zohar. And even though I fo not generally worry for derash when it conflicts with the reality of the present sefarim and the masorot, this is specifically in the matter of plene and deficient spelling, and this is because Razal {=Chazal} themselves informed us in Reya Mehemna {also a Zoharic work, attributed to Amoraim} in this {?} parsha on the verse "And it was on the day Moshe completed" that at times in derash, they say regarding plene that it is written deficient, and regarding the deficient that it is written plene. But in matters of the form of the letters, it is not so by me, for {specifically in the realm} where it is stated it is stated and where it is not stated, it is not stated, and one should not come to add to it. And indeed just the opposite, in the matter of the form of the letters, we only have the words of the midrashim.

There is further in this matter another confounding matter, that it is implied that only here is Pinchas plene; yet in all the sefarim and masorot there is found Pinchas throughout the Torah plene. Also the Rema za"l wrote
"and she bore for Him Pinchas" plene with a yud is written, and the entire Torah is like it plene."
End quote. And so is primary.

And there is to say that even the Zohar admits that Pinchas throughout the entire Torah is plene, but since before he was zealous, there was in him a {normal-sized} yud like all the other yuds, and then there was no hint at all to the holy name or to greatness, for there are many names with a yud in the marketplace, and also in Sisera there is a yud; and after he was zealous, the yud became small, which hints to the righteous one of the world, it is fitting to say "it was added to him," for certainly this is a hint that higher stated and holiness was added to him, and that he merited to that trait.

And the proof to me words is that in the first they said that it was changed {?} in his name here a small yud, and
they do not say it was added, we derive from this as we have expounded, not as a language of adding and addition, but they said it with a language of changing, such that it should be interpreted as I explain.

And so should one explain the matters in parshat Acharei Mot, after one asks what is meant that the yud comes to combine? Just the opposite! The letters were joined and they were separated via the yud. For initially, Pinchas was two syllables, for it was read with the nun swift {Pin + Chas}. And when the yud came, Pinechas was made a syllable and a peg {a syllable with a tacked on sheva na, thus Pi + Nechas}. And it is as if it were split into two word, Pi + Nechas, for with the yud, Pi becomes a long vowel, and one needs to extend {it} and to pause in it a little, and to make the nun move under it a little {with a sheva na}.

Behold, the intent of the matters is only as a secret, and to hint that now the yud is changed to a small one, which is similar to the Foundation of the world, Who is one in heaven and earth, and there is no connection except via Him.

And behold, in Pinchas, the small yud comes upon the nun, and if you contemplate on the Zohar on Bereishit...
And he continues along this path, explaining the Zohar, asking questions, contrasting the printed Zhoar with that in a ketav yad, and so on. This is enough of a translation for now.

It is interesting that he holds like the Zohar in the matter of the small yud, when writing a sefer Torah, even while all our sefarim and masorot are the opposite. I wonder what the situation is now. It is because in large part he assumes that the Zohar and Raya Mehemna are authentic, rather than 13th century forgeries. If so, the Zohar represents a very early attestation of the masoretic text from the time of Chazal, from the Tannaim. And even though Raya Mehemna, also early, seems to suggest that one need not follow it in terms of melei vs. chaser since the derash does not always conform with what it written, he won't overstep the bounds of what it written there.

I wonder what the state of matters is in our Sifrei Torah. I looked in my small printed sefer Torah, and it indeed has a small yud. But this is where reader participation can come in, if you like. See if you can spot what is written in the sefer Torah in your shul. Did the Zohar have influence in this, to change the masorah, at the least via the intermediary of the Or Torah?

What about those of us who believe the Zohar to be a late forgery, from the 13th century? Should it inform us in deciding the proper masoretic text. I would be inclined against it. Yet, it is an attestation of at least one 13th century text. But there are many masorot and texts against it. And indeed, I would add that the gemara in Kiddushin makes a big deal out of the vav ketiah in the immediate context (which indeed may have influenced the small yud much later), and so we should expect the gemara to make note of the yud, but it does not.

What about the differences in plene vs. deficient spelling? Again, the idea that one can safely ignore the plene and deficient spellings in derashot is an idea in Raya Mehemna, which is not from Chazal. The claim, perhaps to allow them to make all sorts of unfounded derashot on words malei and chaser which are really not that in our Masoretic text, should not be attributed to Chazal. So what if we have a word spelled differently in the gemara? Well, the spelling in the gemara and Mishna is not necessarily as controlled as it is by sofrim of Tanach. However, where Chazal make a derasha of it, I don't think it is as safe to dismiss away the derasha. Chazal never said that one may do so, only pseudo-Chazal said that one may do so.


yankel said...

A "peg" (yated) refers to a syllable with a sheva na (incl. chataf) tacked on to it, in contrast to a "tenuah" which is a vowel with no sheva na.

So "Pinchas" has two tenuot, whereas "Pi-nechas" has a tenuah and a yated.

Re the small yud, even the MS of Tenach from the Masoretic period had far fewer larger and smaller letters than is practice nowadays.

joshwaxman said...


Anonymous said...

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