Thursday, December 24, 2009

Is the trup on veEt Achecha dispositive? Ibn Caspi vs. Chizkuni

Summary: Ibn Caspi and Chizkuni each read a pasuk in Vayigash differently, Ibn Caspi with the division indicated by trup and Chizkuni against. Except that Chizkuni explains why the trup isn't really against him.

Post: As I mentioned several times in the past, Ibn Caspi likes to look at trup and nikkud to determine peshat. He is of the opinion that it was encoded by the Anshei Knesset Hagedolah, and that they received their tradition from Moshe Rabbenu. As such, it is dispositive -- you cannot argue against it. In his Vikuach al Chochmas HaKabbalah, meanwhile, Shadal asserts that a great many of the classic meforshim (Rashi, Ramban, Ibn Ezra, Rashbam, etc.), while paying great attention to the ancient commentary of trup and nikkud, do not regard it as Sinaitic and are willing to argue upon it.

There is a dispute between Ibn Caspi and Chizkuni as to how to parse a particular pasuk in parashat Vayigash. Ibn Caspi is in accord with the trup. Chizkuni does not appear to truly be.

That pasuk is Bereishit 47:6:

ו  אֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם, לְפָנֶיךָ הִוא--בְּמֵיטַב הָאָרֶץ, הוֹשֵׁב אֶת-אָבִיךָ וְאֶת-אַחֶיךָ:  יֵשְׁבוּ, בְּאֶרֶץ גֹּשֶׁן--וְאִם-יָדַעְתָּ וְיֶשׁ-בָּם אַנְשֵׁי-חַיִל, וְשַׂמְתָּם שָׂרֵי מִקְנֶה עַל-אֲשֶׁר-לִי.
6 the land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and thy brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell. And if thou knowest any able men among them, then make them rulers over my cattle.'

The trup on that pasuk is:

such that there is an etnachta on achecha, and so "your father and brothers" are grouped together.

And so Ibn Caspi writes:

מז (ו) ואת אחיך. שמו בו אתנח, להורות הגירות, וכן ישבו
בארץ גושן, הוא פרוש במיטב הארץ:

Thus, everyone is dwelling there, and eretz goshen is an explanation of meitav haaretz.

In constrast, Chizkuni says otherwise:

ו) במיטב הארץ הושב אח אביך • כי הוא זקן ואינו
מבקש רק מנוחה ואויר טוב אבל אחיך בחורים ישבו
בארץ גושן ארץ מקום מרעה ואל תשיבני מן האתנחתא
לומר שהיא מפסקת שהרי דוגמתו מצינו זבולון עם
חרף נפשו למות ונפתלי על מרומי שדה

That it, "your father" dwelt in meitav haaretz, which "your brothers" dwelt in the land of Goshen. He acknowledges the issue of the etnachta, which appears to say otherwise, but points to another instance in which the second phrase begins on the word upon which there is an etnachta. I discussed this in the beginning of 2009, in this post about a bunch of great Chizkunis on Vayigash. It might be possible to interpret that distant pasuk along with the trup, against how Chizkuni understands it. Or it could be that that pasuk, which is Biblical poetry, operated via different rules.

But what is Chizkuni saying? Is he stating that arguing against trup is legitimate? Or is he rather saying that the trup is not solidly against his interpretation, since in other cases it clearly is to be parsed in way X despite the etnachta in that position -- and so the trup can agree with him. I would say that he means the latter.

If so, neither Ibn Caspi nor Chizkuni are arguing against the trup. And indeed, by feeling the need to justify himself in light of the etnachta, Chizkuni seems to treat the trup as dispositive as well. Of course, so it seemed for other meforshim as well, until we encountered explicit instances to the contrary. I will try to keep on the lookout for more evidence on Chizkuni, in either direction.


Shmuel said...

You really need to get "Ishtadlus" by Yaakov Bachrach. He totally debunks Shadal on the age of trup.

Among other things he notes that parsing contrary to trop is an acceptable practice even if you hold they are misinai, and in fact is one of the literary rules of exgesis, known as "sidur Shenechlak."

joshwaxman said...

thanks; someone actually suggested that sefer to me last year (or so) as well. but i never got around to looking at it.

as such, it doesn't really make sense for me to start disputing it, if I were so inclined. and indeed, i think i pointed out a similar idea contrary to Shadal in terms of Rabbenu Bachya.

despite this, what does he mean by "sidur Shenechlak" as literary device? does he mean as derasha?

while certainly as derasha i agree it could work and therefore finding an explanation contrary to trup need not indicate belief that trup is not miSinai, I would think that the following counterargument can be made:

1) there are some meforshim who *explicitly* speak of the very wise author who authored the trup. that indicates that those, at least, do not maintain that it is miSinai.

2) there are certain meforshim who maintain that one *cannot* argue against trup, which represents authorial intent miSinai. there is no more than that. I am thinking of Ibn Caspi. but that *might* indicate that those who would argue, on a peshat level, disagree.

3) we see that some meforshim (e.g. Chizkuni) grapple with the trup and say "do not disprove me by the etnachta" because of reason X, for which it works out. that indicates that on a peshat level, they believe that it must work with the trup. and those who would dispute it would appear to believe the opposite.

4) in terms of "sidur shenechlak", is this a derasha? or is this OK even as peshat. if so, what we need to do is examine the commentator in question and see if he is maintaining it as peshat or as derash. ramban himself says this, regarding Timna, שהאגדה נדרשת, אמרו סדור היה ראוי להיות אלא שנחלק, but he says this regarding those who pursue peshat as well, וגם רודפי הפשט יאמרו כן בפסוקים אחרים. someone saying that *peshat* is X, and rejecting the parse given by the trup, *might* well indicate that they regard the trup as not miSinai. e.g. by Arami oved avi. (unless of course they hold in those instances that the trup is coming to give the midrash. i am not certain that in all cases they would say this.)

at the end of the day, indeed, i should read that sefer. i would guess that many of my own disproofs or arguments can be found in there. i am not sure that i would personally find it to be a total debunking -- it might be an additional step in an ongoing Vikuach which Shadal (or i) could readily respond ... but then, i have not read the sefer. i'll try to put it on my to-do list.

thanks, and kol tuv,

Anonymous said...

You mentioned that there are sources for why Chava succumbed to the serpents temptation. Can you please elaborate on that?

joshwaxman said...

i don't recall where i said that, and context is key. i think the midrash speaks about it, giving as one parallel pandora's box. abarbanel speaks about it, as does shadal. and still offhand, there is this post, about whether Chava spoke parseltongue:



Blog Widget by LinkWithin